chapter  1
17 Pages


The study of identity has a long history in management and organization studies, with a background inter alia in the symbolic interactionism and studies of self-making of George Herbert Mead, the functionalism of Talcott Parsons, the development of role theory by Robert Merton, of dramaturgical sociology by Erving Goffman and Harold Garfinkel’s ethnomethodological studies of how social membership was achieved through talk. Focus on the organized dimensions of identity received particular emphasis during the 1980s with the rise of what has been called “corporate culturism”. Although some early contributions to this area recognized both the importance of identity as an explanatory concept as well as culture, and a handful acknowledged the importance of power and subjectivity in identity formation (Knights and Willmott 1985), these approaches tended to part company in the 1990s. “Organizational Identity” effectively replaced corporate culture as a focal topic and incorporated an outward-facing consideration of identity as brand, whilst consideration of issues of power and subjectivity became synonymous with a Foucauldian approach to such management issues as strategy and HRM (Hatch and Schultz 2002; Townley 1992). In sociology more broadly, in response to societal changes and increasing cultural diversity-globalization, the dawn of the e-society, the networked or virtual society and the information age, the mobility of labour and citizenshipidentity has now become a more nuanced core topic stretching across a variety of subfields.