Rating tales: an evaluation of divergent views of occupational identification



Publication Details

Reveley, J. & McLean, P. D. (2008). Rating tales: an evaluation of divergent views of occupational identification. Management and Organizational History, 3 (2), 127-145.


This article evaluates two divergent views of the future of occupation identification by core industry employees. The first asserts that occupational identities are waning as identity-challenging managerial techniques reshape classic worker identities. The second contends that frontline workers are developing new repertoires of resistance that sustain robust occupational identities. Underlying these views, respectively, is an implicit teleology and a cyclical notion of labour history that posits trade unions as the locus of identity formation and resistance. Contemporary instances of occupational identification render these assumptions problematical. Drawing from an underground coalmining industry case study, we show how miners achieve a shared occupational identity through narrative resistance to individuating managerial techniques. We conclude that (a) labour movement decline and heightened managerialism spell neither the end of occupational identification nor of oppositional resistance, and (b) the historical unidirectionality and labour organizational essentialism contained in the two rival accounts of occupational identification are untenable.

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