For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Psychodynamics of Work: Action Research in an Academic Setting"

by Leclerc, Chantal; Maranda, Marie-France (2002)


This study on the psychodynamics of work was conducted with some 100 undergraduate students registered in 10 university programs. The main purpose was to analyze the students' relationship to their work organization in an economic context characterized by competition, job insecurity, and anxiety about the future. A number of collective defence mechanisms were identified. They are mainly reflected in silence, individualism, isolation and endurance.

Key Passage

The specific goal of the psychodynamics of work (Dejours, 2000) is to identify these defensive strategies, which are often collective, through group deliberation work. These strategies reflect a relatively structured and organized intentionality that finds its source in the organization of work, in this case, student work. Studies based on this approach that were conducted in different workplaces, for example, schools, health institutions, plants, and union organizations (Carpentier-Roy & Vezina, 2001) show that work organization can be both a source of health, when it is possible to strengthen the subject's identity, and a source of mental health pathologies, when it is impossible to change the difficult conditions of the work organization, for example, work load, work pace, schedules, and communication methods. In the case of university students' work organization, some of the results set out in this article show that silence, endurance and repression are but a few responses to a work organization that is most often associated with mass instruction.  (p.195)


The Psychodynamics Of Work, Academic Work, Job Insecurity, Anxiety, Uncertainty, Counselling, Psychoanalysis, Psychosocial


Psychological Centrality of Work

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