Belonging at work: the experiences, representations and meanings of belonging.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournal of Workplace Learning. 2019, 31(2), 116-142 10.1108/JWL-06-2018-0081
Purpose This paper explores what belonging is through the represented experience of people at work. Our aim is to investigate employees’ interpretations of belonging at work and its interrelation with the material, aesthetic and emotional aspects associated to the where, the how, the when workplace is inhabited. Design/methodology/approach In line with the practice turn in social sciences, our study uses the visual method (snaplogs), which includes pictures and texts. Findings Belonging is situated in and integrated with social interactions, materiality, emotions and aesthetics. Belonging is about: 1) being part of something, 2) the process of becoming through constant mediation between material aspects and social components, 3) the process of experiencing boundaries and 4) the attempt to perform, engage and participate (and find spaces for shared practices) in a workplace. Together, they constitute the situatedness, the here and now, of experiences of belonging and the perceived interpretation of being one among equals across organizational boundaries. Research limitations Data were only collected at one point in time. We also relied on our own interpretations of pictures and texts and did not involve the informants in the analysis. Practical implications Being, becoming and belonging are comprised of material, social and affective dimensions. These dimensions should be addressed in order for employees to belong at work. Originality/value This study contributes to the belonging literature on perceived interpretations of what belonging is at work. The paper is also original in terms of the visual method used to grasp the practice representation of belonging experiences.