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Fracturing the Real-Self<-->Fake-Self Dichotomy: Moving Toward Crystallized Organizational Discourses and Identities
Unformatted Document Text:  Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy 18 selves from blemish, workers oftentimes deny that work could construct the “real.” Ironically, this method of compartmentalization merely reinforces passivity, subordination and objectification. One consequence of this real self-fake self dichotomy, then, is that it glosses the ways that organizational norms and structures actually do construct the identities of employees caught in their web of control. While organizations often tell their employees that they do not have to change their “real” selves to be part of the job, employees do not necessarily distinguish between organizational mandates that they change their expressions with those that ask them to change their identities. Case in point, 911 call-takers regularly turn expression rules, such as “do not show any personal feelings” into feeling rules such as “don’t take it personal.” (Tracy & Tracy, 1998). Furthermore, employees face challenges in “turning off” their organizationally-prescribed selves when they go home. For instance, even correctional officers who tried to maintain a non- organizational “real” self and strived not to “let” the job change them did, in fact, admit to ways in which it had. Tracy (2001) cites one such officer who said: I’ve really gotten, not cold, but more callous to things. And I’m amazed that the things that offend other people don’t bother me much….Like, I saw a guy get hit by a [local grocery store] truck a couple months back. Killed him dead. Not even phased. My thinking is, the stupid ass is sitting out there drunker than a skunk thinking that’s the [city] bus, well, you know what? Dummy? Sorry to do that, you know? But I think things like that, they don’t bother me. (p. 294) Taken together, this evidence suggests that we need to be more critical of organizational norms that advocate that employees “just act” in a certain way. “Just acting” still constructs identity, and organizationally-prescribed identities not only affect work life, but also play a role in all aspects of life. Community, family, civic duty—all are implicated by organizational discourses.

Authors: Tracy, Sarah. and Trethewey, Angela.
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Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy
18
selves from blemish, workers oftentimes deny that work could construct the “real.” Ironically,
this method of compartmentalization merely reinforces passivity, subordination and
objectification. One consequence of this real self-fake self dichotomy, then, is that it glosses the
ways that organizational norms and structures actually do construct the identities of employees
caught in their web of control. While organizations often tell their employees that they do not
have to change their “real” selves to be part of the job, employees do not necessarily distinguish
between organizational mandates that they change their expressions with those that ask them to
change their identities. Case in point, 911 call-takers regularly turn expression rules, such as “do
not show any personal feelings” into feeling rules such as “don’t take it personal.” (Tracy &
Tracy, 1998).
Furthermore, employees face challenges in “turning off” their organizationally-prescribed
selves when they go home. For instance, even correctional officers who tried to maintain a non-
organizational “real” self and strived not to “let” the job change them did, in fact, admit to ways
in which it had. Tracy (2001) cites one such officer who said:
I’ve really gotten, not cold, but more callous to things. And I’m amazed that the things
that offend other people don’t bother me much….Like, I saw a guy get hit by a [local
grocery store] truck a couple months back. Killed him dead. Not even phased. My
thinking is, the stupid ass is sitting out there drunker than a skunk thinking that’s the
[city] bus, well, you know what? Dummy? Sorry to do that, you know? But I think things
like that, they don’t bother me. (p. 294)
Taken together, this evidence suggests that we need to be more critical of organizational norms
that advocate that employees “just act” in a certain way. “Just acting” still constructs identity, and
organizationally-prescribed identities not only affect work life, but also play a role in all aspects
of life. Community, family, civic duty—all are implicated by organizational discourses.


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