Mental Illness, Social Suffering and Structural Antagonism in the Labour Process

Workplace conditions and experiences powerfully influence mental health and individuals experiencing mental illness, including the extent to which people experiencing mental ill-health are ‘disabled' by their work environments. This article explains how examination of the social suffering experienced in workplaces by people with mental illness could enhance understanding of the inter-relationships between mental health and workplace conditions, including experiences and characteristics of the overarching labour process. It examines how workplace perceptions and narratives around mental illness act as discursive resources to influence the social realities of people with mental ill-health. It applies Labour Process Theory to highlight how such discursive resources could be used by workers and employers to influence the power, agency and control in workplace environments and the labour process, and the implications such attempts might have for social suffering. It concludes with an agenda for future research exploring these issues.

Source: Woods, M., Macklin, R., Dawkins, S. et Martin, A. (2019). Work, Employment and Society.

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