Introduction: Personas at Work
In this special issue we take up many of these threads in order to examine and to better understand the work persona as a public identity we mobilize and perform to manage the demands of our labour. In particular we are interested in work as a social condition that makes particular demands on us, and compels and inspires us to craft and perform particular identities. The ways in which our labour and our employers shape, influence, and discipline our constructions and performances of persona in work settings does not, however, negate our agency in this process: the negotiation and management of sometimes competing and contradictory roles, impulses, and desires can be a site of anxiety and friction but also of creativity.
In this introduction to the issue, work personas are framed as necessary—perhaps even inevitable—identity performances that are a condition of work, working, and interacting with other workers. However, because the conditions of how, where, and why we labour and what constitutes “work” have changed significantly over time, so too have our strategies for producing and performing work identities. In our present moment, the work persona has explicitly and self-consciously entered the marketplace as a valuable commodity as both employers and employees become hyper-aware of the significance, function, and processes of image management. Moreover, the ways in which digital and social media have changed our work cultures now make it increasingly difficult to talk about and perform a work persona that is a distinct entity from personas performed in other contexts.
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