• Hanne Nissen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)

This thesis sets out to examine whether traditional methods for studying work environment, can serve as an adequate framework to understand the increasing development of stress in the postindustrial society.
The Job-Demand-Control model presented by Karasek (1979; 1989) is one of the most well-known work-environment models and has dominated research on occupational stress in the past 30 years (Van Der Doef & Maes, 1999). On this behalf the Job-Demand-Control model is chosen as the main representative for traditional work-environment models. The assumption in the model is that strain and stress arises as a combination of high demands and low control, and that control is moderating the negative effects of job strain. Based on the notion from Johnson and Hall (1988), that social support also has moderating effect on job strain caused by demands, the Job-Demand-Control model is expanded to include this dimension.
Two additional models are included in this thesis. The Conservation of Resources model presented by Hobfoll (1989; 1998) and the Effort-Reward model presented by Siegrist (1996). These models are included because they were developed in the transition from the industrial society to the postindustrial society and therefore might consider the new working conditions in the later.
The usability of the traditional models is investigated both by a theoretical analysis of the postindustrial society and how work is considered in this society, and through an analysis based on empirical data. These data are collected from 182 respondents who answered two open-ended questions concerning the three aspects of their jobs they like the most and the three aspects they find most unsatisfying. These statements are categorized in to the following five categories: 1) Workload, 2) Work structure and organization, 3) Social relations, 4) Responsibility and influence 5) Learning development and meaningful work. These categories are assumed to represent areas where work strain is experienced in the postindustrial society. Based on this assumption the Job-Demand-Control model is used in a predictive manner to produce hypothesis which can be tested in relation to the categories.
Both the theoretical and the empirical analysis conclude that the traditional work-environment models can’t provide a full understanding of the strain that is produced by postindustrial work and how this leads to stress. In some areas work is still dominated by traditional demands, but in general work has become more fluent and imperializes the whole life why the identities of the employees are highly involved in the work process and the organization. A crucial difference from the industrial to the postindustrial society is the changed character of social relations in the work place. All three models concerned in this thesis operationalize social relations in an instrumental manner and therefore fails to capture the complexity of these relations.
The criticism put forward on the traditional models leads to considerations on what should be captured in a model concerning the development of stress in the postindustrial society. Therefore it is argued that the root course for stress is a combination of the society structures, power relations, social relations and identity. Furthermore the stress reaction should be differentiated with respect to its cause, its symptoms and how it is handled.

Publication date1 Aug 2011
Number of pages792
ID: 54740465