Brazilian White-Collar Employees’ Discourses of Meaningful Work and Calling

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Meaningful work, white-collar employees, purpose, calling, self-efficacy, brazil, middle-classes

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The search for meaningfulness in work is considered a human need, resulting in growing communication and interdisciplinary scholarship. However, most studies are quantitative and situated in Western, developed nations with different discourses and materialities based on whether studies focus on economically mainstream or marginal, but symbolically significant, occupations. Our study explores Brazilian white-collar employees' accounts of meaningful work. Three themes emerged from interview data: being competent, being an explorer, and being a builder of a better world. Participants cast meaningful work as tensional processes within and across themes, reflecting characteristics of Brazilian middle classes and globalized discourses. As participants aspired to meaningful work, they experienced dysfunctional and corrupt work cultures, toxic workplace relationships, and shifts in their worldviews that deflated their sense of meaningfulness, resulting in reported psychological distancing, emotional distress, and turnover intentions. We encourage organizational communication researchers to take up the 2009 MCQ call for further studies in Brazil.

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Management Communication Quarterly, in press