Being Regimented: A Case Study of the Regulation of Identity in the British Parachute Regiment
Andrew D. Brown
This paper analyzes how the preferred self-conceptions of men in an elite military unit - the British Parachute Regiment - were disciplined by the organizationally-based discursive resources on which they drew. The research contribution this paper makes is twofold. First, we argue that desired identities are mechanisms for disciplining employees' identity work, and analyze how paratroopers were subject to, and constituted by, the discursive practices of the Regiment. Paratroopers' preferred conceptions of their selves were disciplined by understandings both of what it meant to be a paratrooper and of the processes by which they were made. Second, to complement other understandings of identities, we suggest that people are often best characterized as "aspirants". An aspirational identity is a story-type or template in which an individual construes him- or her-self as one who is earnestly desirous of being a particular kind of person and self-consciously and consistently in pursuit of this objective. The recognition of subjectively construed identities as narrativized permits an appreciation of individuals as sophisticatedly agentic, while recognizing that their choices may restrict their scope for further discursive manoeuvre.
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