Working identities? Antagonistic discursive resources and managerial identity

Clarke, Caroline A.; Brown, Andrew D. and Hope Hailey, Veronica (2009). Working identities? Antagonistic discursive resources and managerial identity. Human Relations, 62(3) pp. 323–353.



In this paper, we analyze the principal antagonistic discourses on which managers in a large UK-based engineering company drew in their efforts to construct versions of their selves. Predicated on an understanding that subjectively construed discursive identities are available to individuals as in-progress narratives that are contingent and fragile, the research contribution we make is threefold. First, we argue that managers may draw on mutually antagonistic discursive resources in authoring conceptions of their selves. Second, we contend that rather than being relatively coherent or completely fluid and fragmented managers’ identity narratives may incorporate contrasting positions or antagonisms. Third, we show that managers’ identity work constituted a continuing quest to (re)-author their selves as moral beings. Antagonisms in managers’ identities, we suggest, may appropriately be analyzed as the complex and ambiguous effects of organizationally-based disciplinary practices and individuals’ discursive responses to them.

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