Interrogating silent privileges across the work–life boundaries and careers of high-intensity knowledge professionals

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Privilege is often silent, invisible and not made explicit, and silence is a key question for theorizing on organizations. This paper examines interrelations between privilege and silence for relatively privileged professionals in high-intensity knowledge businesses (KIBs). The paper draws on 112 interviews in two rounds of interviews using the the Collaborative Interactive Action Research
method. The analysis focuses on processes of recruitment, careers, and negotiation of boundaries between work and non-work in these KIBs. We study how relative privilege within social inequalities connects with silences in multiple ways, and how the invisibility of privilege operates at different levels: individual identities and interpersonal actions of privilege (micro), as organizational level phenomena (meso), or as societally constructed (macro). At each level, privilege is reproduced in part through silence. We also examine how processes connecting silence, privilege and social inequalities operate differently in relation to both disadvantage and the disadvantaged, and privilege and the privileged.

Our study is relevant for organization studies, especially in the kinds of "multi-privileged" contexts where inequalities, disadvantages and subordination may remain hidden and silenced, and, thus, are continuously reproduced.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management : An International Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20.10.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • knowledge professionals
  • knowledge-intensive businesses
  • privilege
  • silence
  • careers
  • work/non-work boundaries

Sustainable Development Goals

  • GOAL 05: Gender Equality
  • GOAL 08: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising

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