Gaslighting and dispelling: Experiences of NGO workers in navigating gendered corruption

Smolovic-Jones, Nela (2022). Gaslighting and dispelling: Experiences of NGO workers in navigating gendered corruption. Human Relations (Accepted Manuscript Online).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00187267221083274

Abstract

How does corruption adopt gendered guises and how do women combat it in practice? Theorising from the basis of a 30-month ethnography within a women’s NGO, the article proposes gaslighting as a way of interpreting gendered corruption, due to its elusive but pernicious nature. Gaslighting is posited as the deployment of tactics to make women doubt their sanity and as a means of securing personal advantage. Gaslighting triggers embodied forms of struggle, and the article offers the notion of dispelling as denoting the persistent, patient and reiterative counter-practice of NGO practitioners to assert democratic norms of liberty and equality. The article provides rich empirical insight both into how corruption is enacted through the citing of patriarchal norms and how such norms are contested through the bodies of practitioners. These insights are important at a time when governments globally claim gender equality while undermining it in practice.

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