Identities in and around organizations: towards an identity work perspective

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There is an emergent identity work perspective that draws on multiple intertwined streams of established identities theorizing and identities-related research. This perspective is characterized loosely by five broad sets of assumptions: (i) selves are reflexive and identities actively worked on, both in soliloquy and social interaction; (ii) identities are multiple, fluid and rarely fully coherent; (iii) identities are constructed within relations of power; (iv) identities are not helpfully described as either positive or authentic; and (v) identities are both interesting per se and integral to processes of organizing. Recognition of an emergent identity work perspective is valuable in part because this may act as a counterbalance to centrifugal tendencies – fed by myopia, insularity and ethnocentrism – which might otherwise lead to blinkered research and fragmentation. The contribution of this article is to provide a baseline for identity work scholars, and to promote collective critical reflection on identities in and around organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1205-1237
Number of pages33
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number7
Early online date25 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • identity
  • identity work
  • identity work perspective
  • review
  • self

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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