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Rosalind Clair Gill
(1963-04-22) 22 April 1963 (age 57)
Cultural and creative work Media and popular culture Discursive, narrative, visual and psychosocial approaches Gender and sexuality
Rosalind Clair Gill (born 22 April 1963), is a British sociologist and feminist cultural theorist. She is currently Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at City, University of London. Gill is author or editor of ten books, and numerous articles and chapters, and her work has been translated into Chinese, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish.
Gill is the daughter of Janet and Michael Gill, whom she describes as left-wing and politically engaged parents. In an interview she says she grew up to be "a young, politically active, left-wing person" with a particular interest in "how culture, and ideology gets inside us and shapes us."
Professor Gill is known for her research interests in gender and sexuality, media and new technologies, the cultural and creative industries, and work and labour. Substantively her work has made major contributions to debates about postfeminism and neoliberalism; the persistence and dynamics of inequality; constructions of sex, sexuality and intimacy; and changing experiences of work in creative and academic fields. Her work is shaped by her interdisciplinary background, located between sociology, psychology, media and communications, and gender and sexuality studies. It is animated by psychosocial questions about power, inequality and the relationship between culture and subjectivity. She also has a long-standing interest in methodology and the research process, and has authored books and articles about discourse analysis, reflexivity, and secrets and silences in research.
One of Gill's most significant theoretical contributions is her discussion of postfeminism, which she claims is "one of the most important and contested terms in the lexicon of feminist cultural analysis". She argues that though the term has been used by scholars for decades there is still "no agreement among scholars about what postfeminism means. The term is used variously and contradictorily to signal a theoretical position, a type of feminism after the Second Wave, or a regressive political stance".
In a highly cited article in European Journal of Cultural Studies (ECJS) in 2007, Gill argued that post feminism should be thought of as a contemporary "sensibility", shaped by neoliberalism and "by stark and continuing inequalities" related to gender race and class. Elements of this sensibility include:
An obsessive preoccupation with the body
The shift from women being portrayed as submissive, passive objects, to being portrayed as active, desiring sexual subjects
The preeminence of notions of choice, 'being oneself' and 'pleasing oneself'
A focus on self-surveillance and discipline
A makeover paradigm
The reassertion of sexual difference
Media messages that are characterised by irony and knowingness
This framing of postfeminism has been very influential, with well over 1000 academic citations. In 2017, in the 20th anniversary issue of EJCS, Gill was asked to reflect on the piece and developed her argument in three important directions: emphasising the significance of intersectional analyses of postfeminist culture; highlighting the "psychic life" of postfeminism; and setting out directions for considering the affective dimensions of postfeminism, organised around confidence, resilience, positive thinking and "inspiration". In another significant intervention in the journal Feminist Media Studies in 2016 Gill explored the status of postfeminism in a moment characterised by both a resurgence of feminist activism and a heightened popular misogyny, and defended the continued relevance of the term to signify an object of critique.
New sexism and the dynamics of discrimination
Gill's work has also made a contribution to debates about how discrimination changes. In her Ph.D. research on British broadcasting, she built on analyses of new racism, and documented new forms of sexism. The term was coined to speak to the way that patterns of discrimination were taking new forms in a cultural context marked by more egalitarian values. In later work she looked at other media environments that explicitly marked themselves as 'cool, creative and egalitarian' showing the novel forms that sexism took in such sites. In a 2014 article in Social Politics she developed the notion that in seemingly egalitarian workplaces inequality becomes "unspeakable" and perhaps even unintelligible. This work challenges debates centred on maternity as the primary reason for women's underrepresentation in cultural and creative fields, and pointed to the need to explore the flexibility and dynamism of sexism as a set of practices.
Sex, "sexualisation" and intimacy
Gill has been a major contributor to debates about the alleged "sexualisation of culture", with a perspective she describes as "sex positive but anti-sexism". She was one of the organisers of a significant ESRC seminar series titled Pornified? Complicating the debates about the sexualisation of culture. This brought together artists, academics, policymakers and activists on different sides of the "sexualisation wars" divide. Gill consistently argued for the need to dialogue across differences and to think critically about the cultural processes gathered under the heading "sexualisation" with greater attention to specificities of power and identity. In an article in Sexualities she called for intersectional complications, arguing there is no "one size fits all" kind of sexualisation that does not vary by gender, sexuality, race, class, age etc. Gill's research has included a large-scale qualitative study of men's experiences of a visual culture increasingly dominated by idealised representations of the male body. She has also looked critically at the commercial "Love Your Body" trend and the packaging of "sexy" images through tropes of empowerment.
The representation of sex and sexuality remain key interests and Gill's 2018 monograph, Mediated Intimacy, co-written with Meg-John Barker and Laura Harvey, argues that media are our biggest source of information about sex and relationships, and charts the representation of what is depicted as "normal", and constructions of consent, desire, pleasure and work.
Work and labour
The experience of work in neoliberal societies represents another key focus for Gill. She has conducted extensive empirical research in "creative" occupations including broadcasting, advertising and web design. Her work has made important contributions to theorising both precariousness and inequality in these settings. Her co-edited collections Theorising Cultural Work (with Mark Banks and Stephanie Taylor) and Gender and Creative Labour (with Bridget Conor and Stephanie Taylor) pull together these arguments. Gill is also co-editor, with Ursula Huws, of Palgrave's Dynamics of Virtual Work series, which came out of an EU COST grant of the same name. In 2008 Gill co-edited a special issue of Theory, Culture & Society about work in the cultural and creative industries, and was author of an influential article about immaterial labour and precarity.
