"Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis": Negotiating multiple organisational musculinities<br />Maree V Boyle. Women in Manag...
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis
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Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis

  1. 1. "Sailing twixt scylla and charybdis": Negotiating multiple organisational musculinities<br />Maree V Boyle. Women in Management Review. Bradford: 2002. Vol. 17, Iss. 3/4; pg. 131, 11 pgs<br />Abstract (Summary)<br />This qualitative study explores the intersection between organizational masculinity and emotionality within a pre-hospital emergency services organization. The existence of multiple masculinities within a male-dominated and emotion-laden organization indicates that men who work within this context are required to negotiate multiple forms of masculinities within heavily emotionalized organizational regions or spaces. It was found that there were competing tensions between at least 2 forms of masculinity within the organization in question. While militarized and managerial/technical forms of masculinity dominate as the principal hegemonic form, a heroic and caring masculinity is also essential to how the organization in question produces its key services. It is argued that forms of masculinity that are closer to the hegemonic ideal type are not "compensatory," but have to co-exist with other, albeit more marginalized, masculinities.<br /> »  Jump to indexing (document details)<br />Full Text (7016  words)<br />Copyright MCB UP Limited (MCB) 2002<br />[Headnote]Keywords <br />[Headnote]Organization, Men, Environment, Emergency services, Work, Environment <br />[Headnote]Abstract <br />[Headnote]This qualitative study explores the intersection between organizational masculinity and emotionality within a prehospital emergency services organization. The existence of multiple masculinities within a male-dominated and emotion-laden organization indicates that men who work within this context are required to negotiate multiple forms of masculinities within heavily emotionalised organizational regions or spaces. This study found that there were competing tensions between at least two forms of masculinity within the organisation in question. While militarized and managerial/technical forms of masculinity dominate as the principal hegemonic form, a heroic and caring masculinity is also essential to how the organization in question produces its key services. It is argued that forms of masculinity that are closer to the hegemonic ideal type are not "compensatory", but have to co-exist with other, albeit more marginalized, masculinities. <br />[Headnote]Electronic access <br />[Headnote]The research register for this journal is available at http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/researchregisters The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at http://www.emeraldinsight.com.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/0964-9425.htm <br />Introduction <br />The study of the gendered and emotionalised nature of organisations has traditionally focused on women. This growing body of literature indicates that women are responsible for the bulk of emotional and caring labour (Hochschild, 1983). Studies that have focused specifically on men and emotion within organisations are hard to find. In order to understand fully how the intersection of gender and emotionality impact upon organisations, there is a need to focus on understanding how men experience emotionality within organisations, and how their experience constructs the norm for organisational emotionality. A useful place to commence such a study is within an organisation where men perform considerable amounts of emotional labour. <br />This paper therefore examines the emotional ambiguity inherent when men perform public caring work within a traditionally hegemonically masculine context. The works of Connell (1995, 2000) and Goffman (1959) provide a framework for illustrating how multiple masculinities and organisational emotionalities intersect within an organisational setting. In this instance, the setting chosen is emotion-laden, and this also compounds the process of switching between masculinities. This paper is based upon a study of emotionality and masculinity within an Australian public sector organisation, the Department of Paramedical Services (DPS) which provides pre-hospital emergency care and transportation. The organisation in question is over 100 years old, male dominated and has both military and not-for-profit origins. <br />With regards to the organisation under discussion here, the question that needs to be answered is how male workers who engage in the "feminine" skill of emotional labour reconcile these tasks with the demands of a hegemonically masculine gender regime. In other words, how does an organisation juggle the tension-ridden co-existence of caring and masculinity? Observational and interview data indicated that there were competing tensions between at least two forms of masculinity within the DPS. As like many other organisations, militarized and managerial/technical forms of masculinity dominate as the principal hegemonic form. However, a heroic and caring form of masculinity is also essential to how the organisation in question produces its key services. While this form is clearly more subordinated than the latter forms, there is a constant struggle over what which form gains ascendancy. It is argued that forms of masculinity that are closer to the hegemonic ideal type are not "compensatory", but have to co-exist with other, albeit more marginalized, masculinities. <br />Organisational masculinity <br />The literature on masculinity within organisations has moved from a primary focus on dichotomous inter-gender relationships to a recognition of the existence of multiple masculinities and the relation of various forms of masculinity to power, culture and subjectivity (Collinson and Hearn, 1996; Kerfoot and Knights, 1998). Within organisations, it has been suggested that managerialism is replacing militarism as the principal hegemonic form (Hopton, 1999). While most recent studies have focused on hegemonic masculinity as the central phenomena in terms of gendered organisational culture, few have fully explored the complex and contradictory relationship between hegemonic masculinity and the existence of multiple masculinities. Connell's (1995) work has been especially instructive here, providing a framework for analyzing multiple masculinities. Recent literature on how men "do" masculinity in feminized organisational contexts indicates that men engage in compensatory gendered practices so as to "restore" a dominating position (Alvesson, 1998; Nixon, 1998). <br />This study therefore draws on the works of Connell (1995) to explore how intra-gender relations between men within an emotionladen organisation can be driven by a very virulent form of hegemonic emotionality that in turn supports and drives the dominant hegemonically masculine practices within the same organisation. Attention paid to organisational masculinity within organisational theory is a relative new endeavour (Kilduff, 2001). Earlier studies of men and work in the context of the study of masculinity in the workplace indicates that the terms "work" or "working" and "men" are nearly always linked (Morgan, 1992). This verifies Acker's (1990) claim that the disembodied worker so prevalent in organisational theory is assumed to be male. This cultural construction of "organisational man" consists of an image of the typical organisational member as affectively neutral, without work-family conflict and favouring a hegemonically masculine demeanour. However, this is a reading of organisational man that recognises the implicitness of masculinity as a basic feature of the organisational ideal type. The masculinity of work and organisation is rarely made explicit (Cockburn, 1983). To counteract this there has been a move to name male workers as "men" (Cockburn, 1983; Kimmel and Messner, 1989; Connell, 1987; Brittan, 1989; Hearn and Morgan, 1990; Collinson and Hearn, 1996). <br />However, as Morgan (1992) assiduously points out, bringing men back in to organisational theory is not without its difficulties. Paid work has been described as the centre of men's lives and, as such, is also the basis of dominant forms of masculinity and masculine identity (Ford, 1985; Ingham, 1984). But masculinity is also the sum of what it rejects. According to Connell (1995), masculinity is defined in relation to femininity. Therefore masculinity is not only what constitutes being a man (for example, strength, emotional control and an ability to control the immediate environment) but also everything that femininity is not. For instance, the linkage between masculinity and paid work is in direct contrast to that of femininity and unpaid work. Paid work involves control over tasks, people and ideas, where one constructs the world through rational action. On the other hand, unpaid work is associated with maintaining relationships between people within the private sphere. The construal of paid work as real work that occurs solely within the public sphere contrasts significantly with unpaid work, which is construed as maintenance work that occurs within the private sphere. The former is clearly visible within the public sphere; the latter is viewed as invisible and intangible. These dichotomies are closely tied to gendered ideological constructs of appropriate masculine and feminine practice. What these dichotomies do not indicate is that masculinity is contingent upon the symbolic annihilation of femininity, homosexuality and disembodied forms of masculinity. <br />However, the workplace is only one site where dominant masculinities are created. It is therefore erroneous to assume that changes at the level of work will create a destabilising influence within current gender orders that privilege the role of men as controllers of emotion. If anything, the change is occurring in the other direction. Women are increasingly expected to simultaneously behave like their male colleagues while bringing "special" qualities into the workplace that are supposed to "soften" the corporate world (Sinclair, 1998). Therefore, Morgan's warning about the contradictory nature of the relationship between masculinity and work is heeded. To understand this contradictory relationship, a framework is needed to assist in the exploration of the conceptualisation and practice of masculinity. <br />Connell's theory of masculinities <br />Connell's theory of gender as structuring social practice assists in developing a working definition of masculinity that accounts for both its complex and contradictory nature. Essentialist definitions that attempt to account for what is the "core" of masculinity are often at odds with each other, because there is no agreement about what the core is. Similarly, normative definitions recognise differences and offer a standard of what men ought to be. Semiotic definitions highlight symbolic differences through the study of masculinity in contrast to what it is not -femininity (Connell, 2000). Connell (1995) argues that any definition of masculinity needs to incorporate a relational