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Work identity pause and reactivation: a study of cross-domain identity transitions of trailing wives in Dubai

Rowson, T. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1605-2927, Meyer, A. and Houldsworth, E. (2021) Work identity pause and reactivation: a study of cross-domain identity transitions of trailing wives in Dubai. Work, Employment and Society. ISSN 0950-0170 (In Press)

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Abstract/Summary

This study takes a cross-domain identity transition perspective to explore the development of work-related identities by trailing wives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Biographical-narrative interviews with 28 expatriate wives were conducted and analysed using thematic analysis. The findings indicated that these women approached their cross-domain identity transition sequentially through a process of work identity pause and reactivation. Gendered family demands and contextual constraints lead them to temporarily pause their work identity while adjusting to non-work domain changes. The reactivation of the work identity domain prompted them to redevelop a work identity aligned to their new reality. Four manifestations of identity redevelopment status emerged: hobbyists, adaptors, explorers and re-inventors. For some women, their emerging work identity was just a way to escape the ‘expat wife’ stigma, for others it was an opportunity to develop a new career. This article introduces the concepts of identity pause and reactivation.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Henley Business School > Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour
ID Code:95607
Publisher:Sage

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