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Human Relations

http://hum.sagepub.com Self-doubters, strugglers, storytellers, surfers and others: Images of self-identities in organization studies
Mats Alvesson Human Relations 2010; 63; 193 originally published online Jan 19, 2010; DOI: 10.1177/0018726709350372 The online version of this article can be found at: http://hum.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/63/2/193

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human relations

Self-doubters, strugglers, storytellers, surfers and others: Images of self-identities in organization studies

human relations 63(2) 193217 The Author(s) 2010 Reprints and permission: http://www. sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0018726709350372 hum.sagepub.com

Mats Alvesson
University of Lund, Sweden and University of Queensland Business School, Australia

Abstract This article provides an overview of the key images of identity in organizations found in the research literature. Image refers to the overall idea or conceptualization, capturing how researchers relate to and shape a phenomenon. Seven images are suggested: self-doubters, strugglers, surfers, storytellers, strategists, stencils and soldiers. These refer to how the individual is metaphorically understood in terms of identity, that is, how the researcher (research text) captures the individual producing a sense of self.The article aims to facilitate orientation or encourage productive confusion within the field, encourage reflexivity and sharpen analytic choices through awareness of options for how to conceptualize self-identity constructions. Keywords construction, discourse, identity, organizational psychology, self

Introduction
Identity is a theme popular with scholars wanting to highlight individuals as well as collective phenomena. This article addresses the individual level in a social/organizational context and thus the interface between individual and organizational identity, with an emphasis on the self-identity aspect (Collinson, 2003; Watson, 2008). Kuhn (2006) defines identity as the conception of the self reflexively and discursively understood (p. 1340). Identity marks a separate area of interest from, for example, impression management or external social categorizations, although these are of course important for identity constructions (Jenkins, 2000). Such self-constructions are sometimes done through social
Corresponding author: Mats Alvesson, Department of Business Administration, School of Economics & Management, Lund University, PO Box 7080, Sweden. Email: mats.alvesson@fek.lu.se

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categories and organizational identification, so links to organizational identity certainly exist (Humphreys and Brown, 2002), but the latter theme is not directly addressed here. Many authors see issues of identity as potentially leading to significant theoretical and practical advances in the study of almost every aspect of organizational life (Haslam and Reicher, 2006: 135). As with many other fields, organization studies are characterized by a fair amount of fashion consciousness, which, in turn, drives a significant number of identity studies. The current popularity and, perhaps, the overconsumption of self and identity in social science (over used and under specified, Pratt, cited in Brown, 2006: 734, see also Alvesson et al., 2008a), as well as the slippery notion of identity means that it is not easy to get an overview of the area(s). Reviews rarely take the variety of theoretical perspectives and key reference points seriously. Many reviewers tend to structure the field in terms of two different (sometimes complementary) overall positions, providing fairly broad-brushed portraits. For example, authors refer to essentialist and anti-essentialist approaches (Cerulo, 1997), social cognition (emphasizing social schemas and information about self) and interactionism (focusing on symbolic meaning in interaction) (Howard, 2000). Others find it useful to divide the field into three major areas. Using Habermass (1972) framework of cognitive interests, Alvesson et al. (2008a) relate studies of social identity, identity work and identity regulation to technical, hermeneutic and emancipatory cognitive interests. Collinson (2003) identifies literature talking about conformist, dramaturgic and resistant selves. These reviews are helpful but still point at a fairly narrow set of options. There is more to be done in terms of encouraging sensitivity about alternative ways of approaching identity. It is common to be sceptical of conventional, Western thinking, which is said to have traditionally viewed human beings as unitary, coherent and autonomous individuals who are separate and separable from social relations and organizations (Collinson, 2003: 527). This is then, perhaps not unsurprisingly, followed by critique for essentialism and for a dualistic tendency artificially to separate individual from society, mind from body, rationality from emotion (Collinson, 2003: 527). It is difficult not to agree with a critique saying that something that is dualistic and that artificially separates individual from society is not so good. And there are still many authors who take a version of this traditional perspective. Acknowledging the multidimensional nature of the selfconcept, Leonard et al. (1999) propose three general sets of individuals identity attributes: traits, competencies and values. Albert et al. (2000) claim that identity means that one can interact effectively with other entities over the long run and a sense of identity serves as a rudder for navigating difficult waters (p. 13). Stets and Burke (2000) suggest that a complete theory of the self would consider both the role and the group bases of identity as well as identities based in the person that provide stability across groups, roles and situations (p. 234). But, as will be explored in this article, many if not most contemporary texts on identity go beyond a view of individuals as unitary, coherent and autonomous and embrace a position somewhere in between a traditional and a postmodernist or anti-essentialist view. In the spirit of the in-between position, it is common to acknowledge less stable aspects of identity, often with references to destabilizing faculties of dynamic social and economic conditions. In contemporary business life in particular, social contexts are frequently portrayed as unstable, ambiguous, and sometimes contradictory (Gioia et al.,

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2000; Gubrium and Holstein, 2001; Jackall, 1988; Sennett, 1998; Watson, 1994). This makes identity constructions precarious and calls for an emphasis on processual aspects of identity. The significance and depth of contemporary organizational changes are matters of dispute (Alvesson and Thompson, 2005; Grey, 2005; McSweeney, 2006; Thompson and Warhurst, 1998), but complexity and changes in contemporary social and organizational life make identity a more open project and thus something to take seriously. A variety of ideas about identity, reflecting differing attitudes towards the turbulent and fragmented nature of society, various views of the individual and which elements (discourses, social belongingness, existential themes) are crucial in identity constructions have sprung up in the literature. Although perspectives such as (Western) essentialism versus constructionism (postmodernism) indicate radically different views, there are a range of options, as we will see. We dont have to choose between a mainly fixed and a predominantly fluid view, nor between a sovereign self and a decentred one (Dunne, 1996).1 In addition, there is a wide set of stability as well as process conceptualizations. A more fine-tuned overview of the alternative positions is therefore called for. This article indicates the range of contemporary ideas on identity constructions in organizational and work contexts through the development of some concepts that may help us to both navigate this difficult terrain and to attempt clarification of alternative possibilities. The idea is to encourage self-critical distancing from and reflexivity about a favoured position and to facilitate choices in thinking about, and doing, empirical research on identity. The identification (or rather the construction) of a set of images of individuals identity constructions, as they appear in the literature, is helpful. I follow Morgans (1980, 1997) successful and thought-provoking exercise of bringing forward the images (root metaphors) behind the explicit argumentation and analysis of identity. I am using the slightly broader and looser concept of image here, rather than the similar, but somewhat more specific, idea of root metaphor. These images capture key elements in the gestalt and act as starting points in thinking about the subject matter. The images are related to, but are not the same as, theoretical perspectives and lines of reasoning. An image can be linked to various theories. This means that approaching a theoretical perspective by way of different images allows one to use that theoretical perspective in different ways, although not all images and theories can be linked. The article supplements other overviews that emphasize theoretical traditions and definitions through suggesting a set of images of the subject matter. The ambition is to inspire the field to take alternatives into more serious consideration and to widen the imagination in terms of approaching identity issues in organization studies. A more playful attitude is thus encouraged.

