Creating and Dissolving ‘Identity’ in Global Mobility Studies: A Multi-scalar Inquiry of Belongingness and Becoming On-the-move

Kerstin Martel

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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Abstract

An increasingly diverse, highly qualified global workforce and the emergence of non-conformist, self-directed transnational pathways compel to question the prevalent comprehension of professional and personal identities. For centuries, modern conceptualisations of ‘the self’ and ‘identity’ have been fostered alongside individualist theories and nation state logics. However, as contemporary ‘movers’ lead their professional and personal lives across a plurality of social fields and locations, sedentarist metaphysics inhibit the apprehension of the ‘mobile self’. Enhanced boundary-crossing professional moves, when recurrent and self-directed, i.e., when not initiated, steered and controlled by employers, entail major epistemological challenges and spark ontological interrogations, which remain to be addressed in management and organisation studies. Whilst ‘global mobility’ and the attraction and retention of highly qualified employees constitute a strategic endeavour for employing organisations, the term ‘migration’ describes macro-economic and foremost political manifestations of the same phenomenon: geographical human movement. Despite distinct taxonomies, economic affairs and state affairs are increasingly intertwined when it comes to the attraction and retention of so-called ‘global talent’. In an attempt to address these late modern complexities, the author demonstrates how ascribed analytical and administrative categorisations that designate professional ‘movers’ diverge from lived experience and self-identifications. A conceptual essay and three interconnected, but independent empirical studies demonstrate how post-structuralist methods, such as discourse analysis, evocative writing and non-representational interpretation, allow for new insights on mobile ways of belonging and becoming: normative, ascribed categorisations appear to be constitutive for the social creation of difference in ‘destination countries’; the collapse of the shared imaginary of mobility during the pandemic composes ephemeral and affective ways of belonging beyond traditional structures of the workplace; singular ‘moments’ of mobile lives that are narrated as ‘liberating’ or ‘revelatory’ allow to take a glimpse at the intensities of becoming on the move. By allowing for the pragmatist inquiry to evolve around the phenomena of mobility as such, the here-developed approach contributes not only to global mobility studies in the field of management and organisation, but also to the mobilities and migration nexus more broadly. Together, the four core elements of this thesis provide openings for theorising the ‘mobile self’ beyond monolithic identities and human capitalist logic.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages390
ISBN (Print)9788775682393
ISBN (Electronic)9788775682409
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024
SeriesPhD Series
Number04.2024
ISSN0906-6934

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