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

According to the psychodynamics of work, there is always a gap between prescribed work organization and real work organization, a gap that individuals seek to fill through their subjective investment in the production activity. In the context of university training, the prescribed work organization refers to the training requirements to which students are subject: progress prescribed in the curricula, programs, course contents, pedagogical methods, and evaluation methods. On the other hand, the real work organization corresponds to the strategies used by students to educate themselves in their own way and to deal with the constraints of the prescribed work organization, such as personal work methods, specific know-how, time management, studying tips, and types of collaboration. From the perspective of the psychodynamics of work, these strategies attest to the practical knowledge that is built up through action and contributes to individuals' identity construction. However, these strategies can sometimes become counterproductive. The group-based process helps us to explore the gap between prescribed and real work organization since it is in this gap that we find the actions allowing people to fulfil their obligations in a clever and resourceful way as well as the defence mechanisms against various sources of suffering. (p.196)


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


Psychological Centrality of Work

Links to Reference



How to contribute.