Constituting the Healthy Employee? Governing gendered subjects in workplace health promotion

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet

Sammanfattning: With a post-structural approach and an analytical focus on processes of governmentality and biopower, this study is concerned with how discourses of health are contextualized in educational practice and interaction between educators and participants in workplace health promotion (WHP) interventions. Of concern are issues of the discursive production, regulation and representation of power, knowledge and subjects as gendered beings in workplace health promotion interventions. The methods for generating data are participant observation, interviews and gathering of documentation pertaining to four different workplace health promotion interventions. Based on these data, the thesis offers an analysis of the health discourses drawn on in the interventions and the technologies of power and of the self by which the participants are governed and invited to govern themselves in the name of health. It also asks what practices and positions that thus come to be made available or not to the participants. Two health discourses are identified: the biomedical discourse and the wellness discourse. Both discourses are drawn on in all four studied interventions, the biomedical discourse being the dominating discourse drawn on. The biomedical discourse is informed by scientific ‘facts’ and statistics and is underpinned by a notion of risk. The wellness discourse is informed by an understanding of health as a subjective embodied experience and is underpinned by a notion of pleasure. Drawing on these discourses, the responsibility for health is placed with the participants and the healthy participant/employee is constituted as a rationally motivated risk-avoider and disciplined pleasure seeker who is both willing and able to actively make ‘good’ choices regarding their lifestyle. Furthermore, and informed by essentialist and heteronormative ideas about gender, the ideal healthy person is modelled on a male norm, representing women as the deviant Other.

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