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Competing discourses of workplace health

[journal article]

Allender, Steven; Colquhoun, Derek; Kelly, Peter

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Abstract This article presents an analysis of workplace health programme discourses within an international information technology company. Discourse refers to a system of statements that share a common force and coherence and which are socially constitutive. The representation of entities such as workplace health can be subject to competition between discourses. A critical discourse analysis was undertaken on semi-structured interviews, participant observation and workplace health programme documents. Two competing discourses were identified: health as safety and health as lifestyle. Each discourse is described and shown to both implicitly and explicitly define health within this particular workplace. Lifestyle discourse encouraged moves towards linking of the employees' working and private lives while safety discourse defined health in the relationship between workers and their physical environment. Competition between discourses both constricts and opens spaces for alternative understandings of health in the workplace. The implications of this competition for workplace health policy and practice are discussed.
Classification Medical Sociology; Working Conditions
Free Keywords critical discourse analysis; discourse; lifestyle; occupational health; safety
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 75-93
Journal Health, 10 (2006) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)