focus on processes and practices through and in which both men and women are a part. <br />Connell recognises the existence of multiple masculinities, which can either be hegemonic or subordinated. The essence of Connell's (1995, p. 77) definition of hegemonic masculinity is the: <br />Configuration of gender practice ... which guarantees the dominant position of men and the subordination of women. <br />Connell acknowledges at least two forms of non-hegemonic masculinity - subordination and marginalisation, which indicates that between men there are gender relations of subordination and dominance. Gay masculinities can be found at the bottom of this hierarchy, what Connell (1995, p. 78) refers to as: <br />The repository of what is symbolically expelled from hegemonic masculinity. <br />However, it would be simplifying the process of subordination to the extreme to suggest that the gay/straight dichotomy is the only manifestation of intra-gender relations among men. Other heterosexual men are also excluded from the "circle of legitimacy", and this manifested through what Connell (1995, p. 79) refers to as the "vocabulary of abuse". This raises the question of just what and who represents the embodiment of hegemonic masculinity. Connell argues that while most men do not actually practice hegemonic masculinity in its purest form, most men benefit from the ideology of masculinism that privileges men over women in a general sense. <br />Therefore, Connell asserts that most men do enter into a "relationship of complicity" in that men can benefit from particular forms of masculinity that are constructed within the ideological realm of patriarchy. This process of complicity occurs most blatantly through the marginalisation of certain groups of men. As Connell (1995, p. 80): <br />Marginalisation is always relative to the authorisation of hegemonic masculinity of the dominant groups. <br />The emotion-laden organisation <br />The process of organising is an emotional process and organisations are ostensibly emotional arenas (Fineman, 1993, 2000; Albrow, 1992). The emotionalising of organisations is a complex process that involves the participation of all individuals, groups and external influences within a particular organisational context (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995). While all organisations can be considered emotional entities, not all organisations are totally emotion laden. Whether or not an organisation is emotion laden depends on a number of factors, but for the purposes of this paper the most important indicators are organisational output and how much emotion is explicitly intertwined in this. Is there a deliberate fostering of emotionality through particular modes of service delivery, production or marketing? To what degree does the embodiment of emotion occur through the organisational person? <br />The life-cycle stage of an organisation will also be a clear indicator as to whether or not an organisation is emotion laden. For example, a major restructuring or downturn or uplift in the fortunes of the company will evoke strong emotional reactions which, in turn, will increase the degree to which that organisation is emotion laden (Huy, 1999). In the case of the DPS, male officers perform emotional labour as a crucial part of their work, and this performance is integral to delivery of services to patients. As well, the DPS has experienced large amounts of organisational upheaval, which has caused ambivalent and confused work feelings among officers. At the time, the level of turbulence within the organisation was extremely high, and this has impacted upon how officers view their work and the organisation in which they work. The DPS is also unique in that the kinds of organisational emotionality experienced by officers is spatialised and regionalised in that there are specific feeling rules that govern the expressed and felt emotion of officers. The best way of illustrating how emotionality is regionalised within the DPS is to apply a dramaturgical perspective. <br />Emotional regions and the dramaturgical perspective <br />The concepts of frontstage and backstage emotional cultures are derived from Goffman's (1959) dramaturgical perspective. Goffman's concepts of front and back regions are used here heuristically to further Fineman's (1993) notion of the "emotional architecture" of organisational culture, in which he suggests that organisations have physical spaces in which different kinds of feeling rules apply. The concept of emotional culture builds upon Gordon's (1984) original conceptualisation, joining both Goffman's description of regional behaviour and audience segregation and the differentiation perspective of organisational culture which recognises the importance of sub-cultures. In addition, Hosking and Fineman's (1990) differentiation between frontstage and backstage organisational emotionality helps to illustrate how a full understanding of the nature and consequence of emotional labour can only occur if it is considered within the context of emotional culture. Therefore, emotional culture can be observed within three "regions" - front or onstage, backstage and offstage. The frontstage sector is where emotional labour is performed. The backstage sector is where interaction with organisational members occurs and where emotional process work is likely to occur. Offstage spheres are found outside the realm of the organisation itself, such as family or household. <br />There are three main gendered sub-cultures and regions within the DPS. The frontstage region is the bulk of the interaction with patients occurs, and is also where