Organizing Identity: Persons and Organizations ‘After Theory’


Paul du Gay

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  • Regarding Cultural Studies

    Culture, Representation and Identities is dedicated to a particular understanding of ‘cultural studies’ as an inherently interdisciplinary project critically concerned with the analysis of meaning. The series focuses attention on the importance of the contemporary ‘cultural turn’ in forgiving a radical re-think of the centrality of ‘the cultural’ and the articulation between the material and the symbolic in social analysis. One aspect of this shift is the expansion of ‘cultural’ to a much wider, more inclusive range of institutions and pratices, including those conventionally termed ‘economic’ and ‘political’.

    Paul du Gay is at the faculty of Social Sciences at The Open University.

    Stuart Hall is Emeritus Professor at The Open University and Visiting Professor at Goldsmiths College, the University of London.

    Books in the series:

    Representing Black Britain

    Black and Asian Images on Television

    Sarita Malik

    Cultural Economy

    Cultural Analysis and Commercial Life

    Edited by paul du Gay and Michael Pryke

    Advertising Cultures

    Gender, Commerce, Creativity

    Sean Nixon


    A Cultural Economy

    Liz McFall

    Organizing Identity

    Paul du Gay

    organizing identity:

    persons and organizations ‘after theory’

    paul du gay


    View Copyright Page


    In memory of REdG


    The list of contributors to this book is too long to include in full; however I would particularly like to thank the following organizations and individuals.

    The John Lewis Partnership, and especially their Archivist, Judith Faraday, for facilitating access to the partnership archives and for helping me find my way around them. Thanks also to Sophie Taysom for providing research assistance on the ‘Self-Service’ project.

    The Sociology Program at the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University for providing a Fellowship that enabled me to get this book started. Special thanks to Judy Wajcman for inviting and looking after me, and to fellow-visitors Ann-Jorun Berg and Robert Van Krieken for their intellectual companionship.

    The Department of Organization and Industrial Sociology at the Copenhagen Business School for allocating a Visiting Professorship that allowed me the opportunity to try out some of the ideas contained in this book in a doctoral seminar on Identity. Thanks in particular to the postgraduates who participated in the seminar and to Ann Westenholz, Torben Elgaard Jensen and Susse Georg for their encouragement and support.

    The Centre for Critical Theory at the University of the West of England for offering me a Visiting Chair from 2002 to 2005. Thanks to my friend and colleague Anthony Elliott for his unstinting support, and to Ajit Nayak and Anthony Beckett for their interest and enthusiasm.

    The Economic and Social Research Council in the form of their Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CReSC) for enabling me to take a generous period of study leave that enabled this book to be completed. I am especially grateful to the Directors of the Centre, Mike Savage, Tony Bennett and Karel Williams.

    I am deeply grateful to friends and scholars who discussed ideas with me, allowed me to plunder theirs and offered much needed guidance or support. I would especially like to thank: Frances Bonner, John Clarke, Franck Cochoy, Gill Court, Liz McFall, Angela McRobbie, Danny Miller, Sean Nixon, Mike Pryke, Alan Scott, Andy Sturdy, Charlie Turner and Margie Wetherell.

    I owe a particular debt to Richard Chapman, Stuart Hall, Ian Hunter, David Saunders and Marilyn Strathern whose work has motivated this book in ways they are probably not aware of and may even find a little odd. A special debt is owed to Hall, Hunter and Saunders who have been constant and indispensable sources of ideas, dialogue and guidance. Needless to say, neither they nor any other person mentioned here is to blame for the failings this book undoubtedly possesses.

    Special thanks to Julia Hall, my editor at Sage, who commissioned the book and has maintained a belief in its eventual appearance that often eluded me.

    Finally, I would like to thank Jessica Evans and Ella du Gay who have lived with and contributed to this book in one form or another over a number of years.

    Portions of this book draw on published and unpublished papers:

    Chapter 3 incorporates arguments from ‘Which is the “Self” in “Self-Interest”’, which first appeared in The Sociological Review, 53(3)(2005): 391–411.

    Chapter 4 develops arguments first aired in ‘Self-Service: retail, shopping and personhood’, in Consumption, Markets and Culture, 7(2)(2004): 149–64.

    Chapter 6 is a revised version of ‘The Tyranny of the Epochal: change, epochalism and organizational reform’, which appeared in Organization, 10(4)(2003): 663–84.

    Arguments contained in Chapter 7 first appeared in ‘A Common Power to Keep Them All in Awe: a comment on governance’, Cultural Values, 6(1)(2002): 11–27.

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