Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Human Communications

First Advisor

Christina R. Foust, Ph.D.


Calling, Meaningful work, Organizational communication, Organizational rhetoric, Qualitative, Spiritual communication


Communication researchers have much to gain and contribute by paying sustained attention to the implications, contributions, and consequences of the interpretation and (re)production of work as a calling. While work calling has been theoretically and quantitatively conceptualized in a number of disciplines, it remains lacking in evidence of how the lived experiences and sensemaking discourses of participants serve to (re)construct this concept. Thus, the current study is qualitatively guided by asking, how people from different professional domains communicate about their experiences of work as a calling. To begin, I assess the overarching themes related to work calling in the areas of organizational psychology, sociology, theology, and business. Second, I suggest that interweaving meaningful work, spiritual communication, and organizational rhetoric creates rich academic space for the study of work calling as a communicative concept. Third, using thematic analysis, I identify participant communication about work calling from twenty-nine interviews, informal observations, and artifact analysis. Three dominant themes emerged: (a) definitional markers, (b) inherent interaction, and (c) significant costs. The theme of definitional markers provides a conceptualizing basis for work calling, the theme of inherent interaction relates to the enactment of work calling, and the theme of significant costs describe potential consequences of this approach. From such discourse, work calling is revealed as a complex, constitutive, and contested term, providing promising avenues of research.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

K. Arianna Molloy

File size

267 p.

File format