The authors are two social work academics working in a UK Higher Education Institute. Social work is underpinned by principles of anti-oppressive practice which leads to challenge discrimination and stigmatisation. The authors explored experiences of deficit imposed by others' perceptions of the physical and ethnic appearance and mental health status. The authors consider how these features influence how the authors locate themselves within the wider contexts of academic spaces in higher education institutions (HEI).
Using duoethnography, a collaborative research methodology, the authors recorded reflections on their experiences for five months and met weekly to discuss their material. This process enabled them to engage in dialogic narrative through collaborative writing using both structured and unstructured reflections. The authors analysed the reflections using thematic data analysis.
Four themes were generated that led to understanding how the authors could challenge oppression. The oppression became visible as the authors reflected on the common experiences of deficit. The understanding of other's oppression as well as the authors’ own became clearer as the unconscious experiences became conscious. The authors began to locate the experiences of being both privileged and oppressed in the wider social context of the HE. Finally, the authors recognised how the “deficit” identities could transform into strengths.
This personal journey of two academics reflecting on how they are paradoxically both privileged and yet oppressed challenges other professionals to honestly explore how they themselves can occupy both roles and become allies in confronting discrimination in all its forms.
Fox, J. and Sangha, J. (2022), "White, Brown, mad, fat, male and female academics: a duoethnography challenging our experiences of deficit identities", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOE-07-2022-0024
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