Positioning Work Amid Discontinuities and Continuities: Chinese Post80s Workers’ Dialogical Constructions of Meanings of Work

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meaning of work, dialogical construction, tensions, Chinese Post80s, constitutive approach, (dis)continuities

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This study explicated Post80s workers’ communicative constructions of work meanings guided by the dialogical self theory. Analyzing 33 in-depth interviews, we found Post80s workers constructed their work meanings regarding choice, development, and impact as they invoked individual and collective voices amid the discursive and material discontinuities and continuities of the emerging Chinese socio-economic landscape. Foregrounding meanings of work as dialogical co-constructions of different voices, the study unpacked the complex interplays of self–other, individual–collective processes, and past–present–future work values and experiences in the communicative constitutions of the Chinese paradigm shift of work. Theoretical contributions to meanings of work as tensional, dialogical constructions answer calls to more nuanced scholarly engagement with individual–organization–society problematics and generational cohorts locally and globally in organizational communication research.

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Management Communication Quarterly, v. 30, issue 4, p. 532-556