most of the emotional labour is performed. The backstage region is characterised by the absence of the public. These spaces are inhabited by co-workers, supervisors and non-frontline staff within the organisation. The offstage region is found outside of the organisation, mainly within the home and family. <br />Observational data indicated that a significant amount of emotional "switching" occurs between frontstage and backstage regions. Officers are expected to switch quickly from a caring, compassionate persona in the frontstage region to a more wisecracking, cynical and nonchalant stance in backstage regions. Observations indicated that there is considerable pressure in backstage regions for officers to adopt a tougher, less compassionate stance towards patients and other officers. <br />Research context: the Department of Paramedical Services <br />The site chosen for this study is a public sector provider of pre-hospital emergency care, the DPS. A qualitative ethnographic style study was conducted over a period of two years. Data collection included 110 on road observations, qualitative interviews with 30 officers, more than 500 hours of organisational observation and analysis of organisational documentation. The author spent 18 months as an "observer as participant" within the organisation, but did not become fully immersed within the setting. She remained a "civilian" because she did not wear an ambulance uniform, and therefore was able to observe free of the constraints full membership would have brought. <br />The DPS is a male-dominated organisation with 90 per cent of the shopfloor level workforce being men. At some stage during their working day, these men publicly perform emotional labour. As part of their duties as ambulance officers, DPS staff are expected to perform as emotionally complex individuals while simultaneously adhering to a rigid hegemonically masculine code of conduct. On the one hand, officers are expected to display the softer emotions of compassion, empathy and cheerfulness in public regions while on the other hand, refraining from public expressions of grief, remorse or sadness. <br />At first glance this would seem quite a contrast to the status quo, where men are less likely to perform emotional or caring work in either a public or private context, let alone within a male-dominated environment. However, this study indicates that the DPS expends a considerable amount of energy denying the existence of "feminine" forms of emotionality while at the same time being highly dependent upon the expression of the same for its very existence. <br />Officers themselves describe the emotional culture of the DPS as "macho", and are aware, at least on a superficial level, of the role that masculinity and masculinism plays in defining the culture. Although Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) has been introduced and is used by officers, a request for a defusing or debriefing is still viewed as a sign of emotional weakness: <br />There is a macho thing amongst the men and the women, and if you said to an ambulance officer, I want you to go inside to be debriefed, he would punch you. <br />Prior to the introduction of CISD, officers were subject to operational debriefings after particular cases. One officer explained that counsellors often paid little attention to the reality of shopfloor masculinity, and the ensuing tendency of officers to refuse to acknowledge between themselves that a case may have deleterious emotional effects: <br />They talk about how the patient presented and this is what the outcome was. I ask, how did you feel about all of this? Oh, we're talking about feeling here. This is not good. They become very uncomfortable. <br />This quote validates my experience as an observer in similar situations at stations after traumatic cases. Officers appeared extremely reluctant to express any negative or "unmanly" emotion. In many instances, officers engaged in long bouts of "black" humour. This is not to say that humour is not useful as an emotional process technique. However, humour appeared to be used as a way of denying emotional reactions to cases. Officers who engage in these rituals of black humour are not necessarily callous or unfeeling. The tendency to deny or suppress feeling during work hours is something that is learnt very early in an officers' career. The message both men and women within the DPS receive from senior officers can be very stark - "take it or leave it". This feeling rule is passed on from senior to junior officers at the scene of traumatic cases. Younger officers who are visibly upset or approach senior officers about how they feel are given a number of signals about "not feeling". Messages such as "take it or leave it", "don't be a wimp or sook", or "if you can't stand the heat", all indicate that it is not only inappropriate to acknowledge feelings about certain cases, it is dangerous even to feel at all. <br />When dealing with patients, officers are allowed to step out of the traditionally hegemonic frame within the confines of performing emotional labour. When officers experience emotional dissonance or exhaustion as a result of the emotional component of the service provider-patient relationship, the DPS had an expectation that an individual officer will receive the bulk of his emotional support from within a traditionally heterosexual relationship from the spouse. In addition to this, the DPS has an expectation that officers can easily slip in and out of the hegemonic masculinity characteristic of backstage masculinity. <br />Multiple masculinities within the DPS <br />Within the DPS, at least