Positive Identity Construction: Insights from Classical and Contemporary Theoretical Perspectives

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This chapter develops a more comprehensive theory of positive identity construction by explicating proposed mechanisms for constructing and sustaining positive individual identities. The chapter offers a broad, illustrative sampling of mechanisms for positive identity construction that are grounded in various theoretical traditions within identity scholarship. Four classical theories of identity—social identity theory, identity theory, narrative-as-identity, and identity work—offer perspectives on the impetus and mechanisms for positive identity construction. The Dutton et al. (2010) typology of positive identity is revisited to highlight those sources of positivity that each classical theory explains how to enhance. As a next step in research, positive organizational scholarship (POS) scholars and identity scholars are encouraged to examine the conditions under which increasing the positivity of an identity is associated with generative social outcomes (e.g., engaging in prosocial practices, being invested in others’ positive identity development, and deepening mutual understanding of the complex, multifaceted nature of identity).


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© Oxford University Press. Final version published as: Roberts, L. M., & Creary, S. J. (2011). Positive identity construction: Insights from classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives. In G. M. Spreitzer & K. S. Cameron (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of positive organizational scholarship (pp.70-83). New York: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199734610.013.0006
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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