This article examines the spoken interactions of a group of British construction workers to discover whether it is possible to identify a distinctive ‘builders’ discourse’. Given that builders work for a mostly all-male profession (Curjao, 2006), we ask whether the ways in which male builders converse with each other while ‘on the job’ can be held in any way responsible for the under-representation of women within this major occupational sector in the UK. This article reports on a case study of the conversations of three white, working-class, male builders, which took place while travelling in a truck between different building sites. This forms part of a larger ethnographic study of builders’ discourse in different work locations. The analysis shows that male builders are highly collaborative in constructing narratives of in-group and out-group identities (Duszak, 2002; Tajfel, 1978). Various other male groups are demonized in these conversations: Polish immigrant builders, rude clients and rival builders. However, there is almost no reference to women. The article concludes that women are viewed as so unthreatening to male ascendancy in the building industry that they do not even feature within the ‘out-group’.
- collaborative talk
- construction of identities