The Bored Self in Knowledge Work

Jana Costas, Dan Kärreman

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This article draws attention to reported experiences of boredom in knowledge work. Drawing on extensive qualitative data gathered at two management consultancy firms, we analyze these experiences as a particular interaction with identity regulation and work experiences. We conceptualize the reports of the bored self as a combination of unfilled aspirations and the sense of stagnation, leading to an arrested identity. Our contribution is to expand extant conceptualizations of employee interactions with identity regulation, in particular relating to identity work and identification. The findings provide a critical rendering of the glamourized image of knowledge work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-83
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number1
Early online date30 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Identity Regulation
  • Knowledge work
  • Boredom

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