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Performing success: identifying strategies of self-presentation in women’s biographical narratives.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date05/2006
JournalDiscourse and Society
Number of pages27
Original languageEnglish


The biographies of eight highly professional women form the material for discussing how women live, understand, and ‘perform’ success. After identifying macro-topics related to success, the authors carry out an analysis of the women's discursive strategies of self-representation. They examine features that are indicative of suppression or backgrounding of social actors and, related to this, sources of ambivalence, activeness, and passiveness. The authors also describe the metaphors the women use for constructing specific event models, which serve to establish coherent self-representations and unique life trajectories. Four event models were identified, systematizing the narratives: symbiosis, self-made woman, creating one's space and work, as well as coincidence and luck. Finally, the article investigates the ways in which the women's stories reflect relevant aspects of the professional and organizational cultures they find, concluding that although all of them are cooperating and non-antagonistic, they build their own success stories in small but important ways.