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Congrs Marx International VI, Plenum 25 septembre 2010, Dejours Christophe Christophe DE !

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Suicide at work and the crisis of culture Suicide at work: a case of psychologisation of the social? Cases o% sui&i'e b( )or*ers on their )or*pla&e appeare' at the en' o% the 1++0s, In -ran&e, the issue o% sui&i'e at )or* entere' the publi& sphere a%ter a 'e&a'e o% laten&(, in 200., %ollo)ing a series o% sui&i'es at #enault an' Peugeot, $in&e autumn 200+, a number o% parliamentar( &ommissions ha/e begun 'ebating about su%%ering at )or*, Is this a phenomenon that is stri&tl( limite' to -ran&e0 In all the &ountries I ha/e been to to tal* about this, I ha/e hear' reports about similar %a&ts, 1he spe&i%i&it( o% -ran&e seems to me rather to be the existen&e o% a publi& 'ebate that has no e2ui/alent else)here as (et, $ui&i'e at )or* is a ne) phenomenon, )hi&h, in m( e(es, mar*s a histori& 'e/elopment in the relations bet)een the human being an' )or*, 1his opinion is not share' b( a number o% other resear&hers in -ran&e )ho 'en( the legitima&( o% the publi& 'ebate on this issue, arguing that it is a %orm o% miserabilism &reate' b( the me'ia, in or'er to 'i/ert attention %rom the real, %un'amental problems o% neoliberal &apitalism, 3 pro&ess o% /i&timisation an' the polarisation o% &iti4ens attention /ia the ex&lusi/e %o&us on in'i/i'ual ps(&hologi&al problems, are a&&use' o% being or&hestrate' in or'er to inspire &ompassion an' 'e%eatism, an' thus a/oi' politi&al a)areness o% the onl( issues )orth( o% interest5 %inan&e, globalisation, the global e&onom(, an' so on 6see 7ari%ian, Ehrenberg,,,8, 1he 9ps(&hologisation: an' 9me'i&alisation o% the so&ial: 6see ;u( <ebeer an' a&2ues Moriau8 is sai' to be organise' b( i'eologues o% neoliberalism, )ith the support o% mer&enar( ps(&hologists )ho &an see the opportunit( o% ma*ing a bu&* there, 1he /irulent 'enun&iation o% 9ps(&hologisation: is o%ten nourishe' b( the Marxist suspi&ion to)ar's ps(&holog(, ps(&hoanal(sis an' all that is relate' to subje&ti/it(, !ther thin*ers b( &ontrast, some o% )hom are respe&te' interpreters o% Marx, return to the 'i%%i&ult 2uestion o% alienation 6=aber8, un'erline the relations bet)een su%%ering an' so&ial injusti&e 6#enault8, or un'erta*e to pose ane) the %un'amental 2uestion o% )or* 6Derant(8, Work organisation and domination

