I’ve Got You Under My Skin: Relational Identity Work in Interactional Dynamics

Koster, Luzan and Ybema, Sierk and Jonkers, Irene R. (2018) I’ve Got You Under My Skin: Relational Identity Work in Interactional Dynamics. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2018 (1). p. 14694. ISSN 2151-6561

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2018.266


While identity is commonly believed to be shaped through relations, most organizational research into identity directs attention toward individuals’ constructions of a coherent en distinct sense of self and away from the situated construction of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in workplace interactions. This leaves unexplored the identity work that is done when relations itself are equivocal and changing. Building on a few studies that delved into the interpersonal and situational dimensions of identity work, we address the question how actors mutually position themselves vis-à-vis others in interactional dynamics. Our ethnographic analysis of everyday encounters between nurses, residents and relatives in a Dutch nursing home, shows how ‘relational identity work’ is performed through ‘self-other matching’ (mutually re-affirming), ‘self-other mismatching’ (mutually negating) and ‘shifting’ between different identity patterns. Subsequently, we analyze complications of relational identity work as a third actor enters the stage and mixes up the dynamics of workplace relations. Clarifying how organizational actors shape a flexible sense of self vis-à-vis multiple others, our exploration opens up the field of identity studies for analyzing interactional dynamics of workplace relations. In doing so, we explain how relational identity work between multiple actors impacts the formation of partnerships in- and around organizations when the configuration of relations is changing.

Item Type: Journal Article
Faculty: ARCHIVED Lord Ashcroft International Business School (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2019 13:48
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:10
URI: https://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704680

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