On method: Modesty, irony and reflexivity


Issues around subjectivity including identity are very difficult to describe and interpret. As Dunne (1996) puts it, the self lacks the substantiality and discreteness of an object which is amenable to direct description or explanation (p. 143). The theoretical framework and the use of a particular vocabulary construct the subject matter, but it would be unwise to reduce all empirical phenomena to just being a matter of the employment of a specific framework and discourse. When studying non-discrete and nonsubstantial phenomena such as subjectivity, it is particularly important to develop ideas

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and ways of thinking that reduce the inclination to impose a vocabulary and order onto the studied subjectivities. We cannot completely avoid such impositions and thus exercise of power when developing knowledge (Foucault, 1980), also when trying to order a field. This will be so whether we have chosen to normalize uncertainty and fluidity or coherence and direction. Ideas surrounding reflexivity become important here (Alvesson and Skldberg, 2009; Alvesson et al., 2008b). Through systematically considering alternative viewpoints and opening up tensions, we can create some safety mechanisms in the research process, which guard against one-dimensional and premature construction work. A typology is not without mixed blessings, but makes it easier to remember and consider alternative reference points for thinking. Awareness that there may exist another vocabulary, one that is as good as or even better than the vocabulary that is actually in use, in terms of saying something interesting about the subject matter, is an important part of this process (Rorty, 1989). The production of a new vocabulary and the confrontation of various alternative concepts may thus serve to reinforce an element of irony and encourage its more explicit use in identity studies. This article offers seven images of identity salient in the organization studies literature. A key consideration in this kind of work is the meaningfulness and manageability of a set of images. As discussed above, identity reviews (e.g. Cerulo, 1997; Collinson, 2003; Howard, 2000; Markus and Wurf, 1987) only point at two or three theoretical streams, which is limited and discourages a broader consideration of the variety of images to consider. The seven images outlined here reflect a desire to facilitate further distinctions and to suggest new options for studying identity. This article is based on careful readings of the self-identity literature (in organization studies over the years, including a large proportion of the articles on self-identity recently published in leading organization studies journals (Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Human Relations, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Studies, Organization) and also texts frequently referred to in these. This article is, however, concerned with offering ideas about images of identity, not about the frequencies of which such are expressed. The intention is not to vacuum-clean the literature for all possible images, but rather to indicate a spectrum of salient ones, thus allowing an opening up for more analytical options. The idea is to get a good understanding of what researchers, at a deeper level, seem to mean by identity. What basic images are used? Of most interest here are texts expressing a strong conceptualization and/or cases conveying a clear overall idea of how to make sense of that case. The view on identity then should include more than a general definition (the answer to the question who am I?) and include a distinct idea that differentiates the text from many others also addressing identity. Methodologically, there is interplay between emergent ideas, attentions and inspiration from additional readings and ideas. There is a hermeneutic circle between a gradually developed pre-understanding informing text readings and the efforts to interpret the underlying ideas and meanings of texts in terms of the underlying image informing studies (Alvesson and Skldberg, 2009). There are two moves here. The first methodological move is to get an overall structure or framework for making comparisons. Two broad, key dimensions were identified. One concerns what is typically constructed as the traditional Western view and efforts to negate it. The traditional position views identity as

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robust, integrated and a clear reference and starting point for how individuals can orientate themselves in life. The opposite position assumes a much more uncertain, precarious and fluid kind of subjective reference point. The positions appear to reflect a crucial, paradigm-like kind of distinction, salient in many writings comparing modernist (essentialist) and post-modernist (constructionist) understandings (Cerulo, 1997; Howard, 2000; Rosenau, 1992; Sarup, 1988; Shotter and Gergen, 1989). This key dimension is here seen as including a variety of possible views and not just two opposite fixed points. My other key dimension is the degree of agency the individual being active and guided by both meaning and goals, over which there is at least an element of control. This is a classic key theme in social science. Humanistic researchers tend to give priority to meaning and intention and view the individual as a meaning-maker. They may do this through narratives or strategies for developing identity (e.g. Giddens, 1991; Ibarra, 1999; Pratt et al., 2006). Non-humanists Marxists, structuralists, behaviourists, discursivists while disagreeing in other aspects, all locate powers creating subjectivity primarily outside the individual, in structures, the situation or the Discourse (e.g. Ely and Padavic, 2007; Foucault, 1977, 1980; Knights and Morgan, 1991; Townley, 1993). This key dimension of agency has in various ways been expressed in different kinds of literatures (e.g. Burrell and Morgan, 1979) and is an important part of my (and most other contemporaries) pre-understanding. Readings of the identity literature have confirmed the relevance and significance of this dimension. I chose these two broad dimensions, expressed as key dimensions in a considerable amount of the literature, as a loose framework for identifying positions in the field. The second methodological move transcends this loose two-dimensional framework and tries to identify/ construct (as always it is a mix of input from what is out there, i.e. in texts, and the invention of something) something distinct in various texts about how the authors try to capture individuals in identity terms. Here, the idea is to go beyond the broad similarities following from the use of the key dimensions and find more distinct and unique key themes in the texts. Having identified/constructed a theme storytelling, existential anxiety, social identification, etc. the idea is to hold on to its distinctiveness without trying to reduce them to being fully grasped by the twodimensional framework (see Figure 1, placed later in the article). These two moves then develop a broad terrain that offers some degree of overview, but also allows for sensitivity to the unique features of images. One criterion for the proposal of a specific image is that there should be several studies where it seems to be expressed. Equally important is that an image captures an important orientation in contemporary identity research in organization studies. A third consideration concerns the overall combination of aspects covered: the selected set of images should offer a good framework, indicating a set of alternative ways of conceptualizing identity. As is probably common in studies, this article is not an outcome of either deductive or inductive work. It is neither based on the development and use of a strict framework which acts as a net for capturing the various big fish in the pond of identity studies. Nor does it rely on a detailed (grounded theory-like) coding of various pieces of texts in the literature. As with most studies, my approach is a complex mix of inputs and preunderstandings, where readings and developed understandings over the years guide the interpretation of the texts addressed.

