Stop helping me! Identity, recognition and agency in the nexus of work and care

Tomkins, Leah and Eatough, Virginia (2012) Stop helping me! Identity, recognition and agency in the nexus of work and care. Organization . ISSN 1350-5084 [Article] (doi:10.1177/1350508412461293)


This article explores what it is like to be a ‘working carer’ - that increasingly common category of employee who combines paid work with unpaid care. We draw on phenomenology for our initial motivation, epistemological assumptions and method of data analysis, and on critical sensemaking as a template for interpretation and theorization. In line with critical sensemaking, we see identity as a central feature of personhood, and we examine our participants’ identity work through the specific refractions of plausibility, context and agency. These highlight the inconsistencies and oscillations of identity work, and the ways in which it is influenced by competing discourses of the right kind of employee and the right kind of woman. We foreground the existential aspects of sensemaking, as participants struggle to come to terms with the impact of care on their own life-projects and search for meaning. This reflects our belief that experiential approaches to work-related issues have a vital part to play in a ‘turn to meaning’ in critical organizational research. Key implications for practitioners and campaigners are discussed, and policy makers urged to address the issue of working carer identification, recognition and support with greater sensitivity to the label’s psychological and existential implications.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
Item ID: 11981
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2013 13:53
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:28

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.