Self-transcendence and meaningful work

Adrian Madden, Catherine Bailey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Self-transcendence is a concept often evoked in different approaches to meaningful work, but which lacks clarity. This chapter considers how the subjective experience of meaningful work, centering on significance and purpose, gives rise to the idea of meaningfulness as the realization of human potential, by connecting the inner and the outer life along spiritual and social dimensions. It points to a conceptualization of self-transcendence that places greater emphasis on the intersubjective nature of meaningfulness. This raises questions such as: if meaningfulness is self-transcendent, where and how is meaning created? If transcendence denotes “beyondness” of the here and now, what does this mean in terms of the nature of work tasks and roles? If self-transcendence is an ineffable, transitory state, what might this mean for research into meaningful work? A shift in the emphasis of future research is necessary if we are to understand the self-transcendent nature of experienced meaningfulness.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Meaningful Work
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780198788232
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2019.


  • Alienation
  • Beyondness
  • Callings
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Self-transcendence
  • Significant work
  • Spirituality

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