School of Communication and the Arts


Doctor of Philosophy in Communication (PhD)


Jessica Ptomey


online communication, culture, community, symbolic convergence theory, Christian, nonprofit, organization




Communication patterns and techniques have been changed by the continuous evolution of online technology. Research has found that online communities may unify through a myriad of communication techniques. To date, however, there is limited research over the online communication patterns of faith-based organizations, particularly faith-based nonprofits that operate separately from traditional religious bodies. The purpose of this case study was to develop a deeper understanding of how communication presents itself online and thus develops culture within a Christian nonprofit organization. This qualitative case study analyzed the Rabbit Room organization and its online artifacts from November 1, 2021 through April 30, 2022 through the framework of Bormann’s symbolic convergence theory. The overarching research question of this study sought how online communication encouraged the creation and maintenance of a particular culture within a Christian nonprofit organization through fantasy themes and rhetorical vision(s). Online content was collected, coded, and analyzed in search of fantasy themes and any resulting rhetorical vision(s) that would indicate the cultural norms of the organization. The study identified three fantasy themes within the organization’s communication and one larger rhetorical vision, each playing a prominent role in the creation and maintenance of the group’s culture. The research findings demonstrated how consistent theming can unify otherwise diverse audiences, encouraging active participation in the maintenance of a group’s established culture.

Included in

Communication Commons