The Gendering Power of Genres: How Female Scandinavian Crime Fiction Writers Experience Professional Authorship

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This article introduces the notion of genre as an analytical category for the study of gender inequality in creative work. Research on gender and creative labour typically identifies external, systemic and structural causes for gender inequality in media industries. In contrast, I argue that genres, by virtue of their internal, structural and discursive patterning, play a constitutive role in regulating media producers’ gendered professional identities, shaping their struggle for recognition and structuring their economic sustainability. Rather than being merely outcomes of production processes, genres shape gender inequality: They possess gendering power that influences how media producers work, think and feel. Gendering and gendered genre norms that privilege ‘masculine’ over ‘female’ values are so hard-wired in occupational practice and professional codes of conduct that the genre itself becomes a control and boundary ascription mechanism that implicitly governs, sustains and reproduces gendered identity formation, career aspirations and biographical standing. Drawing on in-depth interviews with female producers of Scandinavian crime fiction, globally branded as Nordic Noir, I examine how female writers in Denmark have coped with and experienced the gendering effect of the genre in which they work and to which they are financially beholden. I also tease out the ways in which crime fiction, a masculine genre, causes anxiety of authorship and affects female producers’ identity and boundary work. This focus on the gendering power of genres may potentially help us understand the gender disparities in media industries – disparities that endure despite efforts at policing fair access and equal opportunity.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)377-396
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Creative labour
  • Crime fiction
  • Female crime fiction writers
  • Gender
  • Gender inequality
  • Genre
  • Media work
  • Nordic Noir
  • Professional authorship
  • Scandinavian publishing field

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