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Given the constructed, not to say artificial, nature of typologies, paradigm distinctions, borders between positions and the arbitrariness of the labels put on whatever position one wants to represent or propose (or invent), there are good reasons to remind oneself and the reader that what is suggested here is not the only way of making sense of the field. As Locke and Golden-Biddle (1997) point out, how we integrate and differentiate earlier research in literature reviews is as much a matter of rhetorical moves as objective mappings. The purpose of this article is to give a hopefully creative and illuminative overview of some options in addressing identity constructions. There is a mapping element involved here, but it is by necessity rough and rather than be too worried about whether everything important out there (other texts) is mirrored well in here (in this text), it is perhaps more important to consider the productive-functional aspects of the re-presentations of what people may be up to in their constructions of others constructions of their selves. I will now attend to the sets of images of identities, expressed in metaphorical ways, referring specifically to the theoretical understandings of the key characteristics of individuals in terms of identity constructions. These are self-doubters, strugglers, surfers, storytellers, strategists, stencils and soldiers (see Table 1 for a summary of the images).

Seven images on identity Self-doubters: Insecurity as the key element of existence and social relations
Many contemporary researchers of identity in work and organizations emphasize insecurity and anxiety as key elements of experience. The idea is that human existence is characterized by the uncertainties that follow from a dependence on social relations, but that social trends and contemporary society add heavily to this uncertainty. Collinson (2003), for instance, argues that there is a broad-sweeping shift from ascriptions to achievement leading to identities becoming more open and potentially allowing greater freedom and more choices, but also resulting in increasing precarious, insecure and uncertain subjectivities (p. 530). Insecurity thus seems to be the key element around which subjectivity and identity is being formed and reshaped. Self-doubter therefore refers to the researchers image of the identity constructions quality as ultimately shaky. Knights and Willmott (1989, 1999) claim that insecurity arises from the impossibility of controlling the conditions that support a stable sense of identity (1999: 19). Not even wealth, status and power will do the trick those having accumulated this are among the most insecure of all, simply because they have most to lose. Insecurity is seen as an existential condition. Authors informed by a self-doubter image assume that there is an irreducible ambiguity at the heart of identity construction and argue that individuals attachment to a particular sense of self can reinforce insecurities. In their analyses, insecurity is privileged and appears, at the end of the day, to be the basic element. Efforts to cope with it often lead to reinforced insecurity. Drawing upon the psychoanalyst Lacan, Roberts (2005) points to the impossibility of self-identity as a reflexively constituted sense of self. The perpetual anxiety is here traced to the socially constructed, and therefore unstable, character of any identification (p. 632). Collinson (2003) also argues that whatever people do, they tend to

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Table 1. An overview of the seven images Theory Political theory, existentialism Critical management studies Conflicting demands and challenges Sveningsson and Alvesson (2003) Thomas and Davies (2005) Deetz (1992) Weedon (1987) Multitude of social relations, existential insecurity Collinson (2003) Knights and Willmott (1989) Driver, challenge Examples

Alvesson

Image

Key characteristics

Self-doubter

Trying to cope with a high level of uncertainty & insecurity

Struggler

Dealing with contradictions and conflicts between self-view and external demands and conditions Poststructuralism, discourse analysis Multitude of discourses driving the individual between different subject positions Want to create order and direction in life Being true to self versus overadaptation

Surfer

Responding to a complex and multiple-discursive world leading to fragmentation and fluidity Narrative theory

Storyteller

Creation of meaning through crafting a personal narrative of oneself Socialization, career theory, conflict theory

Giddens (1991) Sims (2003) Ibarra (1999) Dahler-Larsen (1997)

Strategist

Crafting a functional identity, producing a synthesis between authenticity and organizational/ professional adaptation Foucauldian power theory, institutional theory Social identity theory

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Stencil

Shaping of the individual through a knowledge/power regime creating a normalized subject

Exposure to contemporary forms of (disciplinary) power Pressure and want to subordinate oneself to a greater whole; affiliation

Knights and Morgan (1991) Townley (1993) Ashforth and Mael (1989), Dutton et al. (1994)

Soldier

Responding to the availability of (attractive) social categories used for social and organizational identification

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reinforce insecurity. This is the case if they put a lot of energy into, for example, a specific gender identity:
[P]reoccupation with securing clearly defined and coherent gender identities may further reinforce, rather than resolve, the very insecurity these strategies were intended to overcome. (Collinson, 2003: 533)

This is also the case with the simultaneous occupation of many subjective positions: the multiple nature of selves can thus reinforce ambiguity and insecurity (p. 534). Sennett (1998) also emphasizes insecurity, but sees this as directly contingent upon economic and social changes creating a working life, where flexibility is the key element. Here the constant pressure on individuals to adapt and be responsive means that the social preconditions for building character and identity are not there anymore and consequently people experience difficulties finding meaning and direction in life. Self-doubt becomes more explicit. The social roots are the basic elements, which is different from Knights and Willmott who emphasize social conditions that mainly reinforce the strong existential insecurity associated with human nature per se. For these authors, issues around identity are very much a matter of dealing with insecurity. At best, according to Knights and Willmott, this can be tolerated. Given the predominance of insecurity, and its related quality anxiety, identity projects will always (or normally) be experiences of doubt, perhaps lurking beneath the surface. The individual engaged in identity constructions can thus be conceptualized as a self-doubter riddled by the unpleasant and pervasive experiences of insecurity and anxiety. The self-doubter image leads to a quite sad story of the individual, with a fairly strong pessimism around the options for the creation of security and satisfaction in working life. The strong forces of existential worries and the operations of contemporary business under flexible capitalism threaten to undermine any identity-securing project.

