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Journal ArticleDOI

The social construction of safety: Comparing three realities

01 Jan 2015-Safety Science (Elsevier Publishing)-Vol. 71, pp 16-27

AbstractThis study focuses on the (development of) safety culture of a big gas distribution company. Using a social constructionist framework, we explore the discourses constructed by three of the organization's subgroups in relation to safety. Those groups, which are all situated at field level from a single working site, and therefore share a similar proximity to safety issues, occupy different hierarchical and functional positions. We assumed that each group may be considered as a specific social world, within which a specific perception of, and relationship with, safety is constructed, and that discourse analysis offers access to this construction. Individual semi-structured interviews were carried out to gather the discourses and analyzed in an ethno-methodological and conversation analysis perspective. Our discourse analysis allowed us to confirm our assumption by identifying that from one shared 'root' perception, three different constructions of safety stem. They appear to depend on both the group's specific jobs, and group positioning within the organization. Building on Berger and Luckmann's development cycle and on Weick's theory of sensemaking, we interpret those results as ensuing from a hiatus in the organization's rules enactment process and culture development cycle

Topics: Sensemaking (55%), Conversation analysis (54%), Social constructivism (54%), Safety culture (54%), Discourse analysis (53%)

Summary (5 min read)

Introduction

  • The study presented in this article stems from the willingness of a major French gas distribution company to obtain a better understanding of its safety culture.
  • Firstly, the authors outline the organizational context within which the study took place.
  • The company at the heart of their study is responsible for the delivery of natural gas from the transport network to the end-user, i.e. households or companies.
  • The corporation as it exists today is only six years old.
  • In short, the company’s safety policy and organizational culture from which it is derived are hardly six years old, and it is nevertheless developing from the foundations of a previous professional culture.

Conceptual framework

  • Considered from a theoretical perspective, the empirical question pertaining to the organization’s safety culture and underlying contradiction points to a number of issues with regards to safety culture and more broadly, to organizational culture, of which safety culture is an aspect (see Guldenmund, 2010).
  • The authors aim is therefore to develop a better understanding of the ‘dynamic phenomenon’ specific to the organization the authors are focusing on.
  • In particular, the social constructionist paradigm seems useful to explore the gap empirically observed in the organization’s safety culture: does it stem from a willingness from field-level people to distance themselves from headquarters and from a felt top-down imposition of knowledge and rules, a phenomenon already broadly documented by research in safety science and sociology (see for instance Terssac, 2003).
  • In addition to Weick’s theory of sensemaking, the authors will be using an adjusted version of Berger and Luckmann’s model of culture development (see also Guldenmund, 2014, for a similar adaptation) to help interpret the organizational aspects of their results.
  • This stage ultimately results in shared understandings, such as standards of behaviour, roles and norms.

Research question and justification

  • Those initial elements led to formulating their research question asking whether the field-level world(s) and associated local culture(s) lead employees to recognize but not appropriate the organization’s safety policy.
  • Discourses may be defined as ‘socially shared languages, outcrops of representations of events upon the terrain of social life’ (Burr, 2003, p.44), which meaning mostly depends on the context and which constitute a ‘frame of reference, ‘a conceptual backcloth against which their utterances can be interpreted’ (ibid.).
  • If there is no objective reality but only local realities which are socially constructed, then it seems fair to state that there is no objective and unique frame of reference, and that within an organization, each subgroup, as a specific social world, develops its own discourse.
  • The authors considered that three was an appropriate number to ensure that data would offer some diversity, all the while remaining manageable.
  • Their discourse analysis will first aim at confirming whether their three subgroups have indeed constructed local safety discourses and if so, to outline the local conditions which influenced this construction.

Research design and methodology

  • To gather local texts the authors carried out individual semi-structured interviews, primarily as a way to enquire ‘openly about situational meanings or motives for action, or collecting everyday theories and self-interpretations in a differentiated and open way’.
  • These interviews were carried out with employees working within the organization’s core activity, i.e. gas distribution, as opposed to peripheral activities such as research, design, development, and so on.
  • As the interviews were conducted at a single location where prior non-participant observation had been carried out, confidence was quickly established.
  • Each interview lasted between 60 and 90 minutes, during which a variety of work and safety-related topics were covered .

