The Spiritual Disciplines of Contemporary Business Management at Seeing Things Whole: The Lived Metaphors of Shape-Shifting Capital
Gonzalez, George J.
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CitationGonzalez, George J. 2011. The Spiritual Disciplines of Contemporary Business Management at Seeing Things Whole: The Lived Metaphors of Shape-Shifting Capital. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractThis dissertation applies a phenomenological and existential ethnographic method to encounter and engage the formal theology and ritual practices of one group of workplace reformers that is comprised of business leaders, organizational managers, lay Christian leaders and, management academics. The group, Seeing Things Whole, has deep historical roots in both organizational management and American Christianity. Seeing Things Wholeruns workshops for managers, has published a theology of institutions and, engages in ritualized group meditations on sacred, humanistic and scientific texts and images in hopesof producing and generating spiritually inspired solutions to concrete, organizational quandaries. In its work and in its theoretical reflections, the group shares in larger national and international trends to formally introduce spirituality into workplace practices and into organizational theory. Utilizing a mixed approach that includes participant-observation, formal interviews and rhetorical analysis, I carefully consider metaphorical deployment as a way to gain some analytical purchase over broader epistemic shifts and changes in the public construction of the spiritual , organic and holistic capital of today's knowledge and service economy. As themes, spirituality , holism and organicism are championed by the self styled spiritual reformers of new capitalism and contrasted to the mechanistic capital of twentieth century Fordist industrialism that they understand to be a pervasive condition of American capitalism that must be overcome. While flagging certain metaphorical combinations as evidence of shared, publicly accessible patterns of intersubjective experience , I foreground the idiosyncratic and irreducible dimensions of workplace spirituality by narrating the highly personalized ways in which shared metaphors are actually used in practice and in everyday speech by individuals. I do so in an effort to track the personal stories that necessarily fuel any large-scale change in the public narratives of capitalism and its metaphorical shape and form. I resist the extreme views that spirituality is either a moral elixir or an oppressive opiate and stress the inherent ambiguities of the discourse. Finally, I consider the continued relevance of Marxian critical theories for the study of contemporary capitalist spirituality.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367440