‘I Feel You Should Eat Shit’: Picturing the Agency of the Misfit Self in the Workplace

  • Ting-Fang Chin
Part of the Gender, Sexualities and Culture in Asia book series (GSCA)


In Chap.  5 I examine my participants’ accounts with an enquiry into the mobilisation of agency and the construction of the social self. The examination is presented in two parts. I start with a discussion of my approach to theorising the social self. Through a reflexive reading of the work of G. H. Mead (Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist, University of Chicago, 1934), my own understanding of ‘the self’ as a conceptual tool in the context of Taiwan is proposed. In the second half of this chapter, the focus is on the construction of the social self in the process of negotiating gender. I examine the emerging social self in some of my participants’ accounts and argue that, while their adopted strategies may vary, there is one common element in their narratives: a constructed misfit self. I point out that the realisation and construction of this misfit self may play an important part in the mobilisation of agency and may, therefore, make negotiation possible.


  1. Adichie, C. N. (2009, July). Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story [Video file]. Retrieved September 24, 2016, from
  2. Chen, K., & Huang, D. [陳貴凰&黃穗華] (2011). 呷飽、呷好、呷巧、呷健康──臺灣辦桌菜單品項演變之研究 [Eat, Eat Well, Eat Cleverly, and Eat Healthfully: Study on the Development of Menu Items in Taiwanese Banto]. 餐旅暨觀光  [​Journal of Hospitality and Tourism], 8(2), 97–126.Google Scholar
  3. Elliott, A. (2008). Concepts of the Self (2nd ed., Rev. and Updated ed., Key Concepts). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998). What Is Agency? 1. American Journal of Sociology, 103(4), 962–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-face Behavior (1st Pantheon Books ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  7. Jackson, S. (2010). Self, Time and Narrative: Re-thinking the Contribution of G. H. Mead. Life Writing, 7(2), 123–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kessler, S. J., & McKenna, W. (1985). Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Lawler, S. (2008). Identity: Sociological Perspectives. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  10. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, Self and Society from the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  11. Narayan, U. (1998). Essence of Culture and a Sense of History: A Feminist Critique of Cultural Essentialism. Hypatia, 13(2), 86–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Plummer, K. (2001). Documents of Life 2: An Invitation to a Critical Humanism (2nd ed.). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Qi, X. (2011). Face: A Chinese Concept in a Global Sociology. Journal of Sociology, 47(3), 279–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Scott, S. (2005). The Red, Shaking Fool: Dramaturgical Dilemmas in Shyness. Symbolic Interaction, 28(1), 91–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Simmel, G. (1950). The Sociology of Georg Simmel (Translated from German by K. H. Wolff). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ting-Fang Chin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of YorkYorkUK

Personalised recommendations