For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"A Workplace Dignity Perspective on Resilience: Moving beyond Individualized Instrumentalization to Dignified Resilience"

by Bal, Matthijs; Kordowicz, Maria; Brookes, Andy; Others, (2020)


Resilience discourses in society and the contemporary workplace tend to emphasize the self directed nature of resilience and the imposed demand for resilience for survival in the contemporary labor market. In this article, the anchoring point of resilience is analyzed when conceptualized within a neoliberal and self-directed ideology. Subsequently, it offers an alternative anchoring point through a dignity-perspective on resilience, through which the term is reinterpreted in a new meaning.This article offers scholars, practitioners and policy-makers insights into how resilience can be conceptualized and used in practice. Analyzing resilience through a dignity lens provides new meanings and more effective uses of resilience in society and the contemporary workplaces.

Key Passage

Following a dignity logic, new meanings for resilience in the workplace can be generated. In contrast to a neoliberal anchoring, a dignity-perspective offers a number of key principles in relation to resilience at work. While resilience denotes the ability to bounce back from adversity at work, a dignity paradigm does not advance this concept as instrumental and as an individualized responsibility. In contrast, while dignity assumes intrinsic worth, it also denotes resilience as an important capability of human beings. As adversity is part of everyday life of every human being, it is indeed important to strengthen the resilience capabilities of each human being, whether they are in or out of employment. Perhaps it is the people without employment who are in even greater need of resilience, as paid employment may offer income and resources, which may be contributing to greater resilience (Mor-Barak, 1995). Hence, resilience is not merely instrumental to organizational performance, and thereby only of interest to organizations and government as it improves organizational functioning, but because resilience has important intrinsic attributes (Stewart, 2011). Therefore, resilience is important for people to live a dignified life, and to contribute to greater dignity in the workplace. Therefore, it is not just instrumental to organizations, but may contribute to a wide range of ‘outcomes’ which are relevant to individuals and collectives. (p.14)


Dignity, Empirical Research, Resilience, Social Theory


Organisation and Management Studies, Goods of Work

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