How Much Do You Suffer? The Performativity of Scientific Scales of Work-Related Suffering


  • Allard-Poesi Florence
  • Hollet-Haudebert Sandrine


  • Stress scales
  • Work-related stress
  • Stress measurement
  • Foucault
  • Self-assessment scales
  • Suffering at work

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Based on a Foucauldian conception of knowledge, this research analyzes seven scales for measuring work-related suffering; scales commonly used in surveys conducted in organizations, and which perform a certain conception of the suffering subject and his/her environment. This analysis shows that these instruments construct the individual as a reflexive subject, as someone capable of accounting for his state and environment; but that, first of all individuals are not envisaged as actors in this environment and second of all, that the latter is limited to the immediate working environment. Consequently, the strategic, economic, sociological or ideological dimensions of this environment cannot be questioned. In this regard, our study suggests that research should be conducted on the so far neglected question of the limitations of those measuring instruments in terms of action and reflection.

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