This research project sought to find out more about how clergy experience
preparing to move jobs in the Church of England. This is important and timely
for several reasons. First, there has been limited theoretical and empirical
attention paid to the process and tasks of preparing for a career transition.
Second, clergy are contemplating job moves in a dynamic institutional context
which is affecting how they perceive and construct their future career trajectory.
Third, I set out to investigate clergy as members of a workforce facing some of
the same issues and concerns as those in other occupations rather than viewing
them as being in any way special by virtue of their ordained status. The study is
framed by career theories which attend to transition, turnover and the
determinants and antecedents of career and job mobility.
A total of 31 clergy from three Church of England dioceses were interviewed as
part of a qualitative study. A social constructivist method was adopted and
thematic analysis applied to the data with attention being paid to the reflexive
The findings indicate that a religious context is an important site for enhancing
our understanding of the complex relationship between individual agency,
structural constraints and the antecedents to preparing to move jobs. Following
structural changes to how clergy are recruited, selected and appointed to posts
participants are found to be experiencing cognitive dissonance as they anticipate
a move. This is explained by a shift in the delegation of authority to individual
clergy and the erosion of strategic ambiguity as a mode of communication
between different parties. These are changes which undermine value systems
rooted in history, tradition, custom and practice and calling which clergy rate
highly. The study identifies facets of calling and vocation which clergy correlate
with preparing to move jobs rather than an original call to ministry.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.