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Belonging at work: the experiences, representations and meanings of belonging

Cathrine Filstad (Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour, BI Norwegian School of Business, Oslo, Norway and The Norwegian Police University College, Norway)
Laura E.M. Traavik (Department of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour, BI Norwegian School of Business, Oslo, Norway)
Mara Gorli (Faculty of Economics, Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Milan, Milan, Italy)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 3 April 2019

Issue publication date: 8 April 2019




This paper aims to explore what belonging is through the represented experience of people at work. The aim is to investigate employees’ interpretations of belonging at work and its interrelation with the material, aesthetic and emotional aspects associated to the where, the how and the when workplace is inhabited.


In line with the practice turn in social sciences, this study uses the visual method (snaplogs), which includes pictures and texts.


Belonging is situated in and integrated with social interactions, materiality, emotions and aesthetics. Belonging is about being part of something, the process of becoming through constant mediation between material aspects and social components, the process of experiencing boundaries and the attempt to perform, engage and participate (and find spaces for shared practices) in a workplace. Together, they constitute the situatedness, the here and now, of experiences of belonging and the perceived interpretation of being one among equals across organizational boundaries.

Research limitations/implications

Data were only collected at one point in time. The authors also relied on their own interpretations of pictures and texts and did not involve the informants in the analysis.

Practical implications

Being, becoming and belonging comprise material, social and affective dimensions. These dimensions should be addressed for employees to belong at work.


This study contributes to the belonging literature on perceived interpretations of what belonging is at work. The paper is also original in terms of the visual method used to grasp the practice representation of belonging experiences.



Filstad, C., Traavik, L.E.M. and Gorli, M. (2019), "Belonging at work: the experiences, representations and meanings of belonging", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 116-142.



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