PhD Studentship Sociomateriality and disabled organizational members’ identity work: a critical poststructuralist research agenda

Sociomateriality and disabled organizational members’ identity work: a critical poststructuralist research agenda

Interest is sought for a Northumbria University funded full-time PhD student at Newcastle Business School, to study how ‘disabled’ organizational members’ identity work (Sveningsson and Alvesson, 2003: Watson, 2008) is shaped by and responds to the influences of embodied practices and material arrangements within the workplace. This research project aims to address a perceived over-emphasis, in the extant identity literature, on identity work as talk and to rebalance the role of materiality in identity work (Corlett, Williams and Meindel, 2013; Symon and Pritchard, 2011; Symon, 2012; Bardon et al., 2012). Taking a critical poststructuralist approach to identity work and a relational ontology perspective on sociomateriality (Orlikowski and Scott, 2008), this research project will explore how disabled organizational members are constituted through sociomaterial relations and practices involving the body, assistive technology, and mundane artefacts.

As well as contributing to the emerging interest in the sociomateriality of identity work, the research project will build on Williams and Mavin’s (2012) research which addresses the inadequate theorizing, within Organization Studies, of the marginalizing and constituting effects of ableism (the ‘ideas, practices, institutions and social relations that presume ablebodiedness’, Chouinard, 1997: 380) within workplaces. This research project will problematize how sociomaterial practices are based on ableism, and will give theoretical insights into the influence of ableist normative sociomaterial practices for disabled peoples’ identity work.

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The focus in the proposed research project on both discursive and performative elements of identity work for disabled people is likely to have methodological implications, for instance in designing a study which does not concentrate only on talk but incorporates other approaches such as ethnography and action research. The organisational, sector or cultural context of the study is likely to be relevant also. For instance, in workplace contexts where impairment effects related material objects (such as assistive techonology) differ greatly from standardised material artefacts, they may have greater influence in constructing disabled organizational members as different and as marginalized others. Also the identity regulatory effects of ableism may vary between mainstream workplace contexts in the private and public sectors, and organizations of disabled people, such as voluntary organizations or charities, where disability is the norm.

This research will be conduced within the Organisation and Human Resource Management Subject Group at Newcastle Business School.

For further details on working on this project, please contact Dr Jannine Williams ( or Dr Sandra Corlett (

You should apply using the Application Form via the ‘Apply’ button below. Applications should be submitted to Sarah Jukes, Programme Support Co-ordinator, via email to:

Deadline for applications: 13 December 2013
Interviews will be held during January 2014
The project start date will be in February 2014

Funding Notes:

This is one of eight projects advertised in competition for two funded studentship places. Applicants should only apply to one of the eight projects advertised.

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Each studentship place is funded by Northumbria University, and includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (in 2013/14 this is £13,726 pa) and Home/EU fees.

Applications for this project are welcome from suitably qualified candidates worldwide; however non-EU nationals will have to pay the difference between the home tuition fees and the overseas tuition fees.

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