five broad types of masculine subjectivities and practices have been identified: <br />(1) militarized; <br />(2) managerial; <br />(3) techno; <br />(4) hero/community; and <br />(5) nurturing/caring. <br />In keeping with the theme of this paper, I will group these categories of masculinities into two groups - the first group of categories exemplifies and mirrors a close fit between masculine practice and ideal hegemonic type. Militarized and managerial masculinities are not unique to the DPS. However, a newer, generational-based form called techno masculinity has emerged with the advent of increased technical specialization and a push towards professionalisation. In contrast, officers also cite the importance and centrality of a caring, community hero-oriented type of masculinity within the DPS. Both of these broad groups are deeply embedded in the wider DPS culture. In terms of shopfloor practice, there appears a constant tension between what is appropriate masculine practice and what the edicts of the emotional culture as described above dictate. <br />Militarized masculinities <br />The modern ambulance service evolved out of religious and military institutions and practices, both influences that are evident in many ambulance services today (Barkley, 1978; Haller, 1992). The DPS is not unusual in this regard as a strong military influence can be traced from its beginnings. The militaristic dimensions of the DPS include a centralised command structure with a rigid chain of command: <br />* clearly delineated lines of communication and authority; <br />* emphasis on maintenance of the status quo; <br />* a highly centralised system of operations; <br />* promotional opportunities which are only usually available to members of the organisation; and <br />* lack of flexibility when confronted with situations not covered by existing drectives, orders or policies and procedures (Auten, 1981). <br />In addition to this, there is close alliance between militaristic influences upon emotional culture and the privileging of masculinist forms of emotional expression and coping strategies. This alliance forms the cultural foundation upon which organisational emotionality within the DPS is based. Indeed, it could be argued that the militarized nature of the emotional culture is the key to explaining why attempts at extensive emotional cultural change have failed. These findings are similar to those of Barrett (1996) and Mills (1998). <br />When problems on the road arise, officers explained that the militaristic chain of command leaves lower ranking officers with very little room for explanation when called up before management for disciplinary action. Officers complained that because management tend to assume guilt prior to talking to the officer, the "offending" officer is alienated and left to fend for him or herself. When problems do arise on the road, officers tend not to talk freely with their peers about the problem and what could be done to avoid it in the future. Because officers fear being disciplined, they are less likely to publicly support officers who are perceived to be unfairly castigated. <br />The most obvious manifestation of militaristic masculinity is the number of ex-military officers that occupy key positions within the DPS. These range from station officer positions right through to senior management positions. Officers interviewed were of the belief that the proliferation of officers with military service, especially those who had done a "tour of duty" in recent wars, had a significant impact upon the development of the organisation as a whole. More specifically, there is also a belief that applicants with military backgrounds were chosen in favour of civilians because they were considered more emotionally hardened and, therefore, more suitable for ambulance trauma work where an officer was required to compartmentalise emotional states: <br />I've had a fair bit of experience with the army, in a combat zone where you learn to look after yourself. You can turn the adrenaline on and off. If you stay "up" all the time you become a basket case. Turning yourself on and off... it becomes automatic. <br />Many officers interviewed with civilian backgrounds expressed a feeling of disquiet about the significant amount of influence militarism had within the organisation. At least one officer believed that senior managers with a military background were unable to totally dissociate themselves from their military past. As the following quote indicates, he believed that this created a cultural barrier between the heavily militarized higher management and the civilian-oriented officers of middle and lower ranks: <br />The assistant commissioner was in the army, so he comes from a background of killing people. We come from a background of coming behind people like him. But he says he knows how this culture works. He doesn't. His culture and our culture are worlds apart ... <br />This quote also illustrates the inherent tension caused by the mix of militarized masculinities with the more subordinated caring form. It also refers to the existence of multiple emotional cultures within the DPS. Because the militarized form is hegemonically in the ascendency, many officers attempt to develop new militarized symbols. For example, the hegemonic ideal type of Rambo as ex-military man gone wild is seen as an influence within the DPS, where much of the high adrenaline, high pressure, emergency work occurs on the street. Hence, for some officers, the officer as community hero is not masculine enough, and a more aggressive, street-fighter kind of image needs to be developed. <br />In