How do we understand worker silence despite poor conditions – as the actress said to the woman bishop

Deborah Dean*, Anne Marie Greene

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers the customary choice of silence over voice of two groups of UK workers – women clergy and women actors – who routinely tolerate poor quality conditions rather than express dissatisfaction. We argue that a key mediating factor is an expanded version of Hirschman’s (1970) concept of loyalty. The article considers how occupational ideologies facilitate loyalty as adaptation to disadvantage in ways that discourage voice, in framing silence as positive. Consequently, we also identify this type of loyalty as potentially salient in understanding silence in other occupations. A descriptive model comparing strength of occupational ideology and voicing of dissatisfaction is outlined, and through discussion of findings the article offers conceptual refinements of loyalty in accounting for worker silence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1237-1257
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number10
Early online date12 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by funds from: Leicester Business School, De Montfort University; Susanna Wesley Foundation, Roehampton University; and Warwick Business School, University of Warwick.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.


  • calling
  • clergy
  • loyalty
  • occupational ideologies
  • voice
  • women workers - actors

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