Branded Lives
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Branded Lives

The Production and Consumption of Meaning at Work

Edited by Matthew J. Brannan, Elizabeth Parsons and Vincenza Priola

Branded Lives explores the increasingly popular concept of employee branding as a new form of employment relationship based on brand representation. In doing so it examines the ways in which the production and consumption of meaning at work are increasingly mediated by the brand. This insightful collection draws on qualitative empirical studies in a range of contexts to include services, retail and manufacturing organizations. The contributors explore the nuances of employee branding from various disciplinary standpoints such as: organization studies, marketing, human resource management and industrial relations. They take a critical perspective on work and organizations and document the lived experience of work and employment under branded conditions. In investigating the extent to which a variety of organizational strategies seek to mould workplace meanings and practices to further build and sustain brand value and the effectiveness of these in terms of employee responses, the authors question whether the attempt to ‘brand’ workers’ lives actually enhances or diminishes the meaning and experience of work.
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Chapter 3: Be Who You Want To Be: Branding, Identity and the Desire for Authenticity

Christopher Land and Scott Taylor


Christopher Land and Scott Taylor Introduction: branding authenticity Contemporary managers often profess concern with employees’ lives outside the workplace. Mental health, physical well-being and recreational pastimes are all subjects of managerial interest and have been since before Henry Ford created his department of sociology in the early twentieth century (Clarke, 1990). As the range of counselling, coaching and employee assistance initiatives demonstrate, managers are concerned with regulating employees’ behaviour in their private lives, for example with respect to alcohol and drug use (Hansen, 2004; Wray-Bliss, 2009). In the current corporate context, regulation has extended from the physical to the emotional and the metaphysical, so that even employee spiritual life is considered a fair target for managerial intervention (Bell and Taylor, 2003). In a broader social context managerial discourses and practices permeate the governance of everyday life so that in our careers, with friends, at home with family, and in our leisure time, we are encouraged to manage our selves and relationships such that life increasingly resembles a project of work (Hancock and Tyler, 2009). The boundary between work and life is permeable in both directions, however. Just as work and managerialism leak into non-work spaces and moments, so employees’ non-work lives spill over into workplaces, often using the same technologies that are associated with flexible working and the extension of work into life (Wajcman et al., 2008). While this movement can be characterized as a form of resistance if it is seen as an appropriation of time and resources, it...

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