‘For this I was made’: Conflict and calling in the role of a woman priest

Adrian Madden*, Catherine Bailey, Reverend Canon Jean Kerr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


There has been an increasing focus on ‘work as calling’ in recent years, but relatively few empirical sociological accounts that shed light on the experience of performing calling work. Although callings have generally been referred to as positive and fulfilling to the individual and as beneficial to society, researchers have also suggested there is a ‘dark side’ to calling, and have drawn attention to the potential conflicts and tensions inherent in the pursuit of calling, especially for women. This article explores these themes through the first-hand experiences of one woman who felt called to work as a priest. Her narrative illustrates how callings draw the individual irresistibly towards a particular line of work. It also shows how calling work can be both satisfying individually and beneficial to the wider community but, at the same time, involves sacrifice, compromise and a willingness to defer personal rewards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)866-874
Number of pages9
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number5
Early online date6 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

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