Towards a spatial understanding of identity play: coworking spaces as playgrounds for identity

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Based on thirty interviews conducted in ten coworking spaces in Amsterdam and Paris, we ask whether and how members of coworking spaces engage in identity play, and what mechanisms related to space seem to enable such identity play. We identify four types of spatial mechanisms members and hosts of coworking spaces claim to create or engage in, and show how these relate to experimentation with professional identity. In so doing, we highlight possible material and spatial aspects of identity play. This paper contributes to the literature on identity play by drawing attention to the physicality and constitutive nature of the holding spaces necessary for identity play, and to research on coworking spaces by drawing attention to their possible identity effects.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)448-470
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 03.09.2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) [grant number 407-12-008]. The authors sincerely thank Eliel Markman for his indispensable contributions to earlier versions of the paper, as well as his involvement in data collection and data analysis. Without him, this paper would not have existed.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

    Research areas

  • coworking, coworking spaces, holding environments, Identity play, organizational space
  • Management studies