Congrs Marx International VI, Plenum 25 septembre 2010, Dejours Christophe "ntil the en' o% the 1+th &entur(, people 'ie' at )or* be&ause o% ph(si&al exhaustion, a&&i'ent or pro%essional 'isease, $in&e the beginning o% the 21 st &entur(, people 'ie at )or* through the mur'er the( &ommit on themsel/es, as )or*ers )ho &an no longer bear the situation in )hi&h the( are pla&e', >hat happene' that )oul' explain ho) )or*ers &oul' &ome to immolate themsel/es be%ore the /er( e(es o% their &olleagues0 1he stu'ies &on'u&te' in the &lini2ue an' ps(&ho'(nami&s o% )or* sin&e the 1+?0s has sho)n that the ris*s lin*e' to ba' health an' sa%et( conditions target mainl( the body o% )or*ers, @( &ontrast )ith )or*ing &on'itions, the organisation of work exerts its in%luen&e on mental health, I% ne) ps(&hopathologi&al %orms appear at the en' o% the 20th &entur(, an' to'a( en' up in sui&i'e in the )or*pla&e, it is there%ore be&ause something &hange' in the metho's an' means use' the organisation o% )or*, $in&e 1+.A, an' #obert <inhartBs boo* on 9<enin, the -armers an' 1a(lor:, )e *no) that the organisation o% )or*, )hi&h 'etermines the 'i/ision an' 'istribution o% tas*s amongst )or*ers, is al)a(s also a me&hanism o% domination, It is onl( in 200C that the main inno/ation responsible %or the e/olution o% 'omination at )or* )as i'enti%ie'5 namel(, the intro'u&tion o% ne) metho's o% individualised evaluation of performance, 1hese metho's, &ouple' )ith the re&or'ing o% a&ti/it( D tra&eabilit( D 6)hi&h )ere ma'e possible b( the intro'u&tion o% &omputers on ea&h )or*ing station8, an' &ouple' )ith the threat o% re'un'an&(, ha/e 'eepl( trans%orme' the so&ial )orl' o% )or*, 1he &onstant &omparati/e measuring o% per%orman&e bet)een )or*ers 'i' not bring more justi&e in the ju'gement an' treatment o% )or*ers, In a&tual %a&t )hat it has brought is in&rease' &ompetition bet)een in'i/i'uals, the ten'en&( %or e/er(one to onl( &are %or themsel/es, in'i/i'ualism an' general 'istrust amongst &olleagues, all the more exa&erbate' the higher )e go in the hierar&h(, 1he pressure to be better than the other, %or %ear o% being san&tione', has totall( un'ermine' lo(alt(, trust, un'erstan'ing, &onsi'eration an' mutual support, an' e/entuall( has 'estro(e' soli'arities, $olitu'e an' %ear ha/e 'es&en'e' upon the )orl' o% )or*, ruining the %oun'ations o% &ommunal li%e, the art o% li/ing together an' &on/i/ialit(, Destructuration of solidarities 3t the origin o% sui&i'es at )or*, there is %irst o% all the solitu'e o% ea&h an' e/er(one in the mi'st o% the multitu'e, 1his solitu'e &an be so ba' that in the mi'st o% an open spa&e, t)o

Congrs Marx International VI, Plenum 25 septembre 2010, Dejours Christophe operators sitting just a %e) meters %rom ea&h other re%use to tal* to ea&h other an' onl( &ommuni&ate through te&hni&al messages sent b( email, 3 more pre&ise anal(sis o% the ne) metho's o% 'omination sho)s that the e/aluation o% per%orman&e is the %irst o% three *in's o% ne) arrangements more or less )ell arti&ulate' amongst themsel/es, 1he other t)o are5 the &erti%i&ates o% total 2ualit( an' I$! norms, as )ell as the %lexibilit( o% emplo(ment an' &as&a'ing outsour&ing, Eext to these ne) metho's o% 'omination, ne) %orms o% ser/itu'e an' alienation also emerge, 1he major lin* here is the &onsent )ill( nill(, to a&&ept to &ollaborate in the name o% )or* an' pro%itabilit(, to a&ts )hi&h one &on'emns morall(, su&h as un%air &ompetition or the re%usal to help or assist others, @e&ause o% )or* an' the ne) %orms o% 'omination, )or*ers gra'uall( ma*e the experien&e o% &o)ar'i&e an' sel%Fbetra(al, so mu&h so that in the en', )or* un'ermines sel%Flo/e an' sel%Festeem, 1he intro'u&tion o% these ne) metho's o% 'omination &hara&terises )hat &an be terme' the 9managerial turn:, 1his turn is responsible to a large 'egree %or the manner in )hi&h )or* %rom no) on turns against the 9spe&ies being: o% the human being, as Marx &alle' it in the 1?GG manus&ripts, 1his &orrespon's to a signi%i&ant 2ualitati/e turn in the histor( o% )or* an' &apitalism, at the heart o% a moral &risis %or )hi&h the &ases o% sui&i'e at )or* are the most tragi& mani%estation, It is also a blin' spot in the &riti&al anal(sis o% &ontemporar( &apitalism, 1he inabilit( to thin* the &auses o% this turn are 'isastrous %or this anal(sis, A crisis of culture ? 1he moral &risis su%%ere' b( our &ontemporaries is %or a large part 'ue to the 'isappearan&e o% )hat &arrie', through )or*, the promise o% sel%F%ul%ilment, sel%Flo/e an' eman&ipation, 3t least %or those )ho &oul' hope to use )or* as a so&ial la''er, It is important to note here that the &lini&al stu'( o% sui&i'es at )or* sho)s that these %orms o% sui&i'e sometimes &on&ern people )ho ha/e no ps(&hopathologi&al problem, no ps(&hiatri& ante&e'ents, )ho enjo( &om%ortable li/ing &on'itions, ha/e goo' salaries an' ha/e stable an' goo' relationships in their intimate li%e, In'ee', those )ho ta*e their li/es are o%ten the )or*ers )ho are most &ommitte' to their )or*, 3 para'ox there%ore exists5 those )or*ers )ho are less subje&ti/el( in/ol/e' in their )or* an' pro/i'e onl( the minimum to the &ompan( are relati/el( prote&te' %rom the ris* o% sui&i'e, Commitment an' impli&ation in