order to raise their community profile, ambulance officers need to contend with the sheer aggression, authoritarianism and para-military practices of the police, especially on the street where police are assumed to be in control. More recently, they also need to counteract the charge that they are not as "manly" as firefighters, particularly in a corporeal and sexualised sense. For instance, firefighters who work with the DPS engage in charity fundraising activities such as selling "beefcake" calendars. In comparison to other emergency service workers, ambulance officers may be viewed as more asexual and gender neutral than police officers or fire and rescue workers. In contrast to the sexualised image of the firefighters, DPS officers carry teddy bears dressed as ambulance officers with them to settle small children who are in pain or distress. Apart from developing militarized images that successfully compete with other street rescue occupations, the DPS has also encouraged the development of two other forms of masculinity - managerial and techno. <br />Managerial and techno masculinities <br />The rise of managerial masculinity occurred during the 1990s, when the DPS engaged in extensive organisational restructuring. The major change that occurred involved the move from a community-based governance structure to a government-controlled bureaucratic one. This meant that a whole layer of managers was employed to manage the new bureaucratic structure. In addition, the power of senior managers grew significantly, with several managers in urban areas in charge of hundreds of shopfloor staff. Predictably, this change was met with confusion and hostility from many long-serving officers because they believed non-ambulance staff were making decisions that directly impacted upon emergency treatment. Officers expressed opinions about the non-caring nature of mostly male bureaucrats, and their inability to understand the emotional demands of the job: <br />I think that some of the higher bureaucrats have absolutely no concept of what it is like to be hurt or need an ambulance. As far as they are concerned it is all dollars and cents and numbers. And that's sad. I think we should go back to the idea where all the hierarchy should spend time at the coal-face and find out what it is really like. <br />However, the most virulent form of masculinity that has arisen in recent years within the DPS is based on a technological focus to the exclusion of the development of emotional skills. This new form appears to be generationally based. Officers who have entered the service during the past five years are more likely to have gained higher qualifications than those officers who have been in the service longer. It is interesting to note that young women who have entered the service recently are not placed in this category by older male officers. Older officers often referred to younger, technically-oriented officers as "techno kids". Older officers were often quick to dissociate themselves from what they saw as "showing off" or intellectual "wizardry". Older officers who are critical of "techno kids", particularly those who were trained during the pre-DPS era, argue that recruits are now not chosen for their ability to "care" but rather their academic skills. These officers are adamant that the "caring" component should be the crucial factor in choosing new recruits. <br />However, there is a need to look beyond a simple reading of the techno form of masculinity as being separate because of the young man-older man dichotomy. The intersection between all forms of masculinity are well illustrated in the following example. One younger officer referred to non-emergency work as "granny-busting". Others referred to these cases as "bumpers" or "geries". Officers who found non-emergency work tedious were more likely to objectify their patients in this way. However, even with emergency cases involving older women, younger male officers were observed to be emotionally ambivalent. Older officers view this redefinition of ambulance work, and the students' eagerness to embrace technical competency above all else as a cultural change that excludes and demotes the "caring" and "empathetic" skills that once distinguished an ambulance officer from a mere "taxi driver". <br />This image of the new breed of ambulance officer as technically brilliant but emotionally challenged begs the question of how this frontstage cultural change may affect the backstage culture. Given that the backstage culture is still one that is not described by officers themselves as emotionally supportive, it is worth considering the possibility that the "new" frontstage culture may actually reinforce the worst aspects of the backstage culture. There is some evidence here to suggest that this might be the case. <br />Heroic/communitarian masculinities <br />During observations, I gained first hand insight into how ambulance officers are viewed within their communities, and what these communities expect of the role of the ambulance officer. Based on my observations of how people reacted when the officers arrived at the scene of an accident or at the home of a patient, the biggest expectation was that the officers would "solve" their problems and act as "heroic" in face of disaster or personal tragedy. I often observed the relief on people's faces and the general easing of tension when the officers stepped onto the premises. Many people displayed a level of deference in front of the officers that is usually only seen in the presence of the "true" professionals such as a doctor's and lawyer's job. In a rural context, this expectation is