Masculinity and Class in the Context of Dirty Work

Natasha Slutskaya, Ruth Simpson, Jason Hughes, Alexander Simpson, Selcuk Uygur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through an ethnographic study of ‘dirty work' (refuse collection and street cleaning), this articleexplores how masculinity and class intersect - how, in a mutually constitutive sense, theyproduce attitudes and practices, strengths and vulnerabilities, which are shaped by shiftingrelations of privilege and power. We find resistance to class subordination through adherence totraditional forms of masculinity and through esteem-enhancing social comparison (e.g., withwomen; with migrant workers). Men also mobilized powerful nostalgic themes around the lossof traditional jobs as well as trade union power. We argue that displays of masculine resiliencein the face of devaluation are less indicative of a culture of masculine dominance but more anexpression of vulnerability and social dislocation, serving both as a source of resistance whilstsimultaneously reinforcing anchors of social disadvantage that characterize forms of dirty work.We suggest that combining social comparison with intersectionality can potentially highlighthow categories of difference are strategically deployed in response to varied and unequallyvalued social positionalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalGender Work and Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Slutskaya, N., Simpson, R., Hughes, J., Simpson, A., and Uygur, S. (2016) Masculinity and Class in the Context of Dirty Work. Gender, Work and Organization, 23: 165–182, which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/gwao.12119. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


  • masculinity
  • class
  • dirty work
  • gender practice


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