Something of collaborative manufacture: The construction of race and gender identities in organizations

Foldy, E.G.
Journal of Applied Behavioral Science

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Using qualitative data, this paper documents how organizations contribute to the construction of their members’ race and gender identities.  Data collection took place in four organizations, from a small nonprofit to a large financial services firm.  Using interactions as the unit of analysis, I compiled and investigated a database of 114 interactions, creating a process model of how working in an organization can spotlight and change the expression of racial, ethnic and gender identities.  The paper makes four contributions: it suggests a broader reach for organizational influence on individual identity, since earlier research has explored work-related identities; it distinguishes among levels of influence by isolating the discrete role of interpersonal encounters, organizational practices, and the combination of the two; it casts light on how identity construction happens even without intentional effort by individuals or organizations; and it illustrates the importance of modest changes in the construction of identity.

Wagner Faculty