Identity threats, identity work, and elite professionals

Andrew D Brown, Christine Coupland

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114 Citations (SciVal)
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Elite professionals opportunistically employ threats to their work identities to author preferred selves. Predicated on understandings that identities are subjectively available to people as in-progress narratives, and that these are often insecure fabrications, we investigate the identity work of members of a UK-based professional Rugby League club. The research contribution we make is to demonstrate that professionals use identity threats as flexible resources for working on favoured identities. We show that rugby players authored identity threats centred on the shortness of their careers, injury, and performance, and how these were appropriated (made their own) by men to develop desired occupational and masculine identities. In so doing, we also contribute to debates on how professionals’ identity discourse is an expression of agency framed within relations of power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1336
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number10
Early online date30 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


  • Discourse; Identity; Insecurity; Masculinity; Narrative; Power; Professional; Threat


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