Strugglers: Identity as a possible accomplishment or an uphill battle


While self-doubters refer to the idea of an individual experiencing a difficult and somewhat depressive situation, the alternative image of a struggler suggests a somewhat more positive or optimistic version of individuals engaged in constructing a view of them selves. The view of the identity constructer relates to more active efforts of oneself fighting through a jungle of contradictions and messiness in the pursuit of a sense of self. Insecurity and anxiety may be part of the picture, but not necessarily the defining features and not necessarily the qualities that, at the end of the day, remain. Dealing with insecurity is, according to the struggle view, not an uphill battle all the time. There are different theoretical versions of this image, from psychoanalytical to poststructuralist approaches. Some psychoanalytically oriented authors take a struggle perspective, particularly when being more ego- and self-oriented than orthodox. Freudians Brown and Starkey (2000: 111)), for example, take seriously the anxieties and the fear of confronting the inevitable gap between the desire for a perfect self and the profound disappointment of never being able to realize this desire. They also consider the defensive mechanisms used to cope with these issues, along with the possibility through critical self-reflexivity

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and dialogue, identity can be shaped and reshaped in a more integrated, wise and positive sense. Coping with a changing reality therefore means understanding and militating against ego defences such as denial and rationalization, while at the same time resisting the regressive retreat from facing changes and instead dealing with the implications for self-identity. Other authors are more interested in resistance to discourses, for example, in the imposition of forms of management as a key element in struggles (e.g. Thomas and Davies, 2005) or in how people try to sustain a positive and authentic sense of self in a context of contradictory demands (Sveningsson and Alvesson, 2003; Watson, 2008). Ideas about the difficulty of identity struggles also vary; for some researchers it is (typically) fairly light (e.g. Ibarra, 1999; Kreiner et al., 2006), for others it is much harder and may involve self-alienation (Costas and Fleming, 2009). In the former case, the struggler image may be less salient (useful) than in the latter. A basic conflict, a dilemma, or contradictory forces operating on the subject are key characteristics of the situation in which the identity construction work takes place. The concept of identity work refers to people being engaged in forming, repairing, maintaining, strengthening or revising the constructions that are productive of a sense of coherence and distinctiveness. Identity work may, in complex and fragmented contexts, either be more or less ongoing or be a theme of engagement during crises or transitions. More generally, specific events, encounters, transitions, surprises, as well as more constant strains, all serve to heighten awareness of the constructed quality of self-identity and to compel more concentrated identity work. Conscious identity work is thus grounded in at least a minimal amount of self-doubt and self-openness, typically contingent upon a mix of psychological-existential worry and the scepticism or inconsistencies faced in encounters with others or with our images of them (Alvesson and Willmott, 2002). The idea of identity work is not necessarily confined to the struggle view, it can also be used in relation to the self-doubter and storyteller images, but is perhaps often most relevant to the former framing of identity. Researchers emphasizing identity as struggle assume that there are contradictions, frustrations and forces acting upon, and sometimes undermining, a self-identity, but also that the individual, backed up by or being subjected to various resources sometimes can produce and sustain a self-image, neither independent of, nor totally victimized by these forces. Compared with the self-doubter image, alignment is, in principle, possible. Socially induced contradictions rather than existential anxieties are the key driving force. Compared with many of the other conceptualizations, the individual as a struggler for self-identity has an element of mild heroism, even though the outcome can be tragic (see e.g. Sveningsson and Alvesson, 2003). The struggle metaphor becomes perhaps more interesting and offers a sharp reference point when it indicates a social reality at odds with ones self-view, where the individual with skills, effort and luck may succeed in her efforts to construct a positive identity. From a poststructuralist view this places too much emphasis on the heroic individual, reflecting Western conventional thinking. From another perspective it may also overemphasize the complexity and contradictory nature of the social world. Perhaps the contemporary world offers trajectories and means for identity constructions as often as, or more often than, it raises obstacles to these.

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Surfers: Identity as temporal positions


A third image also, similar to the self-doubter, draws attention to the radical openness of the world, but this is not framed primarily in terms of insecurity and struggle, and even less so in terms of anxiety. These existentialist characteristics of the subject are decried as essentialist, or assuming some kind of (or hope for a) core self with some stable key characteristics. The surfer image is often based on poststructuralist ideas, and so the subject is viewed as being constituted by discourse. Unstable language implies unstable meanings and an unstable, decentred human subject, a subject who is multi-dimensional and without centre or hierarchical integration. It would give us a process and a paradox, but never a beginning or an end (Sampson, 1989: 15). In this view, the self is as much out there in the language and recipes being circulated around in mass media as inside the individual. Poststructuralism rejects the notion of the autonomous, self-determining individual with a secure unitary identity as the centre of the social universe. Although many other traditions have done so also (for example, behaviourists, structuralists, role theorists and to some extent psychoanalysts), poststructuralist authors have pushed this point strongly and in a sophisticated manner (Deetz, 1992; Rosenau, 1992). Sometimes this is backed up by postmodernist ideas about radical social changes disrupting a coherent or stable sense of self (Shotter and Gergen, 1989). As society becomes more fragmented and hyper-real or virtual (discourse and image become disconnected from any world reference, images reference other images) the identitystabilizing forces are lost. Gubrium and Holstein (2001), for example, talk about the almost dizzying array of institutions comprising the postmodern environment, a world where selves are regularly decentered from their inner recesses and recentered in institutional life (p. 2). Based on this many authors have emphasized the role of language and discourse in constituting an individual subject that does not exist outside language, as . . . identity is in flux, in a permanent state of becoming as various social and linguistic constructs (or discourses) vie with another for supremacy (Thomas and Linstead, 2002: 75). Within this framework identity is not necessarily the most appropriate term, but many authors do use it. One compromise is to talk about identity, signalling the deviation from most standard meanings. Identity is seen as process, as an element in the flow of events. Rather than to try to revise, integrate and reproduce identity, the important thing is to let go and open up engage in process subjectivity (Weedon, 1987), even self-destruction (Roberts, 2005). Process ideas are also expressed by people not inspired by poststructuralism. Ashforth and Mael (1989), following social identity theory, claim that:
Individuals have multiple, loosely coupled identities, and inherent conflicts between their demands are typically not resolved by cognitively integrating the identities, but by ordering, separating, or buffering them. This compartmentalization of identities suggests the possibility of double standards, apparent hypocrisy and selective forgetting. (p. 154)

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Compared with the other images mentioned, identity is put in motion without much friction; it flows with the various forces and contingencies acting upon it. Pain and resistance are less salient elements here, as the self typically or at least ideally is adaptable and implicated by the discourses and varieties of social identities to which it is compliant. The question is whether individuals are that fluid and sensitive to the discourses calling upon them and, seemingly, triggering shifting subjectivities without much inertia. Researchers guided by the surfer image may exaggerate the plasticity of humans (Cohen, 1994) and neglect the possibility that life history makes smooth adaptation difficult (Handley et al., 2006).