Congrs Marx International VI, Plenum 25 septembre 2010, Dejours Christophe oneBs )or* appear to'a( as an extra ris* in relation to mental illness, pathologies o% o/er)or* an' sui&i'e, 1his &reates serious problems in relation to the messages that shoul' be sent to &hil'ren an' (oung a'ults in their e'u&ation an' instru&tion, >hen )or* turns against manBs spe&ies being, this lea's to a serious )ea*ening o% the institutions o% the e'u&ation s(stem, one o% the signs o% the &risis o% &ulture, -rom the perspe&ti/e o% the ps(&ho'(nami& theor( o% )or*, this ne) &on%iguration in the relation bet)een the human being an' )or* amounts to the 'estru&tion o% the prin&iple un'erpinning )hat -reu' terme' 9Hulturarbeit: D the )or* o% &ulture F , )hi&h is the &on'ition o% possibilit( o% sublimation at the in'i/i'ual le/el, an' o% &ulture 6Hultur8 at the &olle&ti/e le/el, 1he anal(sis o% the 'i%%erent elements o% &olle&ti/e )or* sho)s that &ooperation amongst )or*ers 'epen's on a &omplex pro'u&tion o% rules 5 )or*ing rules, rules o% the tra'e, )hi&h enable the )or*ers to &olle&ti/el( ta*e &harge o% the e%%i&ien&( an' 2ualit( o% pro'u&tion, 1his pro'u&tion o% rules is &alle' 9'eonti& a&ti/it(:, E/er( )or*ing rule &onstru&te' b( a &olle&ti/e or a team organises simultaneousl( the pro'u&tion an' &olle&ti/e li%e, 1he in'i/i'ualise' e/aluation o% per%orman&e 'ismantles one b( one the interme'iar( lin*s o% &ooperation amongst human beings, )hi&h, in e/er('a( li%e, is learnt an' experimente' upon mainl( in pro'u&ti/e )or*, Conse2uentl(, b( un'ermining the learning o% 'eonti& a&ti/it( an' &ooperation, the ne) metho's o% )or* organisation gra'uall( 'estro( one o% the main sour&es o% 'emo&ra&(, It is the anal(sis o% su&h a pro&ess that lea's to the thesis o% 9the politi&al &entralit( o% )or*:, Action 1o %in' )a(s out o% this 'eleterious &on%iguration o% the relation bet)een human being an' )or*, )hat is re2uire' is a spe&i%i& resear&h e%%ort into the interme'iar( lin*s o% &ooperation, 1his is the onl( path to one 'a( re&o/er the &ontrol o/er the organisation o% )or*, an' to struggle rationall( against 'omination an' the ne) %orms o% alienation through )or*, 3 'etaile' anal(sis is ne&essar(, %o&using on the &on'itions explaining the su&&ess o% the te&hni2ues o% 'omination through the ne) metho's o% )or* organisation,, $u&h an anal(sis )oul' sho), i% )e ha' the spa&e to 'e/elop it here, that the histori&al opportunities in the >estern )orl' to restru&ture in'ustrial tas*s, as )as initiate' %ollo)ing the e/ents o% 1+A?, these opportunities )ere misse' b( le%tF)ing an' unionists ali*eI an' it is pre&isel( this la&* G

