Identity, Self-Interpretation and Workplace Change: An Investigation of the Work Activity of Machining

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Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


The objective of this work was to study the development of identity in changing contexts. The site of study was machining work in the automotive industry. Machining is an economically critical activity undergoing rapid technological change, with the changes occurring within the working lives of individuals. The development of individuals was considered within the context of the culturally organized human activities in which they occurred. The informants were skilled machinists working for a major automotive company in the United States. A developmental perspective, based on cultural historical theory, together with C. S. Pierce's theory of sign generation, provided an explanatory framework for the development of identity as a self-regulatory higher psychological function.

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Journal of Adult Development