Dress and Identity: A Turkish Case Study
26 Pages Posted: 15 May 2003
This paper examines how dress can be implicated in contests regarding individual and organizational identities. Identities are understood as being constituted within discursive regimes, and to be subjectively available to people in the form of self-narratives. The pluralism and polyphony that characterize organizations means that collective self-narratives are likely to be fractured, contested and multi-layered. It is in this context that attire is an important object symbol that conveys information about the individual and collective self. Here we focus on aspects of dress, especially the Islamic headscarf, and its role in the dynamics of collective identity maintenance and challenge in one all-female Turkish university department. Our ethnographic approach yielded multiple, related and sometimes overlapping story lines centred on dress. These we have chosen to represent as a single though multi-voiced faculty narrative in order to facilitate analysis of what was a particularly rich symbolic milieu. The principal research contribution of this paper is as a discussion of participants' clothing in the constitution of individual and organizational narrative identities, and its importance for understanding the dynamics of identity conflicts.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation