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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 2: Constructions of Occupational Stress: Nuisances, Nuances or Novelties?

Dianna Kenny and Dennis McIntyre


Dianna Kenny and Dennis McIntyre We should make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. (Albert Einstein) Overview The concept of stress is as elusive as it is pervasive. Discourses of stress in general and occupational stress in particular are so powerful that they are ‘seemingly written into and all over our daily lives’ (Newton, 1995, p. 1). But what is stress? Is it a stimulus or a response? Is it an objective, quantifiable, environmental demand or a subjective cognitive appraisal of environmental conditions? Is stress universal or personal? Does stress need ‘managing’ and, if so, is it a public responsibility or a private concern? In order to answer some of these questions, it is necessary to deconstruct the concept and find its core. This is no easy matter. Heisenberg (1958) reminds us that even ‘natural science does not simply describe and explain nature; it is part of the interplay between nature and ourselves; it describes nature as exposed to our method of questioning’. A construct like occupational stress has been shaped not only by our method of questioning, but by powerful political, cultural, social and economic forces in which work occurs and in which people respond to their work experiences. In this chapter, we will briefly review the major ways of constructing occupational stress, with particular focus on emergent issues, problematic areas, and less used paradigms, before attempting a synthesis of this difficult and complex field. Occupational stress was initially explained and managed within a...

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