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The professionalization of stress management: Health and well-being as a professional duty of care?

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Workplace stress associated with ongoing processes of organizational change is a major occupational and public health concern. It is also a costly economic issue—both public and private. In this paper a framework will be used that draws on Michel Foucault's genealogies of the Self to suggest that the management of stress by professionals—in a workplace environment increasingly characterized by the practices of risk management—emerges as a key element of the choices and responsibilities that frame what it means to be professional. To be (a) professional means to be a person capable of making choices and accepting responsibilities that are framed by a duty of care to manage one's health and well-being to maximize organizational performance and effectiveness. The article will examine the ways in which transformations in the organization and practice of teachers' work have witnessed large numbers of teachers being seen, and seeing themselves, as stressed. These understandings of teacher stress have provoked a number of strategies designed to encourage individuals to take care of themselves—and to take care of themselves in ways that will make schools more effective. The authors are concerned with understanding the processes that are at work which make it possible to imagine that it is a professional duty of care to manage one's life in such a way as to be both balanced and effective in contexts of uncertainty and risk.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bowater School of Management and Marketing, Deakin University, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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