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Temporary derailment or the end of the line? Managers coping with unemployment at 50

Temporary derailment or the end of the line? Managers coping with unemployment at 50

Gabriel, Yiannis, Gray, David E. ORCID: 0000-0002-3881-5083 and Goregaokar, Harshita (2010) Temporary derailment or the end of the line? Managers coping with unemployment at 50. Organization Studies, 31 (12). pp. 1687-1712. ISSN 0170-8406 (Print), 1741-3044 (Online) (doi:

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Based on fieldwork conducted at the outset of the 2008 economic downturn, this paper examines the experiences of a group of unemployed managers and professionals in their fifties. Following a review of existing literature, the authors use a narrative methodology to explore how these people incorporate the experience of job loss into their self-images and identities. They identify certain core similarities in the experiences of unemployed professionals and then discern three narrative strategies through which unemployed professionals tried to make sense of their dismissal and sustain their sense of selfhood. The term ‘narrative coping’ is proposed as a way of describing each unemployed professional’s struggle to construct a story that offers both meaning and consolation. The study reveals that individuals expressing the most profound despair (those for whom job loss was the ‘end of the line’) were those whose stories had achieved ‘closure’. By contrast, most of those who maintained more open-ended narratives were better able to contain their emotions, either by holding on to the belief that unemployment was a temporary career aberration or by abandoning the idea that life is the same as career and by moving on to a new stage of experimentation and bricolage akin to an identity moratorium.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: [1] First published online: 21 December 2010. [2] Published in print: December 2010. [3] Published as: Organization Studies, (2010), Vol. 31, (12), pp. 1687-1712.
Uncontrolled Keywords: job loss, unemployment, storytelling methodology, identity, career narratives, narrative coping, psychological trauma
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Work & Employment Research Unit (WERU)
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:23
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
Selected for REF2021: None

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