Organizing for individuation: alternative organizing, politics and new identities

Organization theorists have predominantly studied identity and organizing within the managed work organization. This frames organization as a structure within which identity work occurs, often as a means of managerial control. In our paper our contribution is to develop the concept of individuation pursued through prefigurative practices within alternative organizing to reframe this relation. We combine recent scholarship on alternative organizations and new social movements to provide a theoretical grounding for an ethnographic study of the prefigurative organizing practices and related identity work of an alternative group in a UK city. We argue that in such groups, identity, organizing and politics become a purposeful set of integrated processes aimed at the creation of new forms of life in the here and now, thus organizing is politics is identity. Our study presents a number of challenges and possibilities to scholars of organization, enabling them to extend their understanding of organization and identity in the contemporary world.