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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 19 Crystallizing New Understandings: Pushing Through the Dichotomy As analyzed herein, the dichotomy between the real self-fake self pervades popular understandings of identity. This perception is perpetuated in practices including emotion labor likely because organizational discourses of power, such as managerialism and entrepreneurialism, encourage and sustain such understandings of split identity. The dichotomy in turn produces and constrains individuals and organizations in several very specific ways. Namely, employees in powerful organizational positions tend to align their seemingly “real” self with the preferred organizational self, through processes including strategized subordination, creating perpetually- deferred potential selves and auto-dressage. Meanwhile, those in marginal positions strive to separate seemingly “real” selves from the organizationally-prescribed selves, and in doing so, become “good little copers.” Both paths indicate consent to the discourse of the real self-fake self dichotomy. Through such consent, the self becomes a primary product of the organization, a process that dramatically reduces many of the conflictual and complicated possibilities or alternatives for more participatory identity negotiation. The self, produced through consent rather than open negotiation processes, is viewed as a never being good enough—as always straining to reach a certain level of preferredness. What may have first been the means (e.g., becoming an organizationally-preferred self in order to attain ends of good pay and a good life) becomes the end in itself, and activities such as self-surveillance, strategized subordination, and coping begin to be experienced as autonomy and as one’s “real” self—a perfect means of organizational control. Communication scholars can encourage the development of alternate subject positions by continuing to analyze the texts, discourses, and practices that resist extant notions of the “real” self and by developing theories and an attendant language that articulates a non-dichotomous understanding of self. For instance, scholars might consider conducting empirical explorations of the ways in which organizational members embody, enact, and/or resist the “real” self. Such

Authors: Tracy, Sarah. and Trethewey, Angela.
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Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy
19
Crystallizing New Understandings: Pushing Through the Dichotomy
As analyzed herein, the dichotomy between the real self-fake self pervades popular
understandings of identity. This perception is perpetuated in practices including emotion labor
likely because organizational discourses of power, such as managerialism and entrepreneurialism,
encourage and sustain such understandings of split identity. The dichotomy in turn produces and
constrains individuals and organizations in several very specific ways. Namely, employees in
powerful organizational positions tend to align their seemingly “real” self with the preferred
organizational self, through processes including strategized subordination, creating perpetually-
deferred potential selves and auto-dressage. Meanwhile, those in marginal positions strive to
separate seemingly “real” selves from the organizationally-prescribed selves, and in doing so,
become “good little copers.”
Both paths indicate consent to the discourse of the real self-fake self dichotomy. Through
such consent, the self becomes a primary product of the organization, a process that dramatically
reduces many of the conflictual and complicated possibilities or alternatives for more
participatory identity negotiation. The self, produced through consent rather than open
negotiation processes, is viewed as a never being good enough—as always straining to reach a
certain level of preferredness. What may have first been the means (e.g., becoming an
organizationally-preferred self in order to attain ends of good pay and a good life) becomes the
end in itself, and activities such as self-surveillance, strategized subordination, and coping begin
to be experienced as autonomy and as one’s “real” self—a perfect means of organizational
control.
Communication scholars can encourage the development of alternate subject positions by
continuing to analyze the texts, discourses, and practices that resist extant notions of the “real”
self and by developing theories and an attendant language that articulates a non-dichotomous
understanding of self. For instance, scholars might consider conducting empirical explorations of
the ways in which organizational members embody, enact, and/or resist the “real” self. Such


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