Storytellers: A narrative self identity as stabilizer


Another image circles around a narrative self-identity that is associated with personal history and orientations outside the immediate work context, at least as conventionally defined. McAdams (1996) talks about personal myth, a kind of life story as a central dimension in identity and something that potentially integrates the diversity of role expectations common in modern life. It goes beyond role presentations ( la Goffman) and discourse-driven subjectivity ( la poststructuralism) and points to a more integrated and meaningfully created identity. Following Giddens (1991), self-identity is then conceptualized as a reflexively organized narrative, derived from participation in competing discourses and various experiences, which is productive of a degree of existential continuity and security. Self-identity is not a distinctive trait, or even a collection of traits, possessed by the individual. It is the self as reflexively understood by the person . . . self-identity is continuity (across time and space) as interpreted reflexively by the agent (p. 53). Self-identity is assembled out of cultural raw material: language, symbols, sets of meanings, values, etc. These are derived from countless numbers of interactions with others and exposure to messages produced and distributed by agencies (schools, mass media), as well as early life experiences and unconscious processes, all of which lead to a coherent and vivifying life story (which) provides the modern adult with that quality of selfhood that goes by the name of identity (McAdams, 1996: 299). Such life stories or narratives have the capacity to integrate the individuals reconstructed past, perceived present, and anticipated future, rendering a life-in-time sensible in terms of beginnings, middles and endings (p. 298). The impression is that this can be accomplished in a fairly autonomous way. Depending on their capacities, individuals succeed or fail to create a narrative that gives meaning and orientation in life. There are two major problems here. First, the capacity of individuals to produce a coherent and vivifying life story integrating experiences possibly pointing in diverse directions. Second is whether a narrative, should one be created, has sufficient power to accomplish a strong sense of continuity and security. Some critics doubt the possibility of crafting and maintaining a credible self-narrative. Roberts (2005) claims that such self-absorption is repeatedly problematized by the objectifications of self by others (p. 637). Sims (2003) remarks that even though we create stories about our selves and our situations, and try to live out some of them, these stories may be challenged, denied or simply ignored by others. Perhaps it is more common with a

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plurality of diverse, even contradictory and disrupted life stories rather than a master one creating temporal coherence? An emphasis on sets of organizational discourses used for identity constructions would indicate this (Brown, 2006; Kuhn, 2006). This critique would then point to an image of the identity constructor as a struggler, or possibly as a self-doubter, rather than a storyteller (or a combination of these images). This is particularly true, Sims (2003) argues, for middle managers who are compelled to use a voice to make sense for others, but that sense may be carelessly destroyed or ignored by your superiors, while being seen as self-serving and perhaps weak witted by your subordinates (p. 1209) (see Beech, 2008, for an illustration). Sometimes the emphasis on identity as narrative means a strong emphasis on process: for example, Czarniawska-Joerges (1994) talks about identity construction as a process of narration where both the narrator and the audience formulate, edit, applaud, and refuse various elements of the ever-produced narrative (p. 198). Often the idea of identity as storytelling refers to a more established and lasting story. Critics thus want to open up this perspective to take social interactions seriously, but at the core of most illustrations of the storytelling view lies the idea that the individual, under normal conditions, is the major author of the story of his or her life and that the interventions of others are written into this narrative. As we will see later, the images proposed here are not mutually exclusive, as the theme of struggle or fairly frictionless shifts in identity can be ingredients in a story. Also, the images addressed below can be incorporated and subsequently combined with a storyteller metaphor. However, as a key image, storyteller emphasizes how the individual narrates the situations, while the struggle and surfer metaphors emphasize a broader set of forces and experiences at play, rather than reducing them to episodes or sources of inspiration for storytelling. In addition, most storytelling about identity does not include any notion about (ongoing) struggle or surfing. The storytelling image typically emphasizes a somewhat romantic view of the individual as being fairly integrated and equipped with creativity and language skills, almost like an artist. However, there are variations in how this image is used, as some authors point to polyphony and touch upon issues of domination and power, putting their imprints on the stories being produced (Brown, 2006; Humphries and Brown, 2002). The current popularity of the narrative approach means that it is used in all sorts of, and sometimes rather vague ways. Story easily refers to everything and nothing. When applied in identity studies, it sometimes then does not reduce as much as reinforce the tendency to use identity in an indistinct way.

Strategists: Crafting a functional identity


Another image of the individual in the context of identity construction suggests a subject guided by interests and an ability to shape identity in accordance with an objective. An individual might be eager to start a business or make a career as an executive, that might engage in qualification acts, impression management, role-seeking and that might do other things that serve to facilitate a specific identity. This goal or future-state oriented project may also be a part of a collective enterprise. One way of capturing this is to think about the individual as a strategist in relation to identity constructions.

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Ibarra (1999), in a study of how young professionals develop their identities during socialization, suggests that this is accomplished through three basic tasks: observing role models, experimenting with provisional selves and evaluating results against internal and external standards. People observe and build a repertoire of possible selves (Markus and Nurius, 1986), which then are objects or themes of experimenting, for example, through imitation of role models or true-to-self strategies. They then assess and modify possible selves. This carving out of selves for work and career purposes means that, at least to a degree, the entire process is active and strategic.
By rehearsing these clumsy, often ineffective, sometimes inauthentic selves, they learned more about the limitations and potential of their repertoires and thus began to make decisions about what elements to keep, refine, reject, or continue to search for. (p. 779)

As people encounter new stages early identities need to be re-crafted or revised with experience, requiring a repertoire of resources from which they can construct diverse self-presentation strategies (p. 783). Experiences of control and hope are part of the identity strategy this indicates a semi-rational crafting process that is often fairly successful. Morgan Roberts (2005), for example, portrays professionals engaged in impression management as reducing discrepancies between images and identities. The identity strategy may, of course, fail or at least not be totally successful, for example, if there is a shortage of good role models or demands call for inauthentic selves and then the self-doubter or struggler images would in fact serve better in capturing any seriously problematic efforts. A different take on the identity subject as a strategist idea takes collective themes more into account and places strategy in a political context. Individual and collective identities are then intertwined in order to mobilize people for a social project. DahlerLarsen (1997) observed shifting identities in a study of Danish flight attendants on strike in SAS (a Scandinavian airline firm). He found that people moved between seeing themselves as flight attendants, SAS members, veterans within the firm and Danes. These shifts enabled them to create mobilization at various stages and in different situations. This links with the surfer image, but is much more instrumental and strategic in nature. It also places greater emphasis on how these people defined and redefined themselves on the basis of politics and interests, rather than how other forces operated on them. Examples of authors using the strategist-image include Koot (1997) who draws attention to how ethnic identity can be mobilized in order to create competition and commitment, and Humphries and Browns (2002) study of efforts to redefine organizational and professional identities in a UK polytechnic trying to recreate itself as a forthcoming university. The strategy image emphasizes the interest-driven, intentional aspects of identity. The strategist can be part of either more personal projects (career, transitions, aspirations) or political and conflict-laden contexts. It does not necessarily imply rationality or the subject being in control, as forces may operate on the subject being constructed in a way that then informs the further construction efforts of a more strategic character. Career ideologies may, for example, operate on individuals trying to strategize themselves in a career-facilitating way (Grey, 1994). Conscious and active choices on the crafting of

