Balancing Mysterium and Onus: Doing Spiritual Work within an Emotion-Laden Organizational Context
This study uses the neo-Durkheimian conceptual framework of Mysterium and Onus to illustrate how spiritual work is used to accomplish emotional balance within emotion-laden organizational contexts. The constant emotional oscillations experienced by paramedics within an emergency services organization show how spiritual work is accomplished at the level of paramedic-patient interaction, emotional equilibrium within the self, and degrees of connectedness to the organization itself. We contend that in heavily emotion-laden organizational contexts where life-changing events are occurring, spiritual work is an important part of the emotional labor process. In turn, balancing emotions is a major part of `balancing' Mysterium (the sacred) and Onus (the profane). We conclude that emotion-laden organizations need to approach the practice of spirituality as an extremely sophisticated and complex phenomenon. While current trends towards `spiritualizing' the workplace through the legitimizing of corporate spiritualities may result in a more controlled and less enchanted workplace, spirituality may well remain as one of the few ways in which workers can practice resistance in a controlled work environment.
Organization: The interdisciplinary journal of organization, theory and society.
Copyright 2003 Sage Publications. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. First published in Organization: the interdisciplinary journal of organization, theory and society. This journal is available online: http://org.sagepub.com/content/vol10/issue2/