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Neo-Platonic dualism to postmodern fragmentation? A narrative inquiry into construction and expression of self-identity in lay Christians in a contemporary secular workplace

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posted on 2023-08-30, 13:56 authored by Diana Garfield
This research is concerned with the construction and expression of selfidentity in a sample of lay Christians working in a contemporary workplace. It seeks to understand how these believers construct and sustain, in and through autobiographical narrative, a faith-full self-identity at work. It is inspired by my own experience as a Christian believer in a secular workplace. The results of the study contribute to the discipline of practical theology in the specific area of understanding autobiographical construction of Christian self-identity. Although the study takes an overt Christian theological stance, it draws not only from the theory of autobiographical narrative in theology, but also from corresponding theory in philosophy, sociology and psychology. In particular the research draws on the Confessions of St. Augustine (c AD 400), using this patristic text as a benchmark expression of Christian selfidentity. Augustine’s neo-platonic thinking informs the central research question which asks whether fragmentation of self-identity is experienced by Christians in the challenging environment of the present-day workplace. Narrative is both phenomenon under study and research methodology. It is a particularly appropriate means by which to study faith identity. The concept is a fluid one and narrative inquiry is more concerned with establishing meaning and significance than facts and truth. The research resides within a constructivist paradigm and acknowledges that the findings are limited and specific. The findings suggest that fragmentation of self-identity is experienced by the research actors in work/faith tensions. However, these believers move through a process of growing self-awareness and awareness of God’s action in their lives as they construct personal work/life narratives. The research findings explore this process of self-identity construction and offer conclusions about the discovery of a sense of deep self-identity amidst the experience of fragmentation.



Anglia Ruskin University

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