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Making a healthy change: a historical analysis of workplace wellbeing

James Wallace Orcid Logo

Management and Organizational History, Volume: 17, Issue: 1-2, Pages: 20 - 42

Swansea University Author: James Wallace Orcid Logo

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Abstract

This paper looks at the precedents of current wellbeing programs, examining three historical modes of workplace wellbeing in order to analyze the way in which employees have become subjects of wellbeing discourse. In doing so, this paper seeks to illustrate the historical trajectory of the managemen...

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Published in: Management and Organizational History
ISSN: 1744-9359 1744-9367
Published: Informa UK Limited 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa59937
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Abstract: This paper looks at the precedents of current wellbeing programs, examining three historical modes of workplace wellbeing in order to analyze the way in which employees have become subjects of wellbeing discourse. In doing so, this paper seeks to illustrate the historical trajectory of the management of employee health, exploring both its disjunctures and continuities. It is argued that workplace wellbeing can be characterized in two ways. First, as an intervention into the lives of employees, becoming a means of producing ‘fit for work’ subjects. Second, in terms of the legitimation of this intervention through its discursive positioning as a response to prevalent social concerns. It is noted that, while wellbeing has evolved over time in terms of its rationale and its practices, it has continued to be characterized by these two features.
Keywords: wellbeing; wellness; subjectivity; Foucault; genealogy; paternalism; human relations
College: School of Management
Funders: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council through a PhD studentship.
Issue: 1-2
Start Page: 20
End Page: 42