further exacerbated by the fact that rural officers are more likely to be "on call" after hours. When officers are out on the road providing services to patients, they do possess a status shield, which may offer them some emotional protection. The uniform and the air of authority and command, technical expertise and the ability to "save" lives, permission to enter any establishment or personal space, and the permission to touch, all combine to give DPS officers some form of status and authority in the eyes of the public. While DPS officers may not possess the same degree of shielding as medical practitioners or lawyers, officers are still in a more <br />authoritative position than most interactive service workers. The "masculine" nature of ambulance work also serves to provide an emotional shield in that officers are free to be masterful, competent and directive towards patients, relatives or bystanders who do not follow instructions. <br />In contrast to the flight attendants in Hochschild's (1983) study, there are situations where ambulance officers can command compliance and co-operation. However, the autonomy that officers experience on the road can dissipate once they complete their case and come once again under the "command" of communications and management. Therefore, this status shield tends to diminish when officers have to switch to backstage militarized masculinities. <br />Caring masculinities <br />Most officers referred to the importance of recognising the physical and emotional vulnerability of patients, and the need to address this in appropriate ways. Officers describe their occupation as a "caring" one, and many cite this as a component that keeps them in the job. How they define "care" nearly always involves the ability to empathise with the patient as well as providing "patient care". Patient care incorporates both emotional and physical labour, which is similar to James' (1992) definition of care. The differences between the rational and technical focus of care in the public sphere and the relational focus of care within the private sphere are clearly gendered. As James explains, while the role of male carers within the private sphere has been recognised (Ungerson, 1987a, b), the ideology and practice of caring as symbolic of femininity remains entrenched. For example, this officer indicates that although he "cares", he is still a man, and does this in a uniquely masculine way: <br />To me, it comes from my heart ... Provide service with feeling ... as a male I just get this feeling that you feel strong about things, and once you know that is happening, I don't think you cannot be genuine ... <br />The emotional component of care is especially subject to a gendered division of labour. "Caring about" is considered an essential component of "women's work" within both the public and private domains. Because this aspect of care involves the practice of emotional labour, this distinguishes it from "caring for", which involves the physical and organisational aspects of caring work. While on-road officers may acknowledge that the difference between caring about and caring for is an important one, the reality is that the heavy emphasis placed upon technical and physical aspects of ambulance work in training programs means that officers are trained primarily to "care for <br />For example, in cases that involve children, male officers are permitted to display a whole range of emotions in public that they would not otherwise be comfortable doing. The following quote indicates that, in the context of caring for children, officers are freer to display full range of emotional labour skills: <br />With jobs involving children, you feel more protective towards them. If they're sick they've got a life ahead of them and they haven't had a chance. <br />Within the DPS, the term "care" is particularly ambivalent. The invisibility of the emotional component of care work contributes significantly to the non-recognition of emotional labour as a legitimate skill. This does not mean that care work is unrecognised. At the shopfloor level, officers are quick to point out that care work is a skilled part of their work. DPS managers and trainers, however, are comfortable with the notion that care work is mainly physical. This is because this component of care requires the mastery of skills that are easily measured. Because emotional labour, which is a part of emotional care work, is not easily quantified, it is therefore dismissed as an essential part of ambulance training curricula. While it is possible to rectify this omission by changing the curricula, it is much more difficult to problematise the prevailing gendered ideologies of care. In the case of the DPS, there exists a considerable amount of ambiguity as to whether an explicit acknowledgement of male ambulance officers as total carers is warranted. That is, the service is comprised of men who not only care for, but also care about. <br />Within the ranks of on-road officers, men in the service equate the term caring with emotion. Because of this association, male ambulance officers are in a unique ideological, gendered and cultural position. Caring is generally associated with femininity, privacy and intimacy. Men who enter female-dominated caring professions are more likely to move up the ranks and locate themselves in technical and managerial positions (Williams, 1995), thus reinforcing the notion that the "caring about" work is really a woman's domain. <br />Therefore, men in the DPS find themselves in an ambiguous position. Through being in the rare position of doing caring work in a male-dominated occupation, they