The realms of consumption have typically been seen to be distinct from those of work and production. This book examines how contemporary rhetorics and discourses of organizational change and reform are breaking down such distinctions - with significant implications for the construction of subjectivities and identities at work.
In particular, Paul du Gay shows how the capacities and predispositions required of consumers and those required of employees are increasingly difficult to distinguish. Both consumers and employees are represented as autonomous, responsible, calculating individuals. They are constituted as such in the language of consumer cultures and the all-pervasive discourses of enterprise whereby persons are required to be entrepreneurs of the self, at work, at play, and in all aspects of their lives.
The first part of the book explores certain limitations in traditional approaches to the analysis of work identity. It presents an alternative, discursive framework to address contemporary `re-imaginings' of organizational life in consumption cultures and the `cult(ure)' of the consumer. Part Two develops the analysis by looking at an arena where the blurring of the boundaries between work and consumption identities is most pronounced - retailing. Drawing on his own research, the author builds a sophisticated picture of how discourses of reform take hold in particular contexts, how they construct particular subject positions for employees to occupy, and how employees negotiate these identities in their everyday working lives. The author concludes by considering the ethical and other issues of `setting limits to enterprise'.
Focusing on the new articulations which are emerging in the government of organizational life, and organizational and personal identity, Consumption and Identity at Work will be essential reading for academics and students in organization theory and behaviour, management studies, sociology and cultural studies.