The Political Right to Have 'Society in the Bones': The Skill and Brawn of Male Workers in Qatar
Scholars of gender and work have considered the gendered interpretation of embodied skill, and have shown how discourses about gender inform the visibility of skill and the value attributed to it. In their focus on discourse, they have overlooked the impact of institutional structures in shaping how skill is valued. This essay considers the situation of male workers in Qatar’s construction industry to argue that gender analyses of work should pay attention to the legal and institutional constraints placed on workers. These structures abet understandings of gender that enable employers to erase the embodied skill of workers and their contribution to the production process, even as they limit the ability of workers to perform their gender identity in a way that assigns value to their expertise.