Arbete i motvind : Relationella och emotionella processer i arbetslivet och under sjukskrivning

Sammanfattning: This exploratory compilation thesis of four sub studies in Social Work aims to qualitatively examine how employees are affected by organisational changes and other work-related processes, and also to increase understanding of the causes of sick leave and being on sick leave through analysing the experiences of people from different professional backgrounds. Against the background of the labour market and social policy changes introduced at the beginning of the 1990s, these are urgent issues to address, particularly since there is a lack of qualitative studies linking work environment to mental health and sick leave, from the perspective of the employee. The focus of this doctoral thesis is on the relational and emotional processes involved.The empirical material consists of qualitative interviews with assistant nurses and care assistants in municipal home care services for the elderly, and with individuals of different professional backgrounds who were on long-term sick leave with stress-related diagnosis.  To understand the central contribution of the thesis – working in an uphill struggle – as something beyond the individual experience, the structures framing the individual must be included in the analysis. The feeling of working in an uphill struggle arises in the process of having to work against personal conviction and harbouring conflicting emotions when institutional and structural conditions for gainful employment and health insurance have changed for the worse, thus obstructing the opportunity to fulfil personal performance standards of quality and credibility. Conflicting feelings can lead to emotional dissonance, which unresolved may lead to illness and sick leave. The uphill struggle is manifested in various ways, as presented in the four sub studies.

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