Repoliticizing Diversity Work? Exploring the Performative Potentials of Norm-critical Activism

Mie Plotnikof, Sara Louise Muhr*, Lotte Holck, Sine Nørholm Just

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Diversity management efforts often turn diversity issues into a business case, thereby depoliticizing these issues and shying away from more political concerns of inequality and discriminating norms of difference. In this study, we explore the performative potential of activist practices to promote the repoliticization of organizational diversity work. To do so, we draw on interviews with three explicitly norm-critical activists, discussing how insigths from their practices can inspire diversity work in formal organizational contexts. The three activists are (1) a twerk dancer, psychologist, radio host, and co-founder of a popular fourth-wave feminist group; (2) a project manager and co-founder of a non-governmental organization for minority ethnic lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender + people; and (3) an anarchist activist, gender educator, and founder of a gender network for educators. Showing how their norm-critical practices work through discursive tensions of personal↔public issues, safe↔unsafe spaces, and creative↔conventional methods, we discuss how these practices may perform in organizational settings, enabling the repoliticization of diversity work in and as the constant negotiation and recognition of norms of difference.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender, Work & Organization
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)466-485
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 16 November 2021.


  • Activist practices
  • Diversity management
  • Norm critique
  • Performativity
  • Repoliticization

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