Bourdieu, Strategy, and Identity Work: A Case from a Manufacturing Organisation in Sri Lanka


  • Nayomi De Peiris University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • K. A. S. P. Kaluarachchi University of Colombo, Sri Lanka



This empirical study aims to discuss how organisational actors' identity work is reflected through their strategy work, from a Bourdieusian perspective. The study is a case study which followed the qualitative research approach. The participants of the study were managers representing a cross-section of a manufacturing organisation in Sri Lanka.  Twenty-six semi-structured interviews were used for the generation of the data for thematic analysis. NVivo12 data management software was used for the data management and in initial coding. It was found that managers are engaged in different identity work for self during their strategy work, in the implementation of a new organisational strategy. Further, the behaviour and practices normalised in the selected organisation through managers' strategy work reflected their identity work for other/s in way of defining other/s. The discussion was based on the theory of practice by Pierre Bourdieu (1990). Accordingly, this research shows how the identity work of position takers (newly joined and promoted organisational actors) supports shaping the practices linked with a new strategy (strategy work). Further, their identity work reflected through strategy work is also connected with their individual dispositions (habitus). The discussion further shows how individuals’ capital—mainly their cultural capital—contribute to constructing a new strategy in the selected organisational field. As implications of this study, it highlighted the contribution of the position-takers in shaping the organisation's strategy (strategy work) while engaging in identity work for self and others. Consequently, this study illustrates how organisational actors perform different social-symbolic work (identity work and strategy work) in parallel.

 Keywords: Capital; Habitus, Identity work; Social-symbolic work; Strategy work