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Being me whilst learning Danish. A story of narrative identity work during the process of learning a foreign language

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

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




Telling the story of the author’s attempts acquiring the Danish language over the past three and a half years, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how identity work is narratively accomplished within organisational contexts. It aims at developing an in-depth understanding of the process of identity work.


The autoethnographic study illuminates narratives of subjectivity that inform notions of identity during the author’s journey of learning Danish and how this enterprise is embedded in the workplace surroundings.


The autoethnography carves out seven distinct, yet, inter-related narratives of subjectivity constituting the notion of who I am and what I should do within the process of learning Danish as a foreign language.


Instead of only describing different self-notions within identity work, the process view adopted in this research enables understanding of the various tensions, struggles and contradictions inherent in identity work. Examining the process of identity work sheds light on the multiplicity of self-notions emerging and re-emerging over time, co-existing, replacing each other, intertwining, struggling for dominance, and through this constituting the precarious and ongoing sense of identity.



The author would like to thank the editors, Susan Ainsworth and Gillian Symon, for their support during the revision and the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable remarks for improving the paper.


Winkler, I. (2014), "Being me whilst learning Danish. A story of narrative identity work during the process of learning a foreign language", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 290-307.



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