Evolving identities, social media and the employment relationship: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

TAYLOR, Claire (2018). Evolving identities, social media and the employment relationship: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00106


This study uses interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to explore how actors in three key organisational roles: human resources practitioners, operational managers and employees use social media to dramaturgically shape identity and the implication this has on employment relationships. The study contributes to qualitative research design by using a multi-perspective approach. The research draws upon data captured from 25 semi-structured, in- depth interviews. Analysis is presented in four key themes: 1) adoption, participation and staging of social media in the workplace 2) power, control and surveillance of social media use 3) evolving identity and dramaturgical performance on social media; and finally, 4) resistance, misbehaviour and conflict. The findings reveal social media are not widely adopted, lack strategic coordination and their purpose is not fully understood. Actors used a variety of sites to dramaturgically stage their identity and aesthetic representations of self; some were contradictory to organisational expectations. Little training existed to develop social media skills, therefore was regarded sceptically by HR and management who sought tighter control mechanisms to govern access and use. Social media policy was often unclear and difficult to find. Regulations became attenuated as they filtered through organisations. Management, in attempts to control use, developed bastardised rules suiting their own agendas including hard HR management tactics, surveillance and pre-screening of employee profiles for recruitment and disciplinary purposes. Such regimes were not governed by policy or development; these have ethical implications. Employees used sousveillance to observe peers and management; highlighting possibilities for regulations and highlight both a challenge and resistance to power in employment relationships. The regimes of control contributed to novel forms of misbehaviour which require reflection and adaptation to management practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Ridley-Duff, Rory
Thesis advisor - Prowse, Peter
Thesis advisor - Tietze, Susanne
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Professor Rory Ridley-Duff Supervisors - Peter Prowse and Susanne Tietze
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00106
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2018 12:23
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 13:31
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23244

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