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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Murphy Practice Job Talk

Ryan Murphy, PhD '10, will present "United Airlines is for Lovers: Flight Attendant Activism and the Family Values Economy in the 1990s" on Thursday, January 19th at 2pm in the Scott Hall Commons.

Dr. Ryan Murphy presents a piece of his research on flight attendants and their unions to theorize new directions in queer and labor activism in the late 20th century. In the decades since 1970, traditional "family values" have been cast as organizing principles of society, with marriage promotion initiatives, abortion restrictions, and welfare cutbacks increasingly central to public policy and economic management. But as the "post-industrial" economy has favored jobs that are temporary, flexible, and low paying, fewer and fewer people actually live in a nuclear family or depend on the wages of a sole male breadwinner. Since the airlines' demand for constant travel means that flight attendants have never been able to comply with the mandate for normative domesticity, the needs and desires of non-traditional families have guided flight attendants' activism at work. As he analyzes their leading role in the push for "domestic partner benefits" in the Fortune 500, Murphy demonstrates how flight attendants' longstanding queer critique guided an employee pushback against corporate austerity measures in the 1990s, all while refusing the mainstream LGBT movement's increasingly explicit commitment to middle class values of privatization and personal responsibility.