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Conversational identity work in everyday interaction

Mcinnes, Peter and Corlett, S. (2012) Conversational identity work in everyday interaction. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 28 (1). pp. 27-38. ISSN 0956-5221

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Abstract

Increasing numbers of studies are identifying ‘identity work’ in research participants’ efforts to establish, maintain, deny or change the identity positions being ascribed to self and other. However, as authors variously emphasize how far identity is negotiated between people, on the one hand, and how far it is determined by prevailing discourses and local ideational notions of who people are, on the other, we are arguably no closer to understanding how identity work gets done in everyday organizational talk. To address this issue we present a conceptualisation of identity work that contrasts these two aspects. Through an analysis of talk in a mundane, everyday, meeting we identify and illustrate five prevalent identity work forms. Taken together, these forms and the conceptualisation represent an important first-step towards developing a more nuanced understanding of the different ways in which people's identities are engaged in, reproduced through, and altered by their participation in their everyday routine organizing practices.