1st Edition

The Subjectivities and Politics of Occupational Risk Mines, Farms and Auto Factories

By Alan Hall Copyright 2021
    330 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    330 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Subjectivities and Politics of Occupational Risk links restructuring in three industries to shifts in risk subjectivities and politics, both within workplaces and within the safety management and regulative spheres, often leading to conflict and changes in law, political discourses and management approaches.

    The state and corporate governance emphasis on worker participation and worker rights, internal responsibility, and self-regulative technologies are understood as corporate and state efforts to reconstruct control and responsibility for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) risks within the context of a globalized neoliberal economy. Part 1 presents a conceptual framework for understanding the subjective bases of worker responses to health and safety hazards using Bourdieu’s concept of habitus and the sociology of risk concepts of trust and uncertainty. Part 2 demonstrates the restructuring arguments using three different industry case studies of multiple mines, farms and auto parts plants.

    The final chapter draws out the implications of the evidence and theory for social change and presents several recommendations for a more worker-centred politics of health and safety. The book will appeal to social scientists interested in health and safety, work, employment relations and labour law, as well as worker advocates and activists.

    1. Introduction and Research Methods

    Part 1: Risk Subjectivities and Practices

    2. Identifying Hazards and Judging Risk

    3. Taking Risks or Taking a Stand: Interests, Power and Identity

    Part 2: Case Studies of Health and Safety in Hard Rock Mining, Family Farming and Auto Parts Manufacturing

    4. Transforming the Mining Labour Process: Transforming Risk and its Social Construction

    5. Reconstructing Miner Consent: Management Objectives and Strategies

    6. The Transformation and Fragmentation of Canadian Agriculture

    7. Health and Safety in Farming

    8. The Transformation of Production and Health and Safety in Auto Parts Manufacturing.

    9. Participation and Control in a Non-Union Auto Parts Firm

    10. Conclusion and Implications for Change


    Alan Hall recently retired from the Department of Sociology at Memorial University where he now holds an Honorary Research Professor position. His most recent 2020 publications are a co-authored book on employment standards published by University of Toronto Press, and an article in Economic and Industrial Democracy on vulnerable workers.

    "Over the years, Alan Hall has made a significant contribution to this literature, especially with understandings based on research findings concerning how worker representatives act in order to deliver their roles effectively. Through the use of a mixture of theoretically informed, qualitative and quantitative methods, he, along with others, helped to establish a robust understanding of the ways in which representation and consultation on work health and safety risks and the arrangements to manage them can operate to give workers some chance that their voice may be heard. His ideas concerning "knowledge activism," for example, have been especially central to this understanding and useful in their application to a host of work situations beyond the Canadian contexts in which they were originally developed."

    David Walters, Cardiff University, UK