Staged performance

In her research Upadhya found that in the IT industry a very specific kind of personal performance is staged all the time because people have to mould to the Global Service Delivery model.

They have to develop ‘global’ communication skills to manifest themselves in a free innovative environment yet they operate in a highly controlled context where they are monitored all the time. They are witnessed and stage an identity to be witnessed with, yet the space in which they can take responsibility and be a witness themselves is very limited. This leads to a staging of professional identity that reflects an image, inspired by Silicon Valley models, of how a software engineer should be, and this deeply invades the self-reflection of the people involved as well. As a result, Upadhya argues, there is a great discrepancy between the actual practice and the self-image of the software engineers involved. However, people seem to resolve this by making a sharp distinction between professional and personal realms of life. Upadhya thinks that specifically in the Indian context this rupture is not problematic because traditional culture (enacted