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Communication, Meaningful Work, and Personal Identity

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Allison Donnell

on 21 November 2013

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Transcript of Communication, Meaningful Work, and Personal Identity

Communication, Meaningful Work, and Personal Identity
Chapter 14
Meaningful Work

Work Identity

Work Identities

Intro to Chapter 14
Emily Wingate, Alexa Wheeler, and Allie Donnell
The question "What do you do?" is a strong indication of the degree to which our identities-our sense of who we are as valued people-are closely tied to how we earn a living
Work tied to our sense of identity and a meaningful life emerged with the Industrial Age
Meaningful Work
Is in the eye of the beholder
Symbolically created by
larger societal discourses that circulate through society in various media
6 Main Features
A sense of Agency
Enhances belonging or relationships
Creates opportunities for influence
Permits use and development of talents
Offers a sense of contribution to a greater good
Provides income adequate for a decent living
A Sense of Agency
Experience work as meaningful because they have control over the way their work is conducted
Experiencing a high degree of agency = 2 outcomes
sense of self is confirmed
feel directly connected to the work performed
Sense of agency is tied to task time vs. clock time
Degree of professionalism comes partially from the adherence to a task rather than a clock
Enhances Belonging or Relationships
Enhances our connection to others
Companies spend a great amount of time and money trying to get employees to feel connected to one another and to the company
Increasing amounts of work are being conducted virtually and from home
The main source of the connection to others "at work" is via the internet
Creates Opportunities for Influence
Work is meaningful if we are awarded opportunities to affect the organization we are working for
If we work day to day in jobs we know make little difference to the company or others, we are unlikely to feel that our work is meaningful
Opportunities for influence increase with one's rise up the corporate ladder
Permits Use and Development of Talents
Talents are put to good use and are allowed to flourish
Nature of today's post-Fordist economy; frequent changing of jobs
"Horizontal hypermobility": frequent, lateral changing of jobs that characterizes the "creative class" of workers who are more interested in "quality of place" than in specific jobs
Identification and long-term employment are less important than quality of experiences provided by a particular geographic location
Offers a Sense of Contribution to a Greater Good
Work contributes to making the world a better place, even if only in a small way
When does a job feel meaningful?
De Botton says "whenever it allows us to generate delight or reduce suffering in others"
De Botton's description shows how sense-making and meaning construction processes can frame work as contributing to a better world
Provides Income Adequate for a Decent Living
Most basic criterion for meaningful work
In today's society the power to consume is seen as a necessary prerequisite for happiness and a meaningful life
Work is seen as a means to an end and the idea of a "career" is not the defining feature of lives
What is the relationship between meaningful work, a meaningful life, and happiness?
Consider larger societal forces
Examine relationship between work and human identity
Historical Context in Managing Work Identity
The changes in work and society have led to our identities becoming much less stable
Reflexive Modernization - traditional stability-maintaining structures of class, family, and industrial forms of production have waned, placing greater pressure on people to create their own sense of stability
Solid/Heavy Modernity - history, capital, management, and labor are doomed to stay in one another's company for a long time
Liquid/Light Modernity - disengagement and elusiveness; people may move as they please throughout an organization
Short-term thinking and constant change results in "corrosion of character
Creating and Managing Work Identities
Corporations have shifted from behavioral forms of control to control processes that focus much more heavily on the "soul" of the individual employee
Ascribed Societies
people's roles are fixed and assigned with little to no room for movement
Achieved Societies
More fluid social structures
Identity, Identification, Disidentification
Elements of Identity
Thoroughly social
Always contingent and ongoing
Draws on various macro discourses that enable us to develop a self-identity that is meaningful and coherent
Involves struggle
Communication phenomenon
Three Processes of Identity
Managing Identity
Conformist Selves
Employees try to make themselves valued objects to authority
Spawns from the need for job security
Life is seen through a lens of advancement and success
The less stability there is in a job, the harder the employee will work
Ex: Wall Street Worker
Dramaturgical Selves
Occurs when employees feel highly visible, threatened, defensive, subordinated, and insecure
Actions that prove they are full-committed
Sometimes a way to resist dominant culture
ex: Overly gay employee
"Identity is a matter of claims, not character; personal, not personality; and presentation not self"
Resistant Selves
Employees attempt to resist managerial control
Undermine the meanings that company creates
Two techniques to keep identity
Role embracement = "onstage"
Role distancing = "backstage"
Some scholars encourage employees to be themselves
Some believe workers should not have a strong identification to the company
We Are the Millers

Managing Identities in the Workplace
Key aspect of the negotiation of organizational meaning
Conformists can actually resist corporate control
Resistant selves can actually maintain status quo
No Collar, No Life
More work all-around
Time famine:
never have enough time
ID's rooted in finding time
Ex: Google culture
Office Space
Full transcript