The Different Next to the Different: Worker Coops in Buenos Aires, Women and Men, and Rethinking and Redoing the Role of Coordinator presented at the Engineering Leadership: Through Research and Practice Conference in Perth, Australia, July 22-24, 2008
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In this paper I want to examine how hierarchy and patriarchy ”shorthand for sexual hierarchy”intersect to subvert egalitarian organizing processes in five worker cooperatives in Buenos Aires. More specifically, I want to examine how the workers, women and men, attempted to confront those mutually reinforcing hierarchical and patriarchal processes in how they organized together to get work done by focusing on the role of the elected coordinator, the bridge which exemplifies the link between â€˜More than workers, less than bossesâ€™. How did this position of elected coordinator reveal their commitment to egalitarian ways of organizing as they struggled to confront the workings of hierarchy in all its forms, not only between workers and bosses, but also between women and men in the Buenos Aires worker cooperatives? This paper will draw on the French philosopher Luce Irigaray and her focus on [sexual] difference as contiguous rather than as [sexual] difference as lesser than the same, and therefore hierarchical, and the Canadian historical and cultural commitment to difference as non-substitutable, in order to rethink how egalitarian ways of organizing can be achieved between women and men.