How do we describe our professional selves? Investigating collective identity configurations across professions

BAYERL, Petra Saskia, HORTON, Kate E and JACOBS, Gabriele (2018). How do we describe our professional selves? Investigating collective identity configurations across professions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 107, 168-181.

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Understanding how individuals make sense of their professions provides important guidance for career decisions and career counseling. In this paper we aim to further our knowledge of profession-specific self-understandings by investigating collective accounts of what professional members consider to be ‘one of us’. In contrast to objective approaches to job descriptions, our study thus investigates the subjective framings of professional identities. For this purpose, we collected self-descriptions from two different professions: police officers (n = 149) and market researchers (n = 357). Content analysis of the 7545 resulting statements revealed that self-descriptions in both professions relied on only a small number of thematic building blocks for their construction, yet focused on disparate aspects to frame their identities. We refer to these framings as identity configurations, reflecting variations in the relevance given to topics and themes across professional groups. Comparing these collective accounts of identity configurations with existing schemes, we find important additions to current understandings of professional identities by their members. Our findings also reveal the multi-level nature of professional self-descriptions. Our observations offer a new conceptual lens to study professional self-understandings, with practical applications for career counselling and guidance. In addition, our paper contributes to discussions around identity congruence as well as the content and multi-level nature of professional identities.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1503 Business And Management; 1701 Psychology; 1303 Specialist Studies In Education; Business & Management
Identification Number:
Page Range: 168-181
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 14:20
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:31

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