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identity for performativity based on objectives and interests are still seen as key aspects of identity construction. The use of this image tends to emphasize the individual as a master of identity constructions, which appears to exaggerate the level of control and the instrumentality involved. Sometimes the view of identity becomes a bit shallow, fairly easily adjusted to preferences and linked to a favoured image (e.g. Morgan Roberts, 2005). Some of the writings drawing upon this image come close to self-help manuals or career advising reports, while others show more similarities with political drama emphasizing how identity is invoked in political struggles.

Stencils: Identity bearing the imprints of discourse at work


A somewhat different take on identity, points to there being a standard or a template which offers strong clues affecting how identity is constructed. The individual is assumed to subordinate him- or herself to this. Most uses of this image are inspired by Foucault. But also institutional theory emphasizing imitations and standardization tendencies and critical theory pointing at the one-dimensionality associated with cultural domination (Marcuse, 1964) are relevant here. Alternative terms for this image could be subjectified or scripted, but I refer to this as the stencil image. The subject copies (or is copied by) a template in the identity construction. As with the surfers, identity can here be used with quotation marks. This image views the subject as mainly an effect of the Discourse (Alvesson and Karreman, 2000) operating on it. It is not so much the individual being actively involved in the construction of him- or herself as it is external powers doing this work. Foucauldians and (other kinds of) poststructuralists reject the notion of the autonomous, self-determining individual with a secure, unitary identity as the centre of the social universe. Discourses produce subject positions not that different from roles (but determined by institutionalized language rather than norms and expectations) which individuals are located in (locate themselves in). There is some overlap with the surfer image, which is also inspired by poststructuralism, although by more language-focused versions than Foucaults. While the surfer image means an emphasis on the lightness of a multiple and fluid self, the stencil view assumes a more heavy and fixed self-identity. This is typically constituted and held in place by a single, dominant Discourse that essentially sets up an ideal self for subjects to replicate, mainly as an effect of the forces operating on them. While the surfer identity/identities is (are) fluid and, in a sense, free or at least mobile, the stencil identity is productively repressed and put in place. One of the most influential terms within this framework has been Foucaults (1977) concept of discipline. Training, work routines, appraisal systems, self-surveillance, and experts are all exercising discipline in that they provide resources for normalization.
Through their operations, modern subjects are constituted whose sense of self-identity is invested in the reproduction of these practices not simply to achieve material rewards or avoid punishment but to gain and confirm a (self-disciplining) sense of their own normality as sovereign subjects. (Willmott, 1994: 106)

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Normative experts, in particular, and the knowledge they create or that creates (subjectifies) them provide a cover for the arbitrary and dominating discursive practices and facilitate normalization (Hollway, 1984, 1991). Collinson (2003) refers to this position as assuming conformist selves, an outcome of regulatory practices. Arguably, identity regulation is an important aspect of contemporary organizational control (Alvesson and Willmott, 2002). Grey (1994), for example, explores how career structures and ambitions can serve to structure and constrain how people define their selves including their future selves along predictable and adaptable trajectories. Covaleski et al. (1998) highlight the role of managerial techniques like mentoring and MBO in this regard. Although Foucauldians, particularly in organization studies, frequently mention and sometimes seem to exaggerate resistance (see Fleming and Spicer, 2003, for a critical discussion), the key idea is that external powers are given priority in identity-defining projects. There is no individual before Discourse works upon him or her. Sceptics raise doubts about whether Discourse has such a strong impact. That subjects are done to rather than doing identity is not self-evident (Newton, 1998: 428). Critics also point out that a lot of peoples experiences at work are unmanaged and related to fantasies (Gabriel, 1995). Arguably, quite a lot of identity constructions take place outside an axis of (institutionalized) Discourse and resistance to it. The stencil image paints a somewhat gloomy picture of identity, being tightly intertwined with and a product of the operations of power offering a hard-to-resist template. For the self-doubter image researcher, however, the nightmare is produced by the uncertainty and openness of the social world undermining identity security. In contrast, it is the fixation and closure that represents the force of darkness for the stencil-focused scholar.

Soldiers: Identification with social units


Another image emphasizes how social categories are central for self-definition. Belongingness to a social group or an organization is said to do the trick. It calls, however, for a high level of compliance and a willingness to refrain from strong claims about individual unicity. In this sense it is similar to the stencil view. What may be referred to as the soldier image is salient in many writings within the field of social identity theory (SIT) (Haslam, 2004; Haslam and Reicher, 2006; Turner, 1984). As mentioned in the section on surfers, parts of this stream emphasize process and situational variation of social identities contingent upon the presence of an outgroup making the ingroup, and the associated social identity, salient and an important source of identification. But most SIT-inspired work in organization studies has focused on more static forms of identification rather than on processes of identifying. Ashforth and Mael (1989) define social identification as the perception of oneness with or belongingness to some human aggregate (p. 135). The interest here is in the practices and processes that are involved in aligning individual and organizational values (Pratt, 2000: 457). This implicates a fairly low degree of insistence on personal uniqueness. Instead, the unit that one belongs to provides the source of identity (Brickson, 2000). A key element here is depersonalization, or seeing the self as an embodiment of the in-group prototype (Stets and Burke, 2000: 231). Many students of organization view organizational identification as significant:

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When a persons self-concept contains the same attributes as those in the perceived organizational identity, we define the cognitive connection as organizational identification. Organizational identification is the degree to which a member defines him- or herself by the same attributes that he or she believes define the organization. (Dutton et al., 1994: 239)

