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Title: Performing off the pitch : an investigation of identity management strategies of professional footballers as part of their career transition from the Premier League
Author: Hickey, Colm Patrick
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 7491
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2015
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With an ever-increasing proportion of the global labour force having to change careers following a forced or unplanned end to their previous means of employment, the manner in which we view the idea of a career has dramatically changed in the last ten years. However, career change has always been present in the world of English professional football. Both press and academic enquiry regularly address the different aspects of retirement for those players who have been fortunate enough to enjoy relatively long sporting careers. In contrast, little is offered regarding the majority of professional players who get released from former clubs and experience an unplanned and early career transition away from their footballing profession. This study is an investigation of the identity management strategies of professional footballers as part of their early career transition away from the English Premier League. Ten participants each took part in three individual vignette interviews (30 interviews). All participants had recently experienced their career transitions from their respective Premier League clubs. Additionally, single interviews were carried out with three Premier League Education and Welfare Officers. This study demonstrates how identity management and construction strategies can be understood through the working theoretical partnership of Goffman’s (1959) Dramaturgy and Marcus and Nurius’s Possible Selves (1986). This thesis illustrates the existence of multiple identities belonging to footballers, directly challenging the thematic positioning of past research that lays emphasis on the conception of an exclusive athletic identity. Players offer performances portraying these multiple identities: performances that are influenced by the presence of differing social audiences and a desire to attain positive future possible selves and equally avoid negative possible selves. The career transitions of study participants proved to be smoother when audiences legitimised these performances. Difficulty arises when performances portrayed by participants are not dramatically realised by their audiences or are not supported by the context of their cultural environment. The data within this study underscore the idea that there is more to footballers than their ability to kick a ball, and that when such a fact is both understood and recognised their journey though their career transition can be a positive one.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available