Bearing the Brunt of Structural Inequality: Ontological Labor in the Academy

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 6 (1) (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Empirical data show that members of underrepresented and historically marginalized groups in academia undertake many forms of undervalued or unnoticed labor. While the data help to identify that this labor exists, they do not provide a thick description of what the experience is like, nor do they offer a framework for understanding the different kinds of invisible labor that are being undertaken. We identify and analyze a distinct, undervalued, and invisible labor that the data have left unnamed and unmeasured: ontological labor, the work required to manage one’s identity and body if either or both do not fit into academic structures, norms, and demands. We argue that ontological labor efforts should be understood as a form of labor. We then provide a characterization of ontological labor, detailing the labor as navigating one’s obligations to give and managing entitlements to take. We also highlight the ontological labor that takes place through instances of resistance, such as through complaint or refusals.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 80,001

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Labor markets.Andrzej Klimczuk - 2017 - In Bryan Turner (ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 1--5.
Mental Labor and its Creativity.Shingo Shibata - 1980 - Russian Studies in Philosophy 19 (3):38-51.
Rethinking Immaterial Labor.Jason Del Gandio - 2011 - Radical Philosophy Review 14 (2):121-138.
Sweatshops, labor rights, and comparative advantage.Gary Chartier - 2008 - Oregon Review of International Law 10 (1):149--188.
Linguistic labor and its division.Jeff Engelhardt - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1855-1871.
Surplus Labor and Crime.Dustin Garlitz - 2014 - In J. Mitchell Miller (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology. Wiley-Blackwell.
Rethinking Immaterial Labor.Jason Del Gandio - 2011 - Radical Philosophy Review 14 (2):121-138.


Added to PP

17 (#658,501)

6 months
1 (#478,598)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Melissa Jacquart
University of Cincinnati
Ann Cahill
Elon College
Ruthanne Kim
Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations