Bishop Spouse/Partner Research
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Bishop Spouse/Partner ResearchHouse of BishopsPhoenix, AZSeptember, 2010Therese Sprinkle, PhD Candidate Elaine Hollensbe, PhDDiscussion led by Woodi Sprinkel, LCSW
Bishop Spouse/Partner ProjectAgenda10:00Introductions10:05Research presentation10:35Q&A10:50Break11:00Small group discussion11:30Sharing of discussion groups
Bishop Spouse/Partner ProjectBroad Purpose of StudyTo provide a scientific perspective about the unique role of the Bishops spouse/partner in the Episcopal Church.To shed light on tactics spouse/partners use to manage multiple roles.To understand better how the role affects the spouse/partners identity and career.
Bishop Spouse/Partner Project
Three studies have informed our understanding of the bishop spouse/partner role in TES:Focus Groups 2 groups, 1 hour eachConducted with 2008 incoming class.In-depth Interviews1-hour, 30 in-depths. Conducted via telephone March October, 2008.Bishops and Bishop Spouse/Partner SurveyConducted in October-December, 2009.Open to total population of active bishops and spouse/partners
Overarching Theoretical FrameworkRole Adaptation/InnovationA role is the characteristic and expected social behavior of an individual; those behavioral or overt actions that may be observed. (Biddle, 1979). However, the degree to which the role is unstructured prompts members to seek information elsewhere and leads them to interpret the role as they wish (Jones, 1986; Kammeyer-Mueller & Wannberg, 2003; Michel, 1977; Saks & Ashforth, 1997).Role alterations may range from relatively minor changes to dramatic alterations of the role (Nicholson & West, 1988).
In the qualitative study, spouse/partners were asked to describe their role set.
Alongside parent and career and spouse roles you provided roles idiosyncratic to the bishop spouse/partner.
Your words helped to shape these definitions.
Role Categories and CharacteristicsSymbolSocialSupportStatusShadow
Role Categories and Characteristics:SymbolSymbolic: How others see you as standing for something outside of who you are, a witness, or for goodness
Its shocking the extent to which people love you simply because you are the bishop or the bishops spouse. You stand for this good thing in their mind and all you have to do is not disappoint that (IS-08).Object of hospitality: When describes being the focus of attention and fawned over as a guest of honor
My first surprise was being treated like royalty. I just never expected that to happen to be elevated to royalty by virtue of just being married to this person was a real surprise (IS-04).
Object of criticism: When describes having to deal with external criticism of self
You are subjected to a lot of things, and sometimes theyre hurtful, and I think you have to be able to understand that its not all about you, really, all the time (IS-12).
Role Categories and Characteristics:SocialWhen mentions entertaining, being a hostess; includes chit-chat at coffee hour
The skill that you have to have here is to try to relate to all kinds of people throughout the day, to be able to move in and out. See my (old career) did a lot for me and Im using all those skills in my husbands job (IS-12)
Thats a part of the spouse expectation to relate to the spouses in some way. (IS-10)
Role Categories and Characteristics:SupportPastoral: When describes role as someone who tends to clergy spouses, or the diocese at large.
My role is to make personal contact with parishioners when I am able to go with (bishop). My role is to support the clergy spouses (IS-18).Listener: When describes listening to the bishop, or other diocese members, as part of role
The spouse role, to me, has moved from supporting or being a part of a situation where the church itself is not hierarchical. And the spouse has become more of a listener (IS-09).Personal Assistant: Helping the bishop through chauffeuring, caring for vestments, etc
So when Ive gone with the bishop, Ive helped carry vestments and the stick, the crosier, help carrying that stuff inside. Ive always been a help. When Ive been there, Ive been a help. (IS-32).
