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How does work shape our identity?


Call for papers

How does work shape our identity? 

A European seminar to explore how being in work, out of work or insecure about work, affects our ideas of who we are

Submission deadline: 6th June 2016 4th of July 2106 (extended deadline)


Work and employment are central concepts to who we are. But how exactly does work affect identity (and vice versa)? What happens to people’s identity if work changes, becomes insecure, lost or is difficult to find? And what are the potential consequences of that for the individual and their well-being? This small group meeting invites different perspectives to come together to further explore the relationship between work (in the broadest sense) and identity. 

When introduced to a new person, one of the first questions people at a certain age get asked is “So…What do you do for a living?” Indeed, work seems to be a central feature of defining ones place in society.  What is the young job seeker, the unemployed, the retired person to say to this question? How will they build this part of their identity without access to the employed work and its status providing function (Jahoda, 1982)? 

The identity defining aspect of work, although intuitively appealing, has only recently been recognised by Work and Organizational Psychology. The perception of “who one is”, whether that is conceptualised as personality (e.g., Woods, 2015), social identity (e.g.,  Ellemers, Haslam, Platow, Van Knippenberg, 2000), a “set of enduring interests or values”  (e.g., Sheldon & Elliot, 1999, p. 482) (to name but a few), has been related to well-being outcomes, attitudes and behaviour in a multitude of studies. Consequently we would expect that identity plays an important part in any work related changes, and might explain a number of work relevant outcomes. 

For this two day small group meeting we want to invite researchers, academics and creative thinkers to join us in sharing theoretical and research findings to shape the future directions of Work and

Organizational Psychology in this important area. We invite contributions in the form of short paper presentations in oral and poster format to enable further discussion and an exchange of ideas. 

Meeting Format, Dates and Location

This two days’ workshop will take place on Thursday 6th of October and Friday 7th of October 2016 from 10.30 until 4pm. We will have approximately 20 to 25 oral paper or facilitated poster presentations. Submission off a paper indicates a commitment on behalf of the participant to be present for the full duration of the small group meeting.

The meeting will take place at Halifax Hall in Sheffield. We reserved rooms at the conference venue for your convenience. Sheffield is a lively industrial-town-turned-student-city located in the North of England at the edge of the Peak District national park. To learn how to get to us please click here

Submission of Papers

An abstract and outline of the paper (max 2.500 words) should be submitted to Eva Selenko ( before June 6th 2016. After the review process, each author will be notified about the acceptance of the submitted abstract by July 31st 2016. Papers will be made available to all participants before the small group meeting takes place.


A participant fee of 100€ (50€ low income countries/students) will be asked of delegates to cover keynote speakers and up to three grants covering participation and travel for scholars from low income countries/students. 

Publication of Papers

The outcome of the meeting, i.e. the discussion on the future research agenda, will appear in the form of a position paper which will be submitted for publication to the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology and the organizers will look for opportunities to publish a selection of the papers as a special issue of an academic journal.

Organizing Committee

Angela Carter, Emma Parry, & Eva Selenko

Institute of Work Psychology

Sheffield University Management School

Conduit Road


S10 1FL

United Kingdom


Please contact  Kelly Walker of Sheffield University Management School’s event team for all your questions relating to this event