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'Managing' Stress

'Managing' Stress
Emotion and Power at Work

January 1995 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This volume provides a thought-provoking and timely alternative to prevailing approaches to stress at work. These invariably present stress as a 'fact of modern life' and assume it is the individual who must take primary responsibility for his or her capacity - or incapacity - to cope.

This book, by contrast, sets stress at work in the context of wider debates about emotion, subjectivity and power in organizations, viewing it as an emotional product of the social and political features of work and organizational life.

Tim Newton analyzes the historical development of the dominant `stress discourse' in modern psychology and elsewhere. Drawing on a range of perspectives - from labour process theory to the work of Foucault and Elias - he explores other possible ways of understanding stress at work. He offers a cogent critique of the typical stress management interventions in organizations through which employees are supposed to increase their effectiveness and become `stress-fit'. With contributions from two colleagues, he explores various ways of `rewriting' stress at work. Together they emphasize the gendered nature of stress, the collective production and reproduction of stressful work experiences, and the relation of stress to issues of emotion management and control in organizations.

Agency, Subjectivity and the Stress Discourse

Knowing Stress
From Eugenics to Work Reform

Retheorizing Stress and Emotion
Labour Process Theory, Foucault and Elias

Jocelyn Handy
Rethinking Stress
Seeing the Collective

Becoming `Stress-Fit'
Stephen Fineman
Stress, Emotion and Intervention
Rewriting the Stressed Subject


`This book will be useful for a number of reasons. Primarily it gives the stress researcher a new lens through which to view the stress discourse. Hopefully, others who work in the area will follow suit so that the few who engage in this type of scholarship are not marginalized, as is pointed out in the book. This work is also useful in providing the scholar and student of organization theory with something to hold onto. The stress literature is fertile ground on which to apply and learn labour process theory, Foucault's ideas and Burrell and Morgan taxonomy. Last, I think those who are attempting to incorporate diverse perspectives and voices into the organizational sciences will be given renewed strength by reading this book. Newton provides us with countless examples of how social and political pressures cause us to define ourselves as "naturally stressed" and to change ourselves rather than challenge and change the social control mechanisms that exist in our society and in the microcosm of society - the organization' - Management Learning

`I believe that this book will come to be regarded as a historical landmark in the way in which we think about and deal with "stress".... this book makes a unique contribution by challenging the complacent orthodoxy which characterizes so much of the stress literature. This challenge is not just part of an academic debate, but also has profound implications for what organizations and individuals do about "stress". I feel therefore that this book will be of genuine value to practitioners and researchers.... few people who read this book... will be left in any doubt as to the academic and practical value of thinking about stress from these perspectives' - The Occupational Psychologist

`The book contains some thought-provoking material. This includes the idea that a stressful work environment is not bad but the psycho-social nature of human beings has not yet caught up with it and stress management techniques might enable them to.... The book ends with a comprehensive bibliography on the subject. Tim Newton has added to the present thinking on stress in the workplace in a stimulating manner which will be of particular use to those attempting to have the issue addressed on an organization-wide basis' - Counselling at Work

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