are located outside the traditional ideological and economic framework of caring. The public promotion of the DPS as a "caring" organisation illustrates this clearly, where men are portrayed "caring" for the sick and injured. However, most official images of ambulance officers very rarely display officers in nurturing or "feminine" poses with other men, older women, or children. Even though less than ten per cent of the DPS workforce are women, they figure frequently in "caring" advertisements and official images of ambulance officers. <br />Conclusion <br />Collinson's (1992) work on masculinity and subjectivity in the workplace recognises the centrality of work as a cultural marker of masculinity, as well as an important site for the exploration of the interconnections between masculinity, subjectivity and class. However, Collinson is critical of the "compensation" theory of work (Cockburn, 1983). This theory suggests that particular kinds of masculinities, such as "macho" identities, develop as a way of compensating for the "indignities of commodified and controlled manual labour" (Collinson, 1992, p. 36). If this theory is correct, then compensatory masculinities would develop in other sites where men are similarly subjected to conditions not of their own choosing. It is suggested that while individual male workers may lead very rich and fulfilling emotional lives, they do this in the face of increasing pressure from within both public and private spheres to act as traditionally hegemonically masculine "men". This expectation is the basis upon which organisational emotionality is constructed. The ideology of masculinism promotes certain organisational practices that stymie attempts to de-institutionalise hegemonic patterns of masculinity. This is achieved through a devaluation of emotional labour and the ensuing emotional process work, and the privileging of "individualised" responses to emotive dissonance. A collective response to certain kinds of emotionality, in the case of the DPS, that is, a recognition that men are as emotionally capable of caring for each other well as patients, is thwarted because it conflicts with the basic tenets of the wider gender regime - men are not carers, and if they engage in public caring work, they need to continually reproduce their manhood in a way that disallows a challenge to hegemonic masculinity. Consequently, the clash between the public "caring" and the private "conviction" is explained via an analysis of the interrelationships between organisational masculinity and organisational emotionality. <br />The ambiguity between what is emotionally acceptable within the frontstage culture of the DPS and what is not within the backstage culture is fuelled by the notion that men who care in public are required to engage in backstage compensatory work in order to avoid being castigated as not quite "man" enough. When officers find themselves in time and space that is not constitutive of frontstage emotional culture, they are required to conform to masculinist cultural edicts. One of the main roles of the backstage emotional culture is to ensure that no slippage occurs from frontstage emotionality and pollutes the wider masculinist culture. Thus, DPS officers are denied organisational emotional support because of the gendered and ideological notions of what a backstage male officer should be. However, the DPS relies heavily upon officers' ability to switch between hegemonically ascendant and subordinate masculinities as necessary for the kind of emotional labour they perform. <br />In conclusion, the "Scylla" of frontstage expectations and the "Charybdis" of backstage realities create competing tensions for DPS officers. In addition to this potential "lose-lose" predicament in terms of individual organisational identity, the customer's desire for a pure form of masculinity manifested through miltarized and managerial masculinities contributes to negation of the existence of multiple masculinities within this organisational context. <br />[Reference] References <br />[Reference] Acker, 1. (1990), "Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: a theory of gendered organisations", Gender and Society, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 139-58. Albrow, M. 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(1998), "From lads to maverick geniuses: masculinity and creative industries in the UK <br />[Reference] advertising industry", unpublished paper, International Sociological Association. Sinclair, A. (1998), Doing Leadership Differently: Gender, Power and Sexuality in a Changing Business, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne. Ungerson, C. (1 987a), Policy is Personal, Tavistock, London. Ungerson, C. (1987b), "The life course and informal caring: towards a typology", in Cohen, G. (Ed.), Social Change and the Life Course, Tavistock, London. Williams, C. (1995), Still a Man's World: Men Who do "Women's Work", University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. <br />[Reference] Further reading <br />[Reference] Fineman, S. (1995), "Stress, emotion and intervention", in Newton, T. (Ed.), Emotion and Stress: Emotion and Power at Work, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Hearn, J. (1993), "Emotive subjects: organisational man, organisational masculinities and the (de)construction of 'emotions'", in Fineman, S. (Ed.), Emotions in Organizations, Sage, London. <br />[Author Affiliation]The author <br />[Author Affiliation]Maree V. Boyle is a Lecturer, School of Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. <br />

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