Motives: Private Identity Preservation—Getting Caught and Getting Off

  • Jason Ditton


For salesmen at Wellbread’s, portfolio practice (character enactment) routinely satisfies practical and psychological ‘cover’ needs. Normally the part-time self remains psychologically partial, and can be taken for granted. However, the fiddling salesman faces a procedural dilemma: successful commerce requires the maintenance of routine and yet, on the other hand, fiddling is an intrinsically unprotected practice which constantly exposes the practitioner to the possibility of entrapment. The acid test of the part-time criminal is his ability to deal with the problematic threat of entrapment (and not just mundane everyday sales life) without psychological disintegration or encapsulation. Without a workable part-time self; fiddling would be impossible. If getting caught translates the part-time self into a full-time self; then fiddling would lose its crucial psychological meaning as ‘trifling’. How do the salesmen sustain their fiddling self as partial in the face of others’ attempts to promote that self to full-time status?


Sales Performance Public Cover Face Work Psychological Management Private Identity 
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© Jason Ditton 1977

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  • Jason Ditton

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