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Presented By: Interdisciplinary Committee on Organizational Studies - ICOS

Narrative Alchemy: How Sharing Work with Children Shapes Parents' Narrative Identity Construction

Theresa Glomb

Theresa Glomb Theresa Glomb
Theresa Glomb
We conduct a qualitative, inductive study of working parents and their school-aged children to examine how parents co-construct work identity narratives with their children. Our analysis revealed that parents’ work orientations influenced how they share their work with their children (i.e., withholding, telling, showing, demonstrating, or involving), reinforcing or shaping their work identities. We find that when parents’ work holds a more central place in their identity, such as in the case of a “calling” as opposed to a “job,” parents engage in richer and more multifaceted forms of narrative sharing with their children. These unique sharing strategies preface particular narrative identity patterns, including identity diminishment, affirmation, enhancement, or expansion. Through bids for connection and understanding, parents who initially withheld their work narratives from their children (those with “jobs”) achieved self-enhancement as children sought and ascribed a more profound sense of meaning to their parents’ work. Parents who initially sought to affirm their identities through narrative (those with “callings”) achieved self-expansion by involving children in their work. Our proposed model describes a narrative alchemy that makes contributions to the narrative identity literature.

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