Bullying and Emotional Abuse in the Workplace: International Perspectives in Research and Practice

By Ståle Einarsen; Helge Hoel et al. | Go to book overview

11

Explaining bullying at work

Why should we listen to employee accounts?

Andreas P. D. Liefooghe and Kate Mackenzie Davey


Introduction

Postmodernism represents a fundamental challenge to contemporary science by rejecting the taken for granted notions of rationality, order, clarity, truth and realism and the idea of intellectual progress. Instead, postmodernism draws attention to disorder, contradictory explanations and ambiguity. While modern science is concerned with the appropriate methods and procedures for establishing the truth, postmodernism uses deconstruction to reveal the strategies that are used to represent truth claims. Postmodernism is thus concerned with the use of language - as such, language becomes the unit of analysis.

On the basis of the work of Lyotard (1984), Foucault (1977, 1979, 1980) and Derrida (1974, 1978), the notion that language is a neutral tool for communicating 'facts' is undermined. Instead, language creates and imposes meaning, implying that meaning itself is unstable, depending on how it is 'read'. Postmodernism shifts attention away from the author of a text and focuses instead on the reader. Rather than asking what a text means, what the author is really trying to say or what the correct interpretation is, postmodernists are concerned with how different readers interpret the text, and what it means to them. All interpretations are regarded as equally valid, which implies that our understanding of the 'truth' will always be fragmented, selective and biased. Assuming this position allows scepticism for any approach that claims to present how things really are, the one best way or the truth.

In line with critical perspectives, postmodernism views truth as socially constructed - reality is a construct, a representation that is manufactured and manipulated. As such, postmodernism removes a sense of certainty and order by removing fixed reference points, by demonstrating that what we thought of as 'solid' can be seen as a socially constructed product. While modernism seeks to understand, postmodernism is continually asking whose view is being supported and whose interests are served.

Critical researchers see organisations as social historical creations, born in conditions of struggle and domination - a domination that may hide

-219-

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Bullying and Emotional Abuse in the Workplace: International Perspectives in Research and Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Part 1 - The Problem 1
  • 1 - The European Tradition 3
  • 2 - American Perspectives on Workplace Bullying 31
  • 3 - Basic Facts and an Effective Intervention Programme 62
  • 4 - What is Sexual Harassment? 79
  • Part 2 - The Evidence 101
  • 5 - Introduction 103
  • 6 - Introduction 127
  • 7 - Introduction 145
  • Part 3 - Explaining the Problem 163
  • 8 - Victims and Perpetrators 165
  • 9 - A Social Interactionist Perspective 185
  • 10 - Introduction 203
  • 11 - Why Should We Listen to Employee Accounts? 219
  • 12 - A Postmodern Experience 231
  • 13 - Development, Implementation and Monitoring 247
  • 14 - Introduction 259
  • 15 - Introduction 270
  • 16 - The Role of Occupational Health Services 285
  • 17 - A Systematic Approach Model 299
  • 18 - The Example of South Africa 312
  • 19 - Introduction 327
  • 20 - Introduction 339
  • 21 - Introduction 359
  • 22 - A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? 370
  • 23 - The Collective Dimension 383
  • 24 - Towards a Transnational Consensus? 399
  • 25 - The Way Forward 412
  • Subject Index 417
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