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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Research on identity at work tends to take the individual as unit of analysis. This chapter explores how we might address identity beyond the person—not merely as a social practice led by conscious humans, but as a semi-conscious bodily encounter that activates the individual. Drawing on affect theory, the author makes the case for a pre-individual approach to identity, abridged as ‘senses of self’. Instead of a social construction that is primarily human, social, and intersubjective, identity becomes a sociomaterial production that is posthuman, social and material, and transpersonal. After conceptualizing this shift, the author shows how it can help us rework current formulations of identity at work, such as the ‘glass slipper’ of occupational identity. Ultimately, the author argues that a pre-individual unit of analysis is crucial to better understanding late-capitalist operations of identity. By replacing the fantasy of bounded individuals who compose themselves with the figure of the Sleepwalker, the senses-of-self approach can cultivate a molecular politics of identity, attuned to bodily vulnerability.

Keywords: affect, affective economy, body, glass slipper, new materialisms, occupational identity, politics of identity, sociomateriality

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