The aim of this review is to focus on the relationship between paid / unpaid work and the formation of an individual’s personal identity and their general sense of self. The key sociological question I intend to address is ‘How does work shape personal identity?’ However, throughout the course of my research for this literature review two other questions relating to work and identity have arisen; ‘How does occupation/ job status affect self-worth and an individual’s level of self esteem’ and ‘Do individuals develop a separate work personality?’ I believe that these additional questions along with my core research question provide a good basis for further research into this topic area. Thus, I will attempt to also address the new questions to further assist the development of my forthcoming research proposal.
The first of the articles that I found particularly interesting and the most useful of all the literature on the general topic of work and identity was written by Billett’s (2007) “Exercising self through working life: Learning, work and identity”. This article explores the motivation of an individual to learn through engaging in work and how this in turn can result in development of self and identity. The study suggests that there is a two-way causal relationship between participating in work and formation of personal identity, wherein work can influence sense of self and one’s self can affect how they engage in learning and working. The author also stipulates that it is important to understand how individuals gain attributes throughout their life as a worker, how they apply their identity in participating in work, and how this is associated with their personal values and beliefs.
The bulk of research reported in this study is based on an interview methodology. A sample of five individuals who were active participants in the paid workforce was interviewed. The data collection consisted of a series of semi formal interviews / conversations that were tape...
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