Dutton et al. argue that the perceived organizational identity a members beliefs about the distinctive, central, and enduring attributes of the organization can serve as a powerful image influencing the degree to which the member identifies with the organization (p. 244). Advocates of the loyal soldier view of identity share with the proponents of the stencil image an emphasis on the conformist and adaptable nature of identity constructions in organizations although the former talk about the degree of identification and the latter give some space for resistance but they differ not least on the sources of identity and the consequences. The soldier image sees depersonalization and overlap between perceived selves and organizations as key points and emphasizes mainly positive features (Dutton et al., 1994; Elsbach, 1999). In opposition to the loyal soldier position of perceived harmony between self-view and organizational identity, the stencil image means a focus on power and, although its productive qualities are recognized, the tone is gloomy and critical. A critique of the organizational identification literature is that it tends to privilege the organization as a source of identity and it operates with questionable assumptions about individuals perceiving themselves, and their organizations, in similar and comparable ways. One may question whether the typical individual, as for example Dutton et al. assume, really defines him or herself by the same attributes that he or she believes define the organization (Alvesson, 2003; Dahler-Larsen, 1997). The soldier image can, however, also be used to illuminate occupational identities and other forms of social identification. Some studies indicate that the use of collective categories and group belongingness for the definition of oneself may not be so common (Siebers, 2009). The soldier image also overemphasizes a static view of identification one that frequently seems superficial and misleading when closely scrutinized (Ashcraft and Alvesson, 2008). In Table 1 and Figure 1 an overview of the seven positions and an effort to both relate them to the two key dimensions and also to illustrate their internal relations are provided.

Comments on the framework


The aim of the framework is not to reflect on specific theories or texts, or on how individuals actually construct identity (or are pre-constructed in self-definition). Rather, it indicates central reference points (ideal types) for the conceptualization of the individual as an identity constructor in the field of identity studies in organizations. There is seldom a one to one relationship between a text and an image. One image (or root metaphor or gestalt) does not capture everything in complex reasoning. Most authors would say that there are securities and insecurities, identity constructions and the undermining of these, things being done to and done by the subject whose identity is at stake. Scott et al. (1998) for example, view identity as an anchor, but also emphasize the shifting targets for identification of individuals. Ashcraft (2007) too moves across some of the images suggested

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Figure 1. The seven images in relation to each other. (To repeat, the domains indicated by the figure only indicate some of the key aspects differentiating the images.)

above, in arguing that occupational identity is an ongoing persuasive endeavour that traverses time and space, across macro and micro messages, institutions and actors, that serves to (re)organize work by mobilizing discourses of difference in response to lived pressures and material circumstances (p. 15). Differences between authors (texts) reflect which of these elements are privileged in analysis and how the themes and their relationships are addressed. The image idea aims to capture how the individual is conceptualized and portrayed in the identity construction process. Some texts would express the view that there is a tendency towards coherence, integration and distinctiveness easing uncertainty and fluidity, while others would see the latter experiences as typically salient or lurking beneath the surface in contemporary organizational life. Texts also vary in what they imagine the major source of this accomplishment or failure to be. Some would emphasize managerial regimes/other social forces (e.g. post-bureaucratization, according to Sennett, 1998) while others view human agency as central. In other words, the variation concerns whether it is contingency factors or the fragility or strength of human beings as riddled with existential anxiety or as

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creative storytellers that drive individuals towards fixed/integrated or diverse/fragmented identity constructions. As pointed out above, an image includes a theoretical idea, but is not the same as a theory. Image and theory are neither independent nor directly implied by each other. Images can to some extent be linked with different theories, and vice versa, although some combinations do not work. In parts of social identity theory there are also combinations of dynamic and relational, as well as static and trait-like ingredients, sometimes salient in one and the same text. On the one hand, the definitions of others and the self are mainly relational and comparative (Ashforth and Mael, 1989: 154) and it is assumed that most individuals slide fairly easily from one identity to another (p. 148); on the other hand, ideas of group identification and cognition of oneness between self and organization implies something fairly stable and fixed. The latter view, which dominates applications of social identity theory in organization studies, is illuminated by the soldier image, but as the first citation suggests, a surfer image is also possible as a guideline for users of SIT. Similarly, within research drawing upon organizational identification, most emphasize a soldier version of positive identification, but there are also examples of researchers with a stronger focus on disidentification and, in particular, ambivalence, which then come closer to the struggler view (e.g. Humphries and Brown, 2002; Pratt, 2000). Writings of Foucauldian theorists, while typically based on an image of identity as stencil, may also when resistance is emphasized be viewed as being guided by an image of struggle. The point is thus that the level of image adds a different level of understanding to how we conceptualize individuals as identity constructers (or as targeted for identity constructions by management, discourse, social structures), as well as to broader paradigm-like distinctions (e.g. constructionism versus essentialism) and specific theories (this text is then similar to Morgan, 1980). Through the conscious use of images and perhaps through varying and confronting these specific theories can be used differently, and possibly more creatively. The images can, of course, also be used in empirical work, as sensitizing devices in fieldwork. It is possible to see existential anxiety, identity struggle, switching of subject position and storytelling being targeted for subordination to a Discursive regime and being strongly identified with a social aggregate as theoretically guided empirical themes. The set of images then can be seen as a resource for more sensitive and less reductionistic empirical work and as useful for thinking through what could be observed and what questions could be asked. The images then inform the design of a checklist to be used in inquiries. In addition to using a specific theory (social identity theory, psychoanalysis, etc.) and being interested in an empirical topic (socialization, motives, leadership) in relationship to identity conceptualizing before, during and/or after fieldwork the suggested framework may add imaginativeness and guidelines for inquiry. Looking at and confronting various images with each other may open up for redirections and novelty in studies.

