Who am I? Mothers’ shifting identities, loss and sensemaking after workplace
journal contributionposted on 2016-01-13, 10:52 authored by Shireen Kanji, E. Cahusac
We analyse mothers’ retrospective accounts of their transition from professional worker to stay-at-home mother using a framework that integrates sensemaking and border theory. The data come from in-depth interviews with former professional and managerial women in London. Continuing struggles to reconcile professional and maternal identities before and after workplace exit illustrate how identity change is integral to workplace exit. The concept of ‘choice’, which takes place at one point in time, obfuscates this drawn-out process. Mothers pay a high cost in lost professional identities, especially in the initial stages after workplace exit. They cope with this loss and the disjuncture of leaving employment by moving back and forth across the border between home and work – a classic action of sensemaking. Subsequent communal sensemaking and community action bolster mothers’ fragile status at home, eventually leading to reconciliation of their loss and finally enabling them to view their exit ‘choice’ as right.
CitationHuman Relations (2015), 68(9), pp. 1415-1436
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Management
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)