Previous research conducted on the topic of workplace spirituality seems to indicate that
workers often associate spirituality in the workplace with their personal religious orientations.
This article, however, presents an alternative approach to the understanding of workplace
spirituality. In this article, the contemporary hospitality industry is presented as two
metaphorical stage worlds, a front-stage world and a back-stage world, where actors perform
the play of hospitality. Each of these worlds observes an ultimate concern: the workers of the
front-stage world observe an ultimate concern of unconditional hospitality and guest
satisfaction, whereas the workers of the back-stage world observe an ultimate concern of profit.
Because these two worlds have opposing ultimate concerns, the current spirituality of the
contemporary hospitality industry is one of dissonance and unhappiness. However, as this
article will show, there is a possibility for an alternative spirituality – a spirituality of hope and
endless possibilities. This spirituality will come to be through the life-giving words of the entire
community. The uniqueness of the front-stage world and the back-stage world lies in their
respective constructions. Some of the dominant elements that affect each of these worlds are
discussed in this article. It will also be shown that the language of religion plays a role in the
construction of reality. Understanding these elements is important, for only when hospitality
workers recognise the elements that influence the construction of the front-stage world and the
back-stage world will they be able to deconstruct and reconstruct these two worlds.
INTRADISCIPLINARY AND/OR INTERDISCIPLINARY IMPLICATIONS : This article presents empirical
research on the spirituality of the contemporary hospitality industry. The results indicate
that the current spirituality of the hospitality industry is a spirituality of dissonance and
unhappiness. This research presents the prospect of a new spirituality, a spirituality of hope
and endless possibilities.
This article represents a reworked version of aspects from the Ph.D. thesis of Crystal Meletiou, titled Spirituality in contemporary
hospitality: A practical theological approach, in the Department of Practical Theology, University of Pretoria, with Prof. Dr Johann-
Albrecht Meylahn as promoter.