The Process of Identity Work: Negotiating a Work Identity

A. Crafford, B.G. Adams, T. Saayman, C.J. Vinkenburg

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Identity work is an important process in negotiating, regulating and maintaining a coherent sense of self-(identity). In this chapter we discuss how identity work is particularly useful in establishing a work identity. The crux of the discussion in this chapter is based on the qualitative phase of the Work Identity Project and consists of four parts. The first deals with the conceptualisation of the terms identity work and work identity. The second part provides an overview of models for work identity negotiation and outlines a framework developed in the context of the Work Identity Project. This is used to explore key concepts and processes of identity work and, more specifically, the concepts personal identity, individual agency, social identity, social practices and job and role context. The third part of the chapter outlines various studies of identity work strategies and introduces nine different strategies developed as part of the Work Identity Project. These are grouped according to four different themes that people may follow to develop and maintain their work identities. These four themes are personal philosophies, relationships, career management and negotiating balance. Thereafter, a framework for classifying identity work strategies is proposed. Finally, the chapter provides a summary of conclusions and implications for practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConceptualizing and Measuring Work Identity: South-African Perspectives and Findings
EditorsP.G.W. Jansen, G. Roodt
Place of PublicationDordrecht
ISBN (Print)9789401792417
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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