Exploring the limits of the pastoral profession


performance appraisal interview
boundary work
institutional theory

How to Cite

Sirris, S. (2023). Exploring the limits of the pastoral profession: Discursive boundary work in interactions between pastors and deans in the Church of Norway. Scandinavian Journal for Leadership and Theology, 10, 81–103. https://doi.org/10.53311/sjlt.v10.111


Two discourses frame the pastoral profession in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway: one is the professional, which emphasises religion, while the other is organisational and foregrounds management. This article explores interactions, between pastors and a dean, that are situated on the boundaries of these two discourses. From the theoretical perspective of institutional boundary work, I analyse a case study that highlights observational data, and in particular, meetings and performance appraisal interviews with pastors. The research question is as follows: How do interactions between pastors and deans serve as spaces for discursive boundary work by the pastoral profession? As the church aligns itself with modern work organisations, the findings show how the clergy construct themselves and their work by drawing on both discourses. This article discusses how pastoral work is perceived discursively as both a modern occupation and also a religious profession through efforts that can be described as competitive, collaborative and configurational boundary work. Interactions constitute a space where the actors work for, at and through these boundaries by negotiating their core work, relationships and theology.



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