‘If You Stand for Nothing, You Will Fall for Anything’: The management of self-identity in times of change

Peter Wolstencroft

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The self-identity of managers within English post compulsory education has been the subject of much debate. A combination of a highly volatile sector and a job made up of a myriad of different parts means that the role involves a number of competing pressures which can leave managers feeling isolated, confused and adrift from previous certainties. Many managers speak of ‘putting on an act’ or hiding their true thoughts from those around them at work (Fried-Buchalter, 1997).
Using the work of Goffman (1959), Ecclestone (2007) and Bimrose and Brown (2010), this paper explores the self-identity of a group of twenty managers in the sector who have made the transition from lecturer to manager. Using semi-structured questionnaires and a thematic analysis of results, the research concluded that many of the managers overcame the pressures of their new role by establishing a philosophical driver that could be defined as a set of values, beliefs and personal goals that influenced all decision made as a manager. Those managers who had a clearly defined philosophical driver appeared to cope far better with the role than those who lacked this support.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring Learning Contexts
Subtitle of host publicationImplications For Access, Learning Careers And Identities
EditorsBarbara Merrill, Adrianna Nizinska, Andrea Galimberti, Jérôme Eneau, Elzbieta Sanojca, Samira Bezzari
Place of PublicationRennes
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-9564498-0-5
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2019


  • self-Identity
  • philosophical driver
  • manager
  • post-compulsory ed tion
  • transition


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