This article examines two dominant theories about the contemporary relationship between identity and work — corrosion of character and reflexive modernization. Both of these models treat the experiences of men and women in the new capitalism as essentially the same. We examine this assumption in the light of our recent study of managers in large companies. Our survey data shows little difference between the career orientations and experiences of men and women. We then test this against the career narratives of 136 managers. Again, we find that men and women use the same ‘new capitalism’ narratives to describe their careers and work lives. However, whereas for men these narratives fit with their stories of domestic life, this is not the case for the women. Faced with a substantial disjunction between them, women generally reject one or other narrative identity. We argue that our findings highlight substantial theoretical flaws in both the corrosion of character and reflexive modernization models
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