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

Charlotta Niemistö*, Jeff Hearn, Mira Karjalainen, Annamari Tuori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


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).

This paper draws on 112 interviews in two rounds of interviews using the collaborative interactive action research method. The analysis focuses on processes of recruitment, careers and negotiation of boundaries between work and nonwork in these KIBs. The authors 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. The authors 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.

This 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
Pages (from-to)503-522
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 14.07.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


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

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

  • AoS: Responsible organising


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