Role Categories and Characteristics:StatusPublic: When describes visibility/image of role/played out in public or in a fishbowl
And the role of bishops wife being so public all of a sudden Im the honorary chair of like five different things and going to things, and people really listen to me (IS-02).Boosterism: When describes being asked to promote a cause for diocese member
So their expectation is that you will be nice to them and give them what they want. And if you have standards, if you enforce standards or you exact some kind of accountability, they're often quite angry with you, even if you're very measured in how you do that (IS-08).Spokesperson: When describes being a voice/conduit of bishop; relaying the bishops message or wishes
You have to be very careful of what you share with other people because theyre going to attribute that to the bishop even though it may not have anything to do with (him/her) (IS-12).
Role Categories and Characteristics:ShadowAppendage: When sees self or others see you as an inconvenience, unneeded part of bishop
if the spouse is there, fine. If the spouse is not there, well, that's all right too. It's an entirely different dynamic (IS-05).Invisible: When speaks of being ignored
Nonexistent. And that happens regardless of your job. I think the spouses are ignored a lot and it's not intentional (IS-03).Leveler: When speak of keeping bishops ego in check; also, keeping the bishop steady or on an even keel
Your first duty as a bishop spouse is to your bishop and its to keep him or her on a steady keel and to offer some respite from the hazards of the job, and to be a safe person and provide a safe place for them to refuel because its exhausting. (IS-26).
Accuracy of role definition
Object of Hospitality (Symbol)
Social Manager (Social)
Difference Maker (Symbol)
Personal Assistant (Support)On a scale from 1-7, these roles were found to be more accurate in their depiction of the bishop spouse/ partner role definitionAccuracy of the roles
Spouse/partners indicated that these roles were less accurate.Accuracy of the rolesPublic Speaker (Status)
Object of Criticism (Symbol)
As a spouse/partner gains tenure in the position, certain role types may become less a part of the role particularly Status and Symbol roles.Listener Visitor ObjectOf Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/OrganizerSymbolic Public Difference Maker Celebrity Personal AssistantAccuracy of the rolesSpouses 0-4 YearSpouses 5-10 yearsSpouses 11+ years
Importance of role
Several roles, considered accurate, were not important particularly Status and Symbol roles. Listener Visitor LevelerImportantAccurate Convener/Organizer ObjectOf HospitalitySymbolic Public Difference Maker Celebrity Personal Assistant Social ManagerAccurate vs. important comparison
Spouse/partners are in agreement as to the most important roles - with the two exceptions.Listener Visitor ObjectOf Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/OrganizerRole importance tenure comparisonSymbolic Public Difference Maker Celebrity Personal AssistantSpouses 0-4 YearSpouses 5-10 yearsSpouses 11+ years
Perception of bishops
There is a disparity between bishops and spouse/partner on accuracy.BishopsSpouses
Additionally, bishops do not share the same perception of role importance as spouse/partners. BishopsSpousesListener Visitor ObjectOf Hospitality Social Manager Leveler Convener/OrganizerRole importance comparisonSymbolic Public Difference Maker Celebrity Personal Assistant
In interviews, spouse/partners suggested that the role expectations did not align with their personality due to:Children, jobsDesire for a low-profile
When asked if the role was who they are vs. what they did, most felt the role was a hybrid of these choices.
This perception of who I am versus what I do is in stark - but not unexpected - contrast with the bishops perception.
What I doA hybrid of bothWho I amWhat I doA hybrid of bothWho I amBishopsSpouse/Partners
This perception of role (what I do) versus identity (who I am) varies by tenure. What I doA hybrid of bothWho I amWhat I doA hybrid of bothWho I am
Most spouse/partners agree that they have adapted the role to suit who they are. Adapted self to roleAdapted role to selfHybridAdapted self to roleAdapted role to selfHybrid
Spouse/partners suggest there are five types of strategies used to manage the role:Looking Out to Manage InCreate Own PathRole EngagementManage Self to FitDistance Self from Role
To distance self from roleLooking Out to Manage InCreate Own PathRole EngagementManage Self to FitDistance Self From RoleDelegate parts of my role to othersAvoid or distance myself from the role Seek help through therapy/counseling
Managing self to fitRole EngagementManage Self to FitManage physical appearance to better fit roleManage my emotions to better fit roleListen to Bishops advice about my roleLooking Out to Manage InCreate Own pathDi