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Markets, contingency and preferences: contemporary managers' narrative identities

Martin, Bill and Wajcman, Judy (2004) Markets, contingency and preferences: contemporary managers' narrative identities. Sociological Review, 52 (2). pp. 240-264. ISSN 0038-0261

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Abstract

We explore work identity amongst managers, a key group in the 'new' capitalism. Some existing accounts of such workplace identities emphasize new 'cultures of control', others focus on new requirements and possibilities of individual autonomy through reflective identity formation, while others identify a crisis in workplace identity formation. Focusing on these issues, we analyse the career narratives of 136 managers and show that our empirical data do not neatly fit any existing models. Managers' career stories were dominated by a 'market' narrative, in which they placed themselves as strategic actors making choices in a social world constituted by market-like interactions. We show that the market narrative frames how managers understand risks to their careers arising from the contingent actions of firms, and how it provides a space for managers to reflectively identify their preferences and pleasures. We consider the consequences of this analysis for contemporary understandings of work and identity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0038-0261
Additional Information: © 2004 The Editorial Board of The Sociological Review
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2010 15:40
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28636/

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