Radicalizing Diversity (Research): Time to Resume Talking about Class

Laurence Romani*, Patrizia Zanoni, Lotte Holck

*Corresponding author for this work

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In this editorial, we plea for radicalizing diversity research by re‐engaging with the notion of class. We argue that theories of class, which are today seldom used in critical diversity research, have the potential to conceptualize the relationship between difference and power in ways that go beyond the current focus on equality within capitalist organizations. Theories of class radicalize diversity research by providing a conceptual vocabulary to ground the critique of diversity in the critique of capitalism. To highlight this potential, we first reconstruct the ideological historical context of the 1980s in which diversity research emerged, re‐embedding it in a broader political project to restructure the economy, work and society as a whole. We then present four main uses of the concept of class in management and organization studies and the theoretical traditions that underpin them. We go on to introduce the four contributions to this Special Section, illustrating how class, variously understood, can inform critical understandings of diversity. We conclude by leveraging class within four strategies for more radical diversity scholarship: classing workers, occupations, and workplaces; classing diversity; classing meritocracy; and classing struggles for social justice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)8-23
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 28 November 2020.


  • Capitalism
  • Class
  • Diversity
  • Equal opportunities
  • Inequality
  • Meritocracy
  • Radicalism
  • Social justice

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