Jonathan David Jensen - 3rd year PhD presentation

Social Identity Processes in Liminal Social Contexts: Group Convergence and Group Divergence

Info about event


Monday 5 September 2022,  at 09:00 - 10:00




Department of Management

Supervisors: Dorthe Døjbak Håkonsson & Lars Frederiksen
Discussants: Pernille Smith & Carsten Bergenholtz

As independent work grows faster than any form of employment in the western world, it is imperative to study how independent workers cope with the precariousness of a personalized identity and career in the absence of organizational support. Previous studies suggest that the reality of independent work is riddled with paradoxes that pose a challenge to building a coherent identity, and that independent workers “learn to live with their liminality” by adopting helpful relational and career-related attributes. Yet the literature fails to integrate social identity theory when discussing this challenge, nor does it highlight why differences in attributes emerge among similar groups of contractors; Social identity theory is inseparable from the construct of liminality – which entails navigating changing social contexts. Through inductive theory-building using qualitative interviews with IT Contractors, this paper argues that self-categorization via two distinct social identity processes (group convergence and group divergence) leads freelancers to exhibit contrasting attributes that contribute to increasing or decreasing perceived uncertainty. I contribute to the literature on how independent workers cope with uncertainty, by theorizing how they do so differently on a socio-cognitive level. I also contribute to social identity theory, by showing that prototype-based depersonalization (group convergence) is not the only prominent social identity process, and that personalization (group divergence) might be the prominent social identity process through which uncertainty is reduced, in social contexts permeated by liminality.

Everyone is welcome!