Family ties: migrant businesswomen doing identity work on the public-private divide

C. Essers, H. Doorewaard, Y. Benschop

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article contributes to the literature on identity work and small business studies, by identifying various forms of identity work of female business owners of Turkish and Moroccan descent in the Netherlands, in relation to two sets of identity regulations stemming from their families, regarding the norms of 'being a good woman' and 'dealing with family support'. Identity work refers to the way subjects form, maintain, strengthen or revise constructions of self in relation to the claims and demands issued on them. Our analysis, which is based on McAdams's life-narrative approach, demonstrates in detail how social actors perform identity work in continuous interplay with their family environment when powerful, multiple, and even contradictory normative demands are made on those identities. We have demonstrated how these migrant female business owners use various cultural repertoires to negotiate and manipulate the family norms and values in order to seek and hold their position in the public domain effectively. Our research has revealed a variety of identity work manifestations, all strategically maneuvering between conflict and compliance. © The Author(s) 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1665
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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