Accepted Paper:

has pdf download Mutuality and flexibility at work  


Grete Brorholt (Danish School of Education)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation argues that the demand for mutuality and flexibility among employees and managers is an indication of strongly individualised and capitalized forms of management, policy and practise. This development has consequences for the employee in her daily work life at the hospital.

Paper long abstract:

"Mutuality" and "flexibility" have turned into a favourite refrain for employees, management, policy and consultants, when they approach the concept of psychological working environment. "If they (the managers) do not do something for me, I will merely do the indispensable". I have heard this phrase expressed in various manners by individual employees during my fieldwork. It is a vague expression of sentiments towards the new forms of management (audit, npm, accountability, etc.) in the hospital. Few years ago the debate and practice regarding working environment was approached by organisations and institutions (unions, ngo┬┤s , fellowship, rules, law). Now it seems that the responsibility of working environment is internalised and perceived as an individual responsibility (healthy life stile, be happy at work, meditation, brain neurones, etc.).

Right through the material, I have gained by a multisided fieldwork by doing participant observation on a hospital ward, reading policy documents about working environment, observe public debates and interviewing employees and managers, the concept of mutuality is a premise practised and obliged by employees and management, which also calls for new social practices.

The presentation, which is based on my research regarding working environment at a public hospital argue, that the perception of "mutuality" among employees and management is one indication (among others) of strongly individualised and capitalized forms of management, policy, change, practise and obligations concerning "working environment" in a public hospital.

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Flexible capitalism: new forms of mutuality and diversity at work?