Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Eric M. Eisenberg


Community, Dialectical Theory, Diversity Paradox, Social Construction of Race, Tension-Centered Approach, White Normativity


In recent years, a sense of community has declined throughout the United States. Common Point Community Church has responded to this trend by prioritizing "community" as an organizational metaphor. The present study explores how this metaphor is co-constructed through the communication practices of current organizational leaders and members. I begin this process, first, by positioning the study within existing literature on institutional theory, institutional legitimacy, community, community of practice, social construction of race, sensemaking, organizational metaphor, tension-centered approach, and dialectic theory. Building upon more than three years of ethnographic field work, I then outline the study's context and methodology. Next, I discuss (a) specific ways in which "community" is understood by the organization's racially diverse leaders and members, (b) potential limitations that result from this metaphor, and (c) ways in which dialectical tensions are managed in order to maintain the organizational metaphor of community. I then offer three theoretical implications - collectively referred to as the diversity paradox - as well as three practical implications: (a) Common Point "Voices," (b) Congregational Videos, and (c) Creative Arts Team. I conclude by reflecting on the research process itself.