Tanja Kirkegaard: Stress as a Sociocultural Phenomenon - Exploring the Distributed Nature of Stress in an Organizational Context
Intuitively, people tend to think in individualistic terms about the stress that allegedly permeates modern life, not least work life, where we often hear about a ‘stress epidemic’. From this common point of view, stress is understood as both a mental phenomenon and as an embodied phenomenon. But a perspective on stress as something embedded in and distributed across the physical and social environment has not been prevalent neither in the research on stress nor in lay discussions.
In this study I apply a social and cultural approach to work related stress. I am interested in how the cultural practices and thereby socio-material practices at work are related to stress understandings, to specific appraisals of the work conditions and
how the socio-material practices are related to specific coping practices. It is argued throughout the thesis that to fully understand the complex phenomenon of stress, we need to take its social and physical embeddedness into account.
The project explores the distributed nature of stress at two departments of a large Danish company using a mixed methods design with a combination of a questionnaire and fieldwork.