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The competing discourses of workplace health

journal contribution
posted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Steven AllenderSteven Allender, D Colquhoun, Peter Kelly
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.

History

Journal

Health : an interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine

Volume

10

Issue

1

Pagination

75 - 93

Publisher

Sage

Location

Thousand Oaks, Calif.

ISSN

1363-4593

eISSN

1461-7196

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, SAGE Publications