Purpose – To examine Hardt and Negri's discussions of immaterial labor in relation to personal identity and sociality at work in a context of the postmodernization of the global economy. Design/methodology/approach – Hardt and Negri's discussions of immaterial labor are reviewed in relation to their implications for social interaction and identity at work. Heidegger's idea of “presencing” is then used to examine the dynamic emergence of identity as an effect of the “affectualization” of work. Findings – Global trends towards an informationalized economy have profound implications for identity at work in that the dynamics of identity are foregrounded and managerial and organizational power structures that seek to define an essential worker identity are destabilized. Research limitations/implications – Suggests that research into identity at work should include a focus on the immaterial dimensions of work and should consider the implications of this for the dynamic emergence of identity and for future forms of organization and management. Practical implications – Suggests that the emergence of immaterial labor might provide increasing, albeit complex and contested, opportunities for worker participation; this is on what management relies, and what at the same time has the potential of undermining the legitimacy of management. Originality/value – Provides an innovative way of examining the dynamics of identity in contemporary organizations.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 1, 2005
Keywords: Organizational change; Corporate identity; Design of work
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