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Arbete och identitet: Om hur städare blir städare
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Work and identity : On how cleaners become cleaners (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines identity construction processes among contract cleaners. The analysis is based on the assumption that identity is about both being and becoming; identities are never given, but always subject to change. Social identity theory, according to which identity construction is a social categorisation process, is part of the theoretical framework,which also includes literature on organisation vs. task oriented identity and dirty work. Different theoretical perspectives are combined to give a nuanced understanding of identity construction processes.

The analysis is based on empirical material from one of the largest cleaning contractors in Sweden. Participant observations and interviews were the main methods used in this study. The results show that gender, technology, competence and time and space are significant aspects of the cleaners' identity contents. Gender is important in both the division of labour within the organisation, and the way it defines a good cleaner as having feminine characteristics. Technology and competence are not part of the general image of cleaning, but the contractor management are trying to change that. This results in ambiguous signals received by the cleaners. Time and space are significant as the cleaners are always under stress, and always in somebody else's space. To a large extent, the nature of the space also defines the nature of the cleaning work.

In terms of processes through which identities are constructed, the results show that social interactions and reconstructions of the work contents are of great importance. Many different groups are involved in the social interactions, both within and outside the organisation. Reconstructions of the work contents are actively used by the cleaners in order to reconstruct identities. Given the structures working against them, the cleaners usetheir agency to construct a space of action, although small. Their attempts to strengthen their identities often result in a strengthening of the power relations in which they are subordinated. However, the cleaners' actions can also bring about change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2001. , 234 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 229
Keyword [en]
Identity, work, organisation, cleaning, gender, technology, competence, time, space, interaction, practice, identity work, dirty work, women's work, service production, sub-contracting, occupation, qualification, professionality
Keyword [sv]
Städare, arbetsmarknad, yrkesroller, identitet, kvinnodiminerade yrken
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-34014Local ID: 20389ISBN: 91-7373-068-8OAI: diva2:254862
Public defence
2001-09-21, Hörsalen, Hus Key, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2016-05-04Bibliographically approved

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