Accepted Paper:

Listening to French workers's suffering: how to pacify the crisis in labour management  
Samuel Leze (ENS Lyon)

Paper short abstract:

The theme "suffering in the workplace" has become a political issue following a spate of suicides in France Telecom in 2009. The aim of my paper written from the perspective of political anthropology is to analyze what is at stake in the crisis management of French workers' mental health.

Paper long abstract:

France is now facing a social transition that disrupts the organization of labor and economy: this is done via the so called "French exception". The theme "suffering in the workplace" has become a political issue following a spate of suicides in France Telecom in 2009 (32 for two years by December 2009). The "value of work" campaign theme of the current French president was suddenly threatened.

The aim of my paper written from the perspective of political anthropology is to analyze what is at stake in the crisis management of French workers' mental health. Based on a multi-sited ethnography where psychiatrists are implicated, I study a number of proposed solutions to the problem: tools designed to implement mental health expertise, emergence of the concept of psychosocial risk within French companies, techniques elaborated to overcome employees' "psychological resistance" to transfer and helping them "mourn" the parting from the old work organization, and the paradoxical way in which the problem has been demedicalized by the Department of Labor.

Panel W123
Ambiguous states of mind and crises in their management: imaginative approaches to the self and emotions in four postindustrial societies