Congrs Marx International VI, Plenum 25 septembre 2010, Dejours Christophe o% un'erstan'ing o% the politi&al &entralit( o% )or* that explains the seriousness o% the &urrent situation, 1he a/enues %or the struggle against the ne) %orms o% 'omination &an be i'enti%ie', but the( impl( in return some signi%i&ant shi%ts in the theor( o% a&tion, 1o'a(, se/eral %orms o% struggle exist, but the( arise at the margins o% the )orl' o% )or*5 18 In the experien&e o% pra&titioners, J mK'e&ins 'u tra/ail L, )or* inspe&tors, so&ial )or*ers, ps(&hopathologists, 28 In the engagement o% journalists, an' through them, o% me'ia, to promote the 'is&ussion o% )or* in the publi& 'ebate, C8 In the important )or* o% resear&h &on'u&te' b( 'o&umentar( ma*ers 6rather than b( resear&hers8, G8 In &ultural pro'u&tion, in %ilm, theatre as )ell as literature %i&tions, )hi&h &ontribute to the %ormation o% a sensiti/it(, )ithin the publi& sphere, %or )or* 2uestions, 58 In the per&eptible although still )ea* e/olution o% la) an' jurispru'en&e in trials relate' to )or* issues, in the 'i%%erent tribunals

It remains the &ase ho)e/er that rational a&tion against the ne) %orms o% 'omination through )or* 'eman' o% resear&hers an' thin*ers a signi%i&ant resear&h in/estment in issues o% )or* an' its &entralit(, in or'er to pro/i'e &on&eptual an' theoreti&al tools to those )ho, in the %uture, )ill )ant to engage in a politi&s o% )or*, I am tal*ing o% a politi&s o% )or* an' its organisation, an' not just a 9politi&s o% emplo(ment:, to atta&* the &apitalist s(stem at its /er( heart, that is the pro'u&tion o% /alue, -or me, i% I ma( gi/e m( opinion on this, there is no %atalism in the e/olution o% the &ontemporar( )orl', 1he ne) %orms o% 'omination intro'u&e' through the organisation o% )or* are not pro'u&e' b( 9the s(stem:, 1he &riti2ue o% %un&tionalist reason sho)s rather that 'omination is an' )ill al)a(s be the pro'u&t o% human in/ention an' politi&al )ill, =o)e/er,

Congrs Marx International VI, Plenum 25 septembre 2010, Dejours Christophe in or'er to regain the upper han' on this e/olution, )e nee' the theoreti&al tools that )ill enable us to anal(se, an' i% not to master, at least to negotiate e%%i&a&iousl( )ith the 'i%%erent emplo(ers an' the states,

! "!#$%A&'!( P DE#3E1M 63pril 2010 to be publishe' in 9Criti&al =ori4ons:8 J >or* as 1rans&en'antal Experien&e5 Impli&ations o% DejoursBs Ps(&ho'(nami&s %or Contemporar( $o&ial 1heor( an' Philosoph( L)

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2. LEBEER G, MORIAU J (sous la dir.) (2010): (Se) gouverner (Entre souci de soi et action publique). PIE Peter Lang (Bruxelles) p 11-32 3. LINHART R. (1976) : Lnine, les paysans, Taylor , Editions du Seuil 4. RENAULT E. (2008) : Souffrances sociales (Philosophie, psychologie et politique) Editions la Dcouverte. Paris