Identity work and the `unemployed' worker: Age, disability and the lived experience of the older unemployed

Kathleen Riach, Wendy Loretto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


This article seeks to explore how older individuals negotiate and manage their self-identity in relation to work while situated without paid employment. After reviewing the current positions of the older unemployed in the UK, noting the substantial overlap between age and disability, we turn our attention to conceptualizing the lived experiences of individuals through exploring identity work as a means of understanding a non-working work identity. Based upon focus group interviews, our empirical analysis focuses on key dimensions of participants identity practice and how they sought to manage the following social processes: imposed identities; crafting working identities; and contesting unfavourable working identities.The conclusion contextualizes the findings against a backdrop of increasing individualistic discourses underpinning approaches to employability, closes with the policy implications arising from this study, and makes suggestions for future research agendas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102 - 119
Number of pages18
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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