Stress til salg: En analyse af stressens italesættelse og håndtering

Morten Hellsten & Simon Kærup

Student thesis: Master thesis


The theme of this thesis is the ongoing discussion of defining stress as a phenomenon. Throughout the last decade, a significant part of the debate has evolved around the issue of trying to establish some stabilized meaning to the notion and construct of stress. This has, it seems, been done without providing any sustainable results. The current position of the notion of stress is a multiple construct with a vast number of different perceptions and interpretations. This thesis focuses on the Danish stress consulting market, and is an attempt to provide an overview of the articulation of stress as it is done by these stress professionals. The starting point of our analysis is Niklas Luhmann’s theory of semantics. We analyze 25 Danish stress-consultant companies and their concepts of stress. Our analysis shows us that the Danish market of stress consulting has multiple ways of providing meaning to the term stress, but also that different articulations of stress can essentially be systematically sorted within a number of themes. This thesis also analyzes the characteristics of the solutions provided by the consultants. We observe a tendency towards a focus on preventing stress rather than curing victims of stress. The analysis also shows that the solutions are mostly focused towards individuals, which leads us to propose a probability of stress being more an individual problem than an organizational problem. This paper also move beyond the realizations of the different characteristics of stress in the field of consulting, and provide an analysis on how these stress consultants, through their solutions, establish the individual as being responsible for his/her own stress. With the concepts of Michel Foucault’s Governmentality, we analyze a number of stress solution programs as governmental technologies, focusing on their potential as subjectivation processes. Our results show two important points. Firstly, the individual should feel a personal obligation to solve his or here own stress under the consideration of not harming the overall level of organizational stress. Therefore the responsibility created for the individual is situated within a double consideration. Secondly, the consultants construct a logic in which they become a necessity for the solution of stress. Therefore the individual has to deal with his or her stress by receiving help from the consultants.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2008
Number of pages158