A rhetoric based approach to occupational identity and identity change : a study of industrial designers

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Existing identity and occupation theories assume a coherent occupational identity within a particular occupational group. Identity change has accordingly been assumed to happen only at critical transition points such as job changes and career transitions. Drawing on ethnographic data collected from the in-house design center of a major communication technology company, I challenge these assumptions by showing that, first, workers maintain and use alternative, mutually incoherent occupational rhetorics to build their occupational identities; and second, identity change happens not only during career or work-role transitions but also within the parameters of a particular work role, in the form of longitudinal variation in the composition and use of alternative occupational rhetorics. Such change results from people's constant maneuver, shift, and negotiation within and across the distinct rhetorical stances in situated social interactions. In developing a rhetoric based approach to occupational identity and identity change, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of the role of rhetoric in the social construction of self, the occupational basis of identity, and the ways in which identity evolves.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2014
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Liu, Lei
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Management Science and Engineering.
Primary advisor Hinds, Pamela
Thesis advisor Hinds, Pamela
Thesis advisor Barley, Stephen R
Thesis advisor Sutton, Robert
Advisor Barley, Stephen R
Advisor Sutton, Robert


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Lei Liu.
Note Submitted to the Department of Management Science and Engineering.
Thesis Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2014.
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2014 by Lei Liu
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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