Work-based subjectivity and identity: assisted self-service in contemporary British retailing

Du Gay, Paul (1992). Work-based subjectivity and identity: assisted self-service in contemporary British retailing. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e02a

Abstract

This thesis explores the discursive construction of work-based subjectivity and identity. It seeks to analyse both theoretically and empirically how people are 'made up' at work, first, by creating a theoretical framework for exploring the discursive production of work-based subjectivities and identities and second, by deploying this framework to examine the production of new work identifies and the construction of particular work-based subjects in a specific service industry.

The organization of the thesis reflects this two-fold division. Part one (chapters two, three and four) explores certain limitations in traditional approaches to the analysis of work identity within sociology and attempts to construct a tentative alternative framework for analysing the discursive construction of workbased subjectivity and identity. The concept of 'discourse', it is argued, provides a means of overcoming the 'binary oppositions' - between 'individual' and 'productive apparatus' and 'ideology' and 'truth' - that have characterised analyses of work-identity within sociology by indicating the relational and dislocated nature of any social identity.

In the second part of the thesis (chapters five, six and seven), the theoretical framework developed in part one is deployed to examine the construction of new work identities and the production of particular work-based subjects in contemporary British retailing. Thus, in part two of the thesis, the retailing sector functions as a 'case study' for exploring how people are 'made up' at work in the present.

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