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Handbook of Stress in the Occupations

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox and Cary Cooper

The Handbook of Stress in the Occupations sets a new agenda for stress research and gives fresh impetus to scholars who wish to focus on issues and problems associated with specific jobs, some of which have received little attention in the past.
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Chapter 24: Work and Rumination

Mark Cropley and Fred R.H. Zijlstra


Mark Cropley and Fred R.H. Zijlstra INTRODUCTION The topic of recovery from the demands of work has received considerable attention over recent years. In fact it is now well recognized that people need to recover from the strains of work. The relevance of ‘recovery’ from work has increased over the last decade, which can be largely attributed to management practices that have led to an intensification of work. In many occupations the demands are primarily of a cognitive nature (i.e. responsibility, information processing and so on). As a consequence, approximately half of the working population complains about ‘work pressure’ (Paoli & Merllié, 2001). This chapter aims to focus on the cognitive aspects of work and its relationship with recovery. It will be argued that, since the cognitive demands are dominant, ‘thinking of work’ is one of the main determinants for (absence of or delayed) recovery. In order to make this point we shall start with a brief historic overview. HISTORIC PERSPECTIVE Over the last centuries the organization of work has changed considerably. The starting point for this, it could be argued, was Adam Smith and his treatise On the Wealth of Nations (1776). This triggered thinking about optimizing the ordering of society and, in particular, about ways work should be divided. Around that time people worked and lived in small communities, and their workplace was in and around their house. People worked as farmers/craftsman and were mostly self-supporting. Smith argued that people should specialize, and exchange goods they produce. With specialization,...

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