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Work and health : remodelling perspectives of working life research, as proposed by Järvholm et al. (2009)
Järvholm and Co-workers (2009) proposed a conceptual model for research on working life. Models are powerful communication and decision tools. This model is strongly unidirectional and does not cover the mentioned interactions in the arguments.With help of a genealogy of work and of health it is shown that work and health are interactive and have to be analysed on the background of society.Key words: research model, work, health, occupational health, society, interaction, discussion paperRemodellierung der von Järvholm et al. (2009) vorgeschlagenen Forschungsperspektiven in Arbeit und GesundheitJärvholm und Kollegen stellten 2009 ein konzeptionelles Modell für die Forschung im Bereich Arbeit und Gesundheit vor. Modelle stellen kraftvolle Kommunikations- und Entscheidungsinstrumente dar. Die Einflussfaktoren im Modell verlaufen jedoch nur in einer Richtung und bilden die interaktiven Argumente im Text nicht ab. Mit Hilfe einer Genealogie der Begriffe Arbeit und Gesundheit wird aufgezeigt, dass Arbeit und Gesundheit sich gegenseitig beeinflussen und nur vor dem Hintergrund der jeweiligen gesellschaftlichen Kontextfaktoren zu analysieren sind.Introduction : After an interesting introduction about the objectives of research on working life, Järvholm and Co-workers (2009) manage to define a conceptual model for working life research out of a small survey of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) definitions. The strong point of their model is the entity 'working life' including personal development, as well as career paths and aging. Yet, the model Järvholm et al. (2009) propose is strangely unidirectional; the arrows point from the population to working life, from there to health and to disease, as well as to productivity and economic resources. The diagram only shows one feed-back loop: between economic resources and health. We all know that having a chronic disease condition influences work and working capacity. Economic resources have a strong influence on work, too. Having personal economic resources will influence the kind of work someone accepts and facilitate access to continuous professional education. A third observation is that society is not present in the model, although this is less the case in the arguments. In fact, there is an incomprehensible gap between the arguments brought forth by Järvholm and co-workers and their reductionist model.Switzerland has a very low coverage of occupational health specialists. Switzerland is a long way from fulfilling the WHO's recommendations on workers' access to OSH services as described in its Global plan of action. The Institute for Work and Health (IST) in Lausanne is the only organisation which covers the major domains of OSH research that are occupational medicine, occupational hygiene, ergonomic and psychosocial research. As the country's sole occupational health institution we are forced to reflect the objectives of working life research so as not to waste the scare resources available.I will set out below a much shortened genealogy of work and of health, with the aim of extending Järvholm et al's (2009) analyses on the perspectives of working life research in two directions. Firstly towards the interactive nature of work and health and the integration of society, and secondly towards the question of what working life means or where working life could be situated.Work, as we know it today - paid work regulated by a contract as the basis for sustaining life and as a base for social rights - was born in modern era. Therefore I will start my genealogy in the pre-modern era, focus on the important changes that occurred during industrial revolution and the modern era and end in 2010 taking into account the enormous transformations of the past 20-30 years. I will put aside some 810 years of advances in science and technology that have expanded the world's limits and human understanding, and restrict my genealogy to work and to health/body implicating also the societal realm. [Author]
Work , Health , Occupational Health
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