From Calling to Vision
Spiritual, Secular, and Gendered Notions
This chapter discusses the emergence of the idea of vocation and calling, and how it has been adapted to various economic circumstances. The idea of “calling” was split between spiritual, otherworldly dimensions and the material, workaday world. The midcentury corporate conformist—William Whyte's “organization man”—relied to a great extent on his domestic partner, who labored under the social phenomenon that Betty Friedan labelled “the feminine mystique”: the ghettoization of large numbers of educated, middle-class women in the role of domestic servants and caregivers. The emergence of an aesthetic dimension to augment the spiritual and therapeutic is first addressed, before a fuller consideration of the belabored self is presented. The aesthetic metaphor increasingly offered an alternative to the religious and theistic, and the emerging ideal of life as a work of art bridges the gap between the secular and the spiritual, while privileging the expressive over the instrumental, or utilitarian, dimension.
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