Graduate Program

Communication Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Elizabeth Gill

Thesis Committee Member

Shirley Bell

Thesis Committee Member

Angela S. Jacobs


This study uses the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) to examine the spiritual stories of six people who were not raised Catholic, but joined the Catholic faith as adults. The participants' experiences reveal that their spiritual identities have both personal and communal aspects and that they view their identities as both fixed and changing. Additionally, when communicating their spiritualities to others these individuals must balance relationship concerns with the desire to express their spiritual identities. Applying CMM's hierarchy of meaning to the data shows that the levels work together in shaping the participants' understandings of their identities. The participants' relationships and interactions (speech acts, episodes) with others led them to the realization that the Catholic faith (construction system) "fit" their personal identity (life-script) and/or to the realization that they wanted to incorporate the Catholic faith (construction system) into their personal identity (life-script). The research supports the notion that the internal and external aspects of identity are highly interdependent.