The ideological constitutive role of occupational safety in Chile and its unintended consequences
Mass Communication has been generally viewed as a process that takes place within the mass media. Radio, television, magazines and the press, among others, have been conceptualized as exclusive disseminators of symbolic content to large audiences. But as Curran (1982) suggests, mass communication can take place through a variety of non-technological means, such as rituals, songs, coins, buildings and statues. Based on a non-technological perspective of mass communication, which conceives modern social practices as relevant disseminators of massive symbolic content, this study examines the social practice of occupational safety carried out in Chile by the Mutual Accidents Insurance Associations (Mutuals). Following a constructivist and critical approach, this thesis explores the Mutuals’ symbolic content in its constitutive function of shaping occupational safety at the work site and its unintended consequences upon workers’ safety and health. A secondary analysis method upon focus group discussions examines and describes the constitution of managerial safety ideologies, workers’ identities and the interrelations of safety and systems of control, as social constructions that disable safety interventions thus restraining health at the worksite. Findings suggest Mutuals’ symbolic content, in line with a corporate-centric focus, deprive workers’ safety and health by: (a) excluding risk strategies round productive processes, (b) subordinating safety decisions to the power of capital, (c) predominantly targeting safety interventions to the workers’ psyche, (d) denying workers’ participation in safety administration decisions, (e) diminishing workers’ sense of value, (f) rejecting social organization of the labor process as an objective for safety strategies, and (g) facilitating occupational safety services to operate as a system of control. Understanding these negative consequences provides a basis for expanding the practice of occupational safety to the realm of social constructions and to question the corporate-centric focus as the universal and right design to deal against occupational accidents and diseases.
Health care management;
0708: Mass communications
0769: Health care management