Politicizing, Professionalizing, and Personalizing Problems: The Justification of Organizational Maintenance
35 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2011 Last revised: 16 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 4, 2011
This paper discusses the possibility for actors to maintain organizational activities when facing institutional and local pressures to change. Based on observations of status-meetings to evaluate employees’ sick-leave and sick-benefits, as well as interviews with the participant actors, we show how local activities are linked to surrounding discourses in explaining institutional work. The involved actors recognized that the causes of much sickness absence were organizational, yet framed the responses to these organizational deficiencies as individual. The actors personalized, professionalized, or politicized the problems to avoid responsibility and legitimate organizational maintenance. In doing so, the actors linked the material situation with temporal and partial constructions of the past, the present and the future. These mechanisms of maintenance lead to the tentative development of a framework aimed at augmenting our understanding of local institutional work to maintain practices despite pressures to change by either reframing or disembedding the local situation.
Keywords: discourse, healthcare, institutional maintenance, materiality, temporality, sickness absence
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