LIFE, CULTURE AND SUBJECTIVITY IN THE SOFTWARE INDUSTRY: THE DISCOURSE OF “FULL SELFHOOD” AMONG TECH PROFESSIONALS
Keywords:Workplace inequities, gender, discourse, industry cultures, platform industry
The push for tech companies to incorporate fun and leisure at work as seen in games rooms, health and wellness, and onsite exercise facilities encourages employees in the industry to celebrate work as a core aspect of their subjectivities, and purports to create space for them to bring their “full selves” to professional spaces. Yet, while the individuals I studied were often called to be their “full selves” in the online and offline settings of their places of work and throughout the broader industry, this could be a frustrating discourse, in particular for those who were underrepresented. In the present paper I investigate the industry discourse around “full selfhood” alongside an analysis of how individuals working in the sector negotiated this discourse. I ask how the relation between subjectivity and culture may serve to reproduce or challenge inequities within the sector. Relatedly, I argue that in professional software contexts, performing subjectivity can be an exhaustive process that involves continuous assessment, further complexifying how to perform the “full self.” Additionally, the discourse of “full selfhood” exists within spaces dominated by privileged identities, and in which “ideal” subjectivities often correspond to these positionalities. Thus, the “full selfhood” discourse can lead to tensions surrounding the subjectivities individuals are called to have, and those they are able to take up and sustain, bringing political consequences centered on the self.