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Identity transitions: possible selves, liminality and the dynamics of career change (RV of 2005/24/0B)

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This article develops a theory of identity transition in voluntary career change. The proposed motor for the transition process is change in a person's possible selves. The theory proposes three categories of mechanisms for creating and testing possible selves: direct action (activities), social interaction (relationships) and sense making (events). The theory also proposes a sequence of transition stages with characteristic identity tasks and dynamics. In the early stages of transition, activities, relationships and/or events alter the salience of, and behavioural commitment to, possible selves premised on old and new work identities. This exploratory stage gives rise to a liminal, or middle, period in which one or more career possibilities are selected for a more sustained trial, and conflict between old and new identities heightens. Temporal, spatial and relational boundaries foster identity play by buffering newer, more fragile possibilities from the rules and obligations that govern better established identities. Toward the end of the transition cycle, in the absence of an institutionalized role passage, such as a promotion or lay-off, transition narratives help people make sense of their experience and make choices among the alternatives generated.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://flora.insead.edu/fichiersti_wp/inseadwp2005/2005-51.pdf

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Copyright INSEAD. All rights reserved