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Moments of identity formation and reformation: a day in the working life of an academic

Ingo Winkler (Department of Border Region Studies, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 23 August 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the article is to illuminate micro‐processes and dynamics of identity work in an academic working context. It elaborates on the various and shifting self‐notions experienced within a typical workday of an academic.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts an analytic autoethnographic approach focusing on recalled experiences of the author's current employment in a university department. This approach is considered to contribute to the investigation of the intensive personal process of identity construction that likewise enhances the understanding of the connection between the individual person and the organization.

Findings

Illustrating the multifold notions of who one is in a particular work situation, the author demonstrates that identity work is correspondingly ongoing during the workday. Employing a workday narrative and the different self‐notions created throughout this day, the study illustrates the richness and variety in the identity work accomplished. Focusing on four particular workday events demonstrates how these situations serve as moments of identity work in the sense that they call for engaging in answering the question of who one is and how one should act.

Originality/value

Promoting a micro‐perspective, the study illuminates that identity work‐processes can also be observed within the relatively small‐scaled focus of an individual workday. It proposes to understand identity work as a process of micro‐level sensemaking. The study also reveals the shifting nature of self‐notions experienced over the day. It is not only various identities that are manufactured in relation to different workday events but also that these senses of oneself come at different levels of concreteness.

Keywords

Citation

Winkler, I. (2013), "Moments of identity formation and reformation: a day in the working life of an academic", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 191-209. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOE-11-2011-0001

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited