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Workplace accentism as a postcolonial and intersectional phenomenon: the experiences of Brazilians in Portugal

Śliwa, M. ORCID:, Aguzzoli, R. ORCID:, Brewster, C. ORCID: and Lengler, J. (2023) Workplace accentism as a postcolonial and intersectional phenomenon: the experiences of Brazilians in Portugal. Human Relations. ISSN 1741-282X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/00187267231198965


What insights can postcolonialism and decoloniality offer into workplace accentism? Drawing upon these two strands of literature, this article contributes to workplace research through proposing a view of accentism as an intersectional phenomenon, rooted in the historically sedimented unequal social structure and relations formed during the colonial past. Based on a qualitative study of Brazilians in Portugal, we identify two forms of workplace accentism experienced by the participants: (1) overt accentism – which involves an explicit, direct reference to a person’s accent; and (2) accent-activated stigmatisation – which occurs upon the listener’s realisation that the speaker is a member of a particular group (specifically, nationality). We theorise the experiences of accentism as contemporary manifestations of the workings of colonial power and prejudices. In addition, we distinguish between four approaches to managing workplace accentism: suppressing, confronting, marginalising and exiting. We theorise these as contemporary expressions of resistance strategies historically used by the colonised in response to colonial power. We also highlight the intersectional differences – along the axes of class, race and gender – with regard to individuals’ deployment of each of these approaches. The article enriches our knowledge about how colonial power relations continue to underpin discrimination and its consequences throughout the global economy.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > International Business and Strategy
ID Code:113461
Uncontrolled Keywords:Management of Technology and Innovation, Strategy and Management, General Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Publisher:SAGE Publications


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