Managing fat bodies: Identity regulation between public and private domains


  • Nanna Mik-Meyer Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School


obesity, governmentality, identity, risk, health, organization


This paper analyzes the relationship between public and

private domains in contemporary Danish organizations

by examining their increasing focus on the personal

health situation of employees, and, more specifically,

their body weight. This paper combines literature on

identity and management with governmentality-inspired

research on risk, morality and the body. The aim of this

paper is to show that overweight people are perceived as

“risk identities”, i.e. problem people who automatically

call for personal management. The author demonstrates

that besides the unintended effect of categorizing overweight

employees as problem people, this management

goal also run counter to the declared value regarding

respect for diversity in contemporary organizations.

Based on in-depth interviews with managers and recorded

talks between health consultants and overweight

employees, this paper emphasizes processes that

subordinate employees and restrict their autonomy.


How to Cite

Mik-Meyer, N. (2008). Managing fat bodies: Identity regulation between public and private domains. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 10(2), 20–35. Retrieved from