Sexuality, Masculinity, and Taint Management Among Firefighters and Correctional Officers: Getting Down and Dirty With “America's Heroes” and the “Scum of Law Enforcement”

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

151 Scopus citations

Abstract

Based on qualitative field and interview data, this comparative analysis of dirty work by firefighters and correctional officers demonstrates that taint management and its relative utility is inextricably bound to and embedded within macro-level discourses. While firefighters labor to fulfill expectations as “America's heroes,” correctional officers work to squelch images as “professional babysitters” and the “scum of law enforcement.” The authors’ analysis illustrates how discourses of occupational prestige and masculine heterosexuality allow firefighters to frame their work in preferred, privileged terms while correctional officers struggle to combat taint discursively associated with low-level feminized care work or with brutish, deviant sexuality. This study extends theoretical understandings of identity construction, dirty work, taint management, and organizational performances of masculinity and sexuality. The authors’ analysis concludes with limitations, future directions, and practical applications regarding the potentially dysfunctional results of taint management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-38
Number of pages33
JournalManagement Communication Quarterly
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2006

Keywords

  • dirty jobs
  • dirty work
  • gender
  • identity
  • masculinity
  • sexuality
  • taint management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Strategy and Management

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