Organizations and Socialization: The Emergence of New Professional Identities

Graduate Research Grant
Grant Year

How do professional identities change over time? Dominant explanations focus on how professionals struggle for power and status, as well as on exogenous pressures from the government or educational institutions. These theories, however, obscure how organizational factors, such as the internal division of work, affect actors’ understanding of their professional role. In this project, I contribute to debates on organizations and professions by testing a new mechanism to explain changes in professional identities – organizational socialization – based on a study of public prosecutors in Brazil. Since Brazil’s transition to democracy in the 1980s, prosecutors, who were considered human rights advocates, have shifted their professional identity to anti-corruption crusaders. Receiving this grant will fund a six-week trip to Brazil, where I propose to conduct over 40 in-depth interviews in five different cities to examine why and how prosecutors shifted their professional identity.