For many Americans work plays a prominent role in the construction of one’s identity. However, experiencing job loss or unemployment disrupts a normal progress to living a successful life as outlined by the master narrative of the American Dream. In the present study I explore disruptions to personal identities and cultural narratives by conducting a narrative thematic analysis of stories told by unemployed individuals in online settings. The findings reveal five prominent identities including: (a) victim, (b) redeemed, (c) hopeless, (d) bitter, and (e) entitledanddumbfounded. The individuals performed these identities through telling stories of their disruptions that worked to reflect, construct, disrupt, and counter the master narrative of the American Dream. In this analysis I discuss avenues for exploring how constructions of individual identities disrupt cultural narratives, and the resulting implications for narrative theory.
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