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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the use of metaphor in identity-related research in organization studies via a systematic analysis of five key review articles. In total, 137 different identity metaphors were identified. It is posited that the existence of a vast array of identity metaphors increases complexity, ambiguity, and indeterminacy rather than producing definitional clarity or meaningful insights. In order to enhance identity research, the authors advocate a focus on three specific forms of metaphor-based inquiry: (1) a deductive approach using metaphors as analytic tools in data gathering (i.e. a projective empirical focus) rather than simply using them as a means of interpreting or framing data (a reflective conceptual emphasis); (2) exposing embedded identity metaphors through inductive epistemologies (e.g. via deconstruction and critical discursive techniques); and (3) the investigation of ‘dormant identity metaphors’ (such as ‘identity work’) using correspondence-based approaches to metaphor via processes of conceptual blending.

Keywords: metaphor, identity, identification, identity work, conceptual blending

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