Academic work is a further interest, exemplified by Gill's much circulated essay "The Hidden Injuries of the Neoliberal University", and several subsequent articles. Gill's contribution has been to move beyond programmatic accounts of the "corporate university" or "new public management" and to explore the lived experience of working cultures marked by increasing precariousness, time pressure, and audit.
Gill has also worked with a range of governmental, non-governmental and activist bodies. She serves on several editorial boards including Feminist Media Studies; Theory, Culture & Society; Communication, Culture and Critique; Feminism & Psychology; Psychology and Sexuality; Australian Feminist Studies; and International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics. Besides the contribution of her own research, Gill's influence has also been felt through her teaching and extensive PhD supervision. Many former PhD students have gone on to have successful academic careers, including Dr Feyza Akinerdem, Dr Sara de Benedictis, Dr Simidele Dosekun, Dr Laura Favaro, Dr Roisin Ryan Flood, Dr Laura Harvey, Dr Tracey Jensen, Professor Elisabeth Kelan, Dr Jongmi Kim, Dr Rachel O'Neill, Dr Christina Scharff, and Dr Karen Throsby.
Work in progress
Gill is currently writing a book for Duke University press that develops her work with Shani Orgad on "The Confidence Cult". She is also working on a critical collection for Palgrave interrogating "creative hubs". This partly emerges from the AHRC award Creativeworks London. Finally, she is completing a monograph about postfeminism/gendered neoliberalism for Polity Press.
Additionally, she is developing research projects about academia, dating apps, and machine vision of the body. In an interview in Open Democracy she explains that the latter develops from work about beauty apps and surveillance.
Gill, Rosalind (1993). "Ideology, gender and popular radio: A discourse analytic approach". Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research. 6 (3): 323-339. doi:10.1080/13511610.1993.9968359.
Gill, Rosalind; Barker, Meg-John; Harvey, Laura (2018). Mediated intimacy: sex advice in media culture. Cambridge, UK Medford, Massachusetts: Polity Press. ISBN9781509509157.
Chapters in books
Gill, Rosalind; Grint, Keith (1995), "Introduction - the gender-technology relation: contemporary theory and research.", in Gill, Rosalind; Grint, Keith (eds.), The gender-technology relation: contemporary theory and research, London Bristol, Pennsylvania: Taylor & Francis, pp. 1-28, ISBN9780748401611.
Gill, Rosalind (2010), "Gender", in Albertazzi, Daniele; Cobley, Paul (eds.), The media: an introduction (3rd ed.), New York: Pearson Education, pp. 410-426, ISBN9781405840361.
Gill, Rosalind (2010), "Breaking the silence: the hidden injuries of the neoliberal university.", in Gill, Rosalind; Ryan-Flood, Róisín (eds.), Secrecy and silence in the research process: feminist reflections, London: Routledge, pp. 228-244, ISBN9780415605175.
Gill, Rosalind; Harvey, Laura (2011), "Spicing it up: sexual entrepreneurs and the sex inspectors.", in Gill, Rosalind; Scharff, Christina (eds.), New femininities: postfeminism, neoliberalism, and subjectivity, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 52-67, ISBN9780230223349.
Gill, Rosalind (2011), "Bend it like Beckham: the challenges of reading gender and visual culture.", in Reavey, Paula (ed.), Visual methods in psychology: using and interpreting images in qualitative research, Hove, East Sussex New York: Psychology Press Routledge, pp. 29-42, ISBN9780415483483.
Gill, Rosalind (2011), "Lad flicks: discursive reconstructions of masculinity in popular film.", in Radner, Hilary; Stringer, Rebecca (eds.), Feminism at the movies: understanding gender in contemporary popular cinema, Oxon New York: Routledge, ISBN9780415895880.
Gill, Rosalind; Donaghue, Ngaire (2013), "Agency, sex and postfeminism.", in Madhok, Sumi; Phillips, Anne; Wilson, Kalpana (eds.), Gender, agency, and coercion, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN9780230300323.
^Gill, Rosalind (2000). "Discourse analysis: Analysing Texts, Contexts and Social Relations". In Bauer, M.; Gaskell, G. (eds.). Procedures for Qualitative Research. London: Sage.
^Gill, Rosalind (2018). "Discourse Analysis in Media and Communications Research". In Mackmann, M.; Kearney, M. C. (eds.). The Craft of Criticism: Critical Media Studies in Practice. New York: Routledge.
^Gill, Rosalind (1998). "Dialogues and Differences: Reflexivity, Writing and the Crisis of Representation". In Henwood, K.; Griffin, C.; Phoenix, A. (eds.). Standpoints and Differences Essays in the Practice of Feminist Psychology. Sage. ISBN9780761954446.
^Gill, R.; Ryan-Flood, R., eds. (2010). Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections. New York: Routledge.
^Gill, Rosalind (1993). "Justifying injustice: broadcasters accounts of inequality in radio". In Burman, E.; Parker, I. (eds.). Discourse Analytic research: readings and Repertoires of Texts in Action. London: Routledge.
^Gill, Rosalind (2009). "Beyond the "sexualisation of culture" thesis: an intersectional analysis of '"sixpacks". "midriffs" and "hot lesbians". Sexualities. 12 (2): 137-160. doi:10.1177/1363460708100916. S2CID144941660.
^Gill, Rosalind (2011). "Bend it like Beckham? The challenges of reading gender in visual culture". In Reavey, Paula (ed.). Visual Psychologies. London & New York: Routledge. pp. 29-42. ISBN978-1136812569.
^Elias, Ana Sofia; Gill, Rosalind; Scharff, Christina (2017). "Aesthetic Labour: Beauty politics in neoliberalism". In Elias; Gill, Rosalind; Scharff, Christina (eds.). Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave. pp. 3-49. ISBN978-1-137-47765-1.