Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Human Communications

First Advisor

Bernadette M. Calafell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Roy Wood

Third Advisor

Christina Foust

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Martinez


Identity, Narrative, Tiawan, Commercial pilots


This dissertation project explored professionalism and the performance of identities by examining Taiwanese commercial airline pilots' discursive practices in everyday life. The intentions for this project were to not only expand current knowledge of organizational communication from a critical rhetorical perspective, but to further explore the under-appreciated concept of professionalism of organizational members. Theoretically, I traced theoretical analysis in the sociology of professions and further investigated scholarship from identity research in organizational communication studies. This research agenda helped to advance communication-based understandings of the meanings and practices of professional identity as a complement to the sociological conception. I further merged a performance paradigm and critical rhetorical perspective to examine the discursive practices of organizational members and to challenge the bias of traditional textual approaches. Methodologically, I conducted ethnographic interviews with Taiwanese commercial airline pilots in order to understand how they construct their personal, social, and professional identities. Five narrative themes were identified and demonstrated in this project: (1) It takes a lot to become a commercial airline pilot, (2) Being a professional commercial airline pilot is to build up sufficient knowledge, beyond average skill, and correct attitude, (3) Pilots' resistance and dissent toward company management, (4) Popular (re)presentation influences professionalism, (5) Power and fear affect professionalism. Pilots' personal narratives were presented in performative writing and in poetic transcription to make word alive with sounds featuring their meanings. Their personal storytelling created a dialogic space to not only let pilots' voice to be heard but also revealed how identities are created within and against a larger organizational identity. Overall, this project demonstrated the interdisciplinary examination of the meanings, functions, and consequence of discursive practices in everyday professional life. It also critiqued relationships between power, domination, and resistance while reintroducing the roles of the body and materiality in the domain of professionalism, and provides ethical readings of larger and complex organizational cultures. Applying communication-oriented analysis to study professionalism indeed challenged the long time neglected phenomena regarding the power of the symbolic in sociological approaches and raised the awareness of structural, material, and bodily condition of work.

Publication Statement

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


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Kai-chun Chuang

File size

201 p.

File format






Included in

Communication Commons