It's not only what we say but what we do”: Researching the rationales for the establishment of pay in five mixed sex, democratic worker cooperatives in Buenos Aires, Argentina
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As I explored in my previous SSHRC* funded research in 2006, worker cooperatives are based on the ideals of democratic participation and of egalitarianism: in general assemblies all the workers vote on the general principles under which the worker cooperatives are run, vote in [and out] their coordinators or managers and executive, and vote on capital and wage expenditures. However, what the research on worker cooperatives does not confront is how those ideals, and particularly these ideals of egalitarianism, can be subverted without careful attention to patriarchy, specifically as patriarchy circulates in rationales for pay. The purpose of this follow up project and this subsequent paper is to detail the impact of these rationales for pay on five mixed sex worker coops in Buenos Aires and their commitment to egalitarian relations between women and men: my main objective in this paper will be to explore whether the rhetoric of egalitarianism continues to match the reality of pay. My specific objectives in this paper will be to analyse which rationales are used to justify equal pay between women and men; or conversely, which are used to justify unequal pay. This is to provide for others who are working within worker cooperatives an opportunity to learn what might work for them, given that they want to accomplish more egalitarian relations between women and men, pay as a tangible expression of that. It is also to provide other more conventional organizations an opportunity to use this information to analyse the rationales for pay, and then to construct more equal pay regimes. Pay rates between women and men and their rationales remain a problem even in the conventional academic literature, which continues to allude to the problems of analysing why women and men continue to be paid differently, the difficulty in analysing the rationales, and the difficulties of paying more equally. This research on the rationales for pay in alternative modes of working like worker cooperatives ostensibly committed to egalitarian forms of organizing is shaped by my adherence to the legacies of Freud and Marx as they inform the work of the contemporary French philosopher Luce Irigaray [1993,a,b; 2000, 2004] and her work on rethinking our hierarchical symbolic structures as contiguous in order to make a place for sexual difference next to sexual difference, difference next to difference, rather than difference as necessarily lesser than the same or the norm [which in almost all of our organizational theory is in reality the unacknowledged male who masquerades as the same or the norm against which the different is always found to be lesser]. The uniqueness of this approach lies in my focus, informed by Irigaray, on how these rationales can be understood in terms of their expression of egalitarianism as contiguous, and the tangible expression of contiguity as paying every member, women and men, the same, or contiguous forms of organizing given tangible expression in equal pay between women and men.