Conclusion
This article offers an interpretation and a re-presentation of some contemporary ideas on identity (self-identity) in organization studies. The ambition is not so much to provide a detailed and uncontroversial map or sorting-machine, as to trigger awareness of alternative conceptualizations and facilitate clearer choices for identity researchers. This means that it

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becomes more important to point out some interesting variations, rather than to cover and plug in all possibly important works on a knowledge map. One can here perhaps add that the map metaphor is misleading. The field is very messy and shifting; it is difficult to produce re-representations, different vocabularies constitute the field in various ways and the overview will, if read, also trigger changes. The challenge is to provide an overview while acknowledging ambiguity, tensions and dynamics, and to give a productive framework for options without boxing in ideas and lines of thinking in rigid categories. This article gives a quite different overview of the field than the available literature reviews, which are focused on paradigms, specific theoretical perspectives or research areas. Authors typically point towards two or three broad, and general, theoretical orientations such as essentialism or non-essentialism (Cerulo, 1997) or identification with a collective or parts of the self (Stryker and Burke, 2000: 284). Alternatively, literature reviews emphasize a sub-area and then concentrate on theories in this. For instance, Pratt et al. (2006) review socialization, transition and identity work approaches to the understanding of professional identity construction. Or reviews go through the relationships between identity and various topics or research areas, for example, handicap, family, social movements, etc. (Howard, 2000). This article adds to the literature through a) pointing to a wide set of theoretical reference points and conceptualizations of identity, and b) addressing this on the level of image, with a broad relevance for addressing a multitude of work and organizational phenomena. Hopefully, this clarifies and broadens options for identity research. Through the pointing out of tensions and variations within literature drawing upon these images, the article also attempts to encourage creativity in how we can think about identity constructions in organizations. Considering the relations between the images may be helpful here. Two basic dimensions (or constellations of themes that are seen to be related) surface in this work. One is the degree of insecurity, fluidity and ambiguity versus the degree of coherence, robustness and integration of self-identity. The other is whose wide or narrow shoulders the burden and joy of identity construction work falls upon. One extreme view is to see this as a matter of individual effort and capacity (or lack of it): struggling with aligning diverse forces, existential and/or socially induced insecurity and anxiety. The other view is to see this as an outcome of various social forms and discursive forces, where the identification with a standard for being a dominant Discourse or a corporate/ occupational identity offers a response to the questions of who am I? These dimensions offer quite wide fields of inquiry, leading to a rich variety of positions and lines of reasoning. Rather than bringing the dimensions together through a two-by-two matrix and fixing everything into four boxes, seven key images are identified/constructed. Each of these includes a central idea that goes beyond the two broad dimensions used to emphasize comparisons, for example, existential insecurity or the power effects of Discourse. The individual, preoccupied with self-identity, can thus be understood as a: x x Self-doubter: identity is viewed as circling around the irreducible, but socially reinforced quality of insecurity and anxiety, undermining identity constructions. Struggler: identity is understood as a struggle, at times uphill, enacted in order to construct a self-identity that at least provides a temporal sense of coherence and a reduction of fragmentation and pain.

212 x

Human Relations 63(2) Surfer: the subject is viewed as processual and open, meaning that in a dynamic and turbulent world, the moves made between those subject positions offering temporary identities take place without all that much friction or contest between forces and interests. Storyteller: the reflexive construction and re-production of a narrative of oneself is viewed as a potentially effective way of dealing with the openness and uncertainties of life. Strategist: the individual tries to craft a sense of self (collective identification) that is then to be mobilized for the accomplishment of a personal or collective objective. Stencil: identity is seen as an effect of the operations of regulatory forces creating a docile and conformist self, eager to replicate the dominant templates for being. Soldier: social entities (formal organizations, collectivities), often made appealing through managerial means (e.g. constructions of organizational identities), offer material for self-definition by functioning as sources of identification.

x x x

This set of images is based on, and targets, organization studies (and to a minor extent social psychological literatures) on individual identity constructions, but does not prevent it from being potentially useful when thinking about identity in relation to various collectivities (occupational or organizational identities). But how can we use the framework within the intended area? One possibility is to view these positions as a smorgasbord, thereby encouraging a holistic view and sensitivity in empirical work. Images can enrich fieldwork by suggesting possible questions and lines of inquiry. A second option is to assume empirical variation, and to use the framework as a set of resources for mainly inductive work, where data are seen as pointing at a particular image that is, in turn, invoked to develop and refine results. A counterpoint would be that we can not understand cases neutrally and then determine which perspective and vocabulary fit best. The image used informs the construction of any empirical phenomenon and provides an antidote to being narrowly captured by empirical surface manifestations. The idea in this article is thus to regard these images as alternative positions, based on not altogether compatible, and in some cases different, ontologies and epistemologies. It could be argued that depth and coherence call for choosing, cultivating and sticking with a particular image, therefore implying some in-depth knowledge, even though there are other ways of formulating images than the one presented here. A more interesting research approach than working with an easy and apparent fit between theory and empirical material is often to use a theory based on data that at first glance does not actually seem to allow space for interpretation by that particular theory. This tactic/style calls for both ambitious unpacking efforts and creative interpretation. Identity is a difficult theme to study and it can easily involve everything and nothing. It calls for sensitive interpretations. This article aims to encourage the use of carefully thought through images and to support reflexive studies where the researcher keeps more than one image in mind and is prepared to challenge his/her conceptualizations and lines of inquiry. Acknowledgement The author is grateful to Karen Lee Ashcraft, Yvonne Billing and Jacqueline Colleary for help in polishing the text. The work with the article was facilitated by a grant from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS).

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1 In referring to various overall camps, one can be described by terms like integrated, robust, sovereign, coherent and essentialism and the other by terms like insecurity, anxiety, fluidity and incoherence. Of course, this categorization conceals that there are rather varied orientations, alternative conceptualizations and ontological positionings that are framed also in other ways. There are no necessary or automatic links between the phenomena referred to; insecurity and fluidity do not always, or by definition, go together. A robust identity construction can be an effect of the workings of power and is then not associated with sovereignty. Nevertheless, in the literature as a whole, there are strong tendencies for researchers to work with sets of characteristics as referred to above.

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Mats Alvesson is Professor of Business Administration at the University of Lund, Sweden and at University of Queensland Business School, Australia. He is Honorary Professor at University of St Andrews and Visiting Professor at Exeter University. Research interests include critical theory, gender, power, management of professional service (knowledge intensive) organizations, leadership, identity, organizational image, organizational culture and symbolism, qualitative methods and philosophy of science. Recent books include Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies (Oxford University Press, 2009, edited with Todd Bridgman and Hugh Willmott), Understanding Gender and Organizations (SAGE, 2009, 2nd edn with Yvonne Billing), Reflexive Methodology (Sage, 2009, 2nd edn, with Kaj Skoldberg), Changing Organizational Culture (Routledge, 2008, with Stefan Sveningsson), Knowledge Work and Knowledge-intensive Firms (Oxford University Press, 2004), Postmodernism and Social Research (Open University Press, 2002), and Understanding Organizational Culture (SAGE, 2002). [Email: mats.alvesson@fek.lu.se]

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