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Identity work and the`unemployed' worker: age, disability and the lived experience of the older unemployed

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    Rights statement: Loretto, W. & Riach, K. Mar 2009, "Identity work and the `unemployed' worker: age, disability and the lived experience of the older unemploye"d", in Work, Employment and Society 23, 1, p. 102-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0950017008099780. The final publication is available at wes.sagepub.com

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-119
Number of pages18
JournalWork, Employment And Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


This article seeks to explore how older individuals negotiate and manage their self-identity in relation to work while situated without paid employment. After reviewing the current positions of the older unemployed in the UK, noting the substantial overlap between age and disability, we turn our attention to conceptualizing the lived experiences of individuals through exploring `identity work' as a means of understanding a non-working work identity. Based upon focus group interviews, our empirical analysis focuses on key dimensions of participants' identity practice and how they sought to manage the following social processes: imposed identities; crafting working identities; and contesting unfavourable working identities.The conclusion contextualizes the findings against a backdrop of increasing individualistic discourses underpinning approaches to employability, closes with the policy implications arising from this study, and makes suggestions for future research agendas.

    Research areas

  • age , disability, identity work, older worker, unemployment

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