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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 3 Fracturing the Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy: Moving Toward “Crystallized” Organizational Discourses and Identities In recent years, organizational scholars have provided a plethora of interesting, textured, and politicized theoretical treatments of identity. Organizational communication researchers, influenced by critical and post-structuralist scholars, have theorized the identity construction process as a site of struggle over individual and collective meanings. In other words, the self is seen as neither fixed nor essential, but, instead, as a product or an effect of competing, fragmentary, and contradictory discourses (see, for example, Ashcraft & Pacanowsky, 1996; Collinson, 1992; Deetz, 1992, 1998; Knights & Willmott, 1999; Kondo, 1992; Mumby, 1997b; Trethewey, 1999b, 2001; Weedon, 1997). These thinkers challenge the assumption of the humanist subject who possesses a “unique essence of human nature” that is fixed, coherent, and undergirded by rational consciousness (Weedon, 1997, p. 77). Rather, they assume that the individual’s subject position is determined by structures of discourse. Increasingly, it is in the context of work that individuals are subjected to and by powerful (often oppressive) discourses (e.g., Deetz, 1998; Tracy, 2000). Scholarship increasingly indicates that individuals form their identity as much or more based on organizational and workgroups than on home life (Hochschild, 1997) or traditional categories such as race, gender, age, ethnicity or nationality (Hogg & Terry, 2000). Yet, even these organizationally driven identities are not totalizing or omnipotent. “Within the power inequalities of organizations, identity is constantly open and available to be negotiation and re-negotiation, defined and redefined” (Collinson, 1992, p. 31). In short, there is ample theoretical work in the organizational literature that explains identity as anything but fixed, stable or “real.” Despite our theoretical efforts, however, a ‘politicized’ understanding of identity has not found broad support within the popular imagination. Specifically, myriad popular discourses and many organizational members reinforce and reproduce the notion that our “real” or “authentic” selves can be found, in ways that cohere or compete with organizational norms. Authors such as

Authors: Tracy, Sarah. and Trethewey, Angela.
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Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy
3
Fracturing the Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy:
Moving Toward “Crystallized” Organizational Discourses and Identities
In recent years, organizational scholars have provided a plethora of interesting, textured,
and politicized theoretical treatments of identity. Organizational communication researchers,
influenced by critical and post-structuralist scholars, have theorized the identity construction
process as a site of struggle over individual and collective meanings. In other words, the self is
seen as neither fixed nor essential, but, instead, as a product or an effect of competing,
fragmentary, and contradictory discourses (see, for example, Ashcraft & Pacanowsky, 1996;
Collinson, 1992; Deetz, 1992, 1998; Knights & Willmott, 1999; Kondo, 1992; Mumby, 1997b;
Trethewey, 1999b, 2001; Weedon, 1997). These thinkers challenge the assumption of the
humanist subject who possesses a “unique essence of human nature” that is fixed, coherent, and
undergirded by rational consciousness (Weedon, 1997, p. 77). Rather, they assume that the
individual’s subject position is determined by structures of discourse. Increasingly, it is in the
context of work that individuals are subjected to and by powerful (often oppressive) discourses
(e.g., Deetz, 1998; Tracy, 2000). Scholarship increasingly indicates that individuals form their
identity as much or more based on organizational and workgroups than on home life (Hochschild,
1997) or traditional categories such as race, gender, age, ethnicity or nationality (Hogg & Terry,
2000). Yet, even these organizationally driven identities are not totalizing or omnipotent. “Within
the power inequalities of organizations, identity is constantly open and available to be negotiation
and re-negotiation, defined and redefined” (Collinson, 1992, p. 31). In short, there is ample
theoretical work in the organizational literature that explains identity as anything but fixed, stable
or “real.”
Despite our theoretical efforts, however, a ‘politicized’ understanding of identity has not
found broad support within the popular imagination. Specifically, myriad popular discourses and
many organizational members reinforce and reproduce the notion that our “real” or “authentic”
selves can be found, in ways that cohere or compete with organizational norms. Authors such as


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