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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 4 McGraw (2001), a.k.a. “Dr. Phil” of The Oprah Winfrey Show, are building multi-million dollar industries helping people to find an “amazingly-clear map” to their “authentic selves.” Dr. Phil (McGraw, 2001) suggests that people have a “root core,” or as described on McGraw’s book flap, “the person you have always wanted to be.” This “authentic self” is contrasted from the “fictional self” or the “person people tell you are.” In like manner, references to “real” and “fake” selves litter everyday talk. It is not uncommon to hear people say things like, “That wasn’t really me,” “I was just being phony,” or “I can really be myself with you.” These popular discourses reify the idea that we actually have “real” and “fake” selves, and that these selves are largely dichotomous. We use the word “discourse” in the Foucauldian sense, to refer to an assemblage of knowledge that creates “truth effects” (Foucault, 1980b). Whether or not there “really” is a “real” or “fake” self is not the central issue, as “effects of truth are produced within discourses which in themselves are neither true nor false” (Foucault, 1980b, p. 198). Therefore, the truth effects created through these discourses are important not because there are necessarily “true” differences between “real” and “fake” selves, but because people talk and act as if there are. In other words, the power of these discourses “comes not from their ability to give us ‘real truth’, but from their claims to truth, their claims to know the world” (Newton, 1995, p. 7). In this paper we explore how notions of the “real” self and “fake” self are drawn upon in everyday organizational life. We do so by extending post-structuralist theoretical treatments of organizational identity (e.g., Deetz, 1992, 1995; Foucault, 1977, 1980b; DuGay, 1996, 1997; Miller & Rose, 1990, 1995; Newton, 1995) through a re-reading of critical-qualitative organization studies including Deetz (1998), Hochschild (1983, 1989, 1997), Tracy (2000, 2001), Trethewey (1999a, 2001) and others (Ashcraft, 1999; Ashcraft & Pacanowsky, 1996; Nadesan & Trethewey, 2000, Trethewey, 1997; Tracy & Tracy, 1998). Using notions of how power produces reality, identity and “rituals of truth” (Foucault, 1977, p. 194), we contend that everyday discourses create and maintain subject positions that serve to dichotomize the “real” self and the

Authors: Tracy, Sarah. and Trethewey, Angela.
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Real-SelfÅÆFake-Self Dichotomy
4
McGraw (2001), a.k.a. “Dr. Phil” of The Oprah Winfrey Show, are building multi-million dollar
industries helping people to find an “amazingly-clear map” to their “authentic selves.” Dr. Phil
(McGraw, 2001) suggests that people have a “root core,” or as described on McGraw’s book flap,
“the person you have always wanted to be.” This “authentic self” is contrasted from the “fictional
self” or the “person people tell you are.” In like manner, references to “real” and “fake” selves
litter everyday talk. It is not uncommon to hear people say things like, “That wasn’t really me,” “I
was just being phony,” or “I can really be myself with you.”
These popular discourses reify the idea that we actually have “real” and “fake” selves,
and that these selves are largely dichotomous. We use the word “discourse” in the Foucauldian
sense, to refer to an assemblage of knowledge that creates “truth effects” (Foucault, 1980b).
Whether or not there “really” is a “real” or “fake” self is not the central issue, as “effects of truth
are produced within discourses which in themselves are neither true nor false” (Foucault, 1980b,
p. 198). Therefore, the truth effects created through these discourses are important not because
there are necessarily “true” differences between “real” and “fake” selves, but because people talk
and act as if there are. In other words, the power of these discourses “comes not from their ability
to give us ‘real truth’, but from their claims to truth, their claims to know the world” (Newton,
1995, p. 7).
In this paper we explore how notions of the “real” self and “fake” self are drawn upon in
everyday organizational life. We do so by extending post-structuralist theoretical treatments of
organizational identity (e.g., Deetz, 1992, 1995; Foucault, 1977, 1980b; DuGay, 1996, 1997;
Miller & Rose, 1990, 1995; Newton, 1995) through a re-reading of critical-qualitative
organization studies including Deetz (1998), Hochschild (1983, 1989, 1997), Tracy (2000, 2001),
Trethewey (1999a, 2001) and others (Ashcraft, 1999; Ashcraft & Pacanowsky, 1996; Nadesan &
Trethewey, 2000, Trethewey, 1997; Tracy & Tracy, 1998). Using notions of how power produces
reality, identity and “rituals of truth” (Foucault, 1977, p. 194), we contend that everyday
discourses create and maintain subject positions that serve to dichotomize the “real” self and the


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