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date: 17 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses problems tied to when identity is used in organization studies in broad, slippery, and loose ways, with weak empirical support. The chapter shows limitations in the current over-expanded use of identity by looking at identity through a hembig-lens (i.e., when a concept is hegemonic, ambiguous, and big). The authors argue that identity needs to distinguish itself from and relate itself to similar concepts such as role and culture, rather than replace or be conflated with these. With the use of a simple typology—‘spot-on’, ‘stretch’, and ‘fake’—they explore previous empirical identity studies and reflect upon when these studies seem to be about identity and when other concepts, perhaps less fashionable but more to the point, would have been more fitting. The chapter suggests two main remedies in the form of theoretical scrutiny and methodological antidotes to address the current challenges in identity research in the hope it will inspire more insightful identity studies in the future.

Keywords: critique, concept-stretching, identity, identity work, identity minimalism, role

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