Explaining and challenging the growing level of income inequality in organisations: Corpora of texts about pay in UK universities taken from the press, remuneration committees and trade unions

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Nicholas Black

Abstract

To explain and challenge the growing level of income inequality in organisations, this thesis collected and analysed corpora of texts about pay in UK universities from the press, remuneration committees and trade unions. Deploying the methodology of critical discourse analysis, it describes the contents of arguments as discourse types, interprets the reasoning behind arguments as genres of organisation theories and explains the common-sense assumptions ordering arguments as ideological values. Seeking answers, the analysis groups 30,038 data fragments into 74 first-order discourse types, 7 aggregate genres of organisation theories and 9 ideological values across three corpora of texts. Finding from the press suggested that actors drew upon the same set of organisation theories regardless of whether they were discursively challenging or defending the legitimacy of income inequality. This made it unfeasible to halt the level of income inequality because the underlying ideological values of competition, quantification and economic rationality only required the organisations to conform to unclear methodological processes. Thus, it is only possible to challenge the legitimacy of income inequality by proposing new members’ resources, which objectified the exact contingencies for when it was appropriate. This insight lead to the creation of a new genre of organisation theory, which proposed paying employees relative to their comparative sacrifices. Findings from remuneration committees suggested that their members drew upon organisation theories to legitimise income inequality, which related to the ideological values of economic science, individualism and capitalistic hierarchy. However, how these ideological values constructed the legitimacy of their decisions lacked a substantiate rationality because the neoliberal model of capitalism was a source of legitimacy within itself. As such, the foundations of legitimacy were critiqued and a 2x2 matrix consisting of a process–outcome axis and pragmatic–moral axis was introduced. Applying this matrix to this corpus of text meant that none of these genres of organisation theories reasoned based on outcomes. Therefore, a new genre of organisation was proposed which focused on the income distribution shape for organisations. Findings from trade unions suggested that their representatives drew upon the same set of organisation theories to reinforce their own legitimacy in addition to interrogating the legitimacy of universities. These organisational theories were then related to the ideological values of performativity, exchange relations and freedom that hegemonically legitimised income inequality. Meanwhile, it was interpreted that trade unions relied on the neoliberal model of capitalism for their existence and were encouraging employees to participate in markets that only served the interests of employers. Therefore, a new members’ resource was proposed, which conceptualised why sacrifice was a moral and pragmatic process for distributing pay to employees in comparison with other macro-economic frameworks. The findings from these three corpora of texts explained and challenged the social practices that were creating income inequality growth. Essentially, the ideological values of neoliberalism ordered discourse so that there was no reason to reduce the level of income inequality according to the dominate members’ resources. Therefore, to change these social practices three new discourses were proposed which challenged the level of income inequality by illustrating the false consciousness embodied within their reasoning.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2017