This contribution goes back to a study of the formative power of identity norms in professional fields of occupation (fine arts and politics). In this article, we focus on the understanding of identity norms that members of the German Bundestag have to meet and/or to cope with. Thus, our research question is which demands professional politicians encounter and which ways of dealing with them are established. Operating at the intersection of governmentality studies, subjectivation analysis and qualitative inquiry, and based on narrative interviews with MPs, this paper demonstrates how in the field of German politics (at federal level) the MPs orientate their professional praxis towards the identity norm of an authentic self and conform to the expectation of a contradiction-free relationship between professional and private lives. In the process, the MPs develop idealizations of their selves in which aspects of their habitus become reflexive. We especially discuss these results against the backdrop of the emergence of modern parliaments and, methodologically, regarding the relation between habitual-implicit and reflexive-explicit structures of knowledge which are especially relevant in subjectivation analysis.


Authenticity, Identity Norms, Subjectivation, Self-Idealization, MPs, Representation, Qualitative Research, Documentary Method

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Alexander Geimer; *1977; 2012-2018: junior professor for sociology at the University of Hamburg (Germany); since 2018: scientific staff member at the Humboldt University of Berlin, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Studies. Focus areas: Theory and methodology of qualitative research, sociology of knowledge, cultural studies, media studies, subjectivation analysis, gender studies, disability studies. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: awfgeimer@gmail.com.

Dr. Steffen Amling, *1977; scientific staff member at the Helmut-Schmidt-University of Hamburg. Focus areas: Contexts and conditions of learning and education (Bildung), studies of processes of professionalization, pedagogical inquiry on organizations, theory and methodology of qualitative research. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: amlings@hsu-hh.de.


We'd like to thank the DFG (German research foundation) for the funding of the project "Aporias of subjectivation. On the appropriation and negotiation of hegemonic subject types by means of an advancement of the documentary method at the example of professional socialization in professional politics and fine arts".

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