Focus: field level

  • Subgroups were selected at field level because they are the ones primarily concerned with safety issues, being directly confronted with field work where these issues arise.
  • As such they are literally the primary addressees of the organization’s safety policy, the ones who are expected to confront the policy with actual safety issues.
  • Managing safety according to organizational views requires that they follow a number of principles, ranging from individual equipment to rules and procedures.
  • Field level was also chosen because it is where distance has been most explicitly expressed during the initial phase of research.
  • Focusing on field level therefore appeared as the first option, as it seemed to be the level where safety as a practice and safety as a policy would collide in the most frontal way, making any difference more noticeable.

Sample

  • Three subgroups were thereupon selected: field workers from the operations department, frontline supervisors from the operations department and network supervisors from the network operations department.
  • As mentioned, field workers, who the authors also call ‘gasmen’, are the ones who carry out the actual work in the field, i.e. construction work, acts of maintenance, leak management, and so on.
  • Finally, network supervisors are the people in charge of operating the network, which means ensuring that gas actually flows through the pipes and goes to clients, under such conditions that ‘the safety of people and goods is preserved’.
  • While field workers carry out their work in the field, both groups of managers are most of the time stationed at the office and manage safety issues from their office as they arise.
  • As they belong to different departments and fulfil different functions (basically, hierarchical vs. expertise-based management), frontline supervisors and network supervisors have opportunity to interact.

Composition of subgroups

  • Twenty people have been interviewed: ten field workers, five frontline supervisors from the operations department and five network managers from the network operations department.
  • Field workers outnumber the other two groups in their sample as they do in real-life.
  • By mixing age groups and background the authors therefore attempted to access an intermediary discourse which would reveal local elements while still reflecting some of the organizational elements.
  • The group of frontline supervisors is composed of both ‘older’ employees who have occupied other positions in the company and have carried out field work, and more ‘new’ employees who have never been in the field as field workers.

Approach: discourse analysis

  • Once transcribed the interviews were analysed and classified according to a discourse analysis perspective, following the ethno-methodological and conversation analysis tradition (Wetherell, 1998).
  • As reality has no essence per se and can only be constructed socially, the aim of discourse analysis is not to find some hidden truth behind the words of interviewees, but to ‘work with what has actually been said or written, exploring patterns in and across the statements and identifying the social consequences of different discursive representations of reality’.
  • The actual technique that the authors used was inspired by the qualitative analysis methodology advocated by Paillé and Mucchielli (2005) and Page 9 of 21 was carried out both manually and using a content analysis software, Dedoose (www.dedoose.com).
  • Each theme identified was then summarized and listed in a chart.

Main results

  • This section will present the main results which emerged from the discourse analysis of each category of workers.
  • The authors will start by giving a general overview of their findings, before reviewing those findings that relate to the relationship with safety and with the organization’s safety policy, construction of gasmen professionalism and the safety part therein and finally the way time is experienced, illustrating a specific experience of safety issues.

Overview of results

  • Distance (functional, geographical, and hierarchical) was quickly confirmed as a recurring theme in the interviews.
  • This means that I experience everyday life in terms of differing degrees of closeness and remoteness, both spatially and temporally.
  • The distance expressed by all three groups towards the organization’s safety policy seems consistent with what Berger and Luckmann say about distant worlds – in this case, the organization’s distant corporate world.
  • Such differences seem to imply specific relationships with the organization itself, and to be influenced by the nature of each group’s activity, and its positioning within the organization.

Perception

  • Three relationships with the organization’s safety policy, stemming from one identical root.
  • On the one hand, gasmen consider that they ‘have the means to work safely’, i.e. are provided with the equipment they need, and are not pressured to work too quickly or otherwise in a manner that they would consider unsafe.
  • Their take on the organization’s safety policy and safety in general is therefore one from a distance, but a distance which they strive to bridge in their daily work.
  • The ambiguity of their position therefore mirrors that of field workers, as supervisors are expected to make decisions and are generally held accountable for what happens in the field, and yet have no real control over it, as they work from a distance.
  • Their position within the organization is such that they have enough power and legitimacy to impose a decision, which may account for a greater sense of control over situations in general, and therefore over safety.

Discussion of results

  • When comparing the groups it seems that they all share a relationship with the organizational, projected safety culture, rather than share a safety culture themselves.
  • If what the organization offers cannot be made sense of, people end up developing alternatives and create their own cognitive frameworks.
  • Yet each group manages ambiguity (of the safety policy) and uncertainty (of real work situations) in its own way, depending on both its position within the organization and relationship to field work.
  • As appears in their discourse, ambiguity results from the fact that any work situation at one point includes unforeseen elements, hence becoming uncertain.
  • To sum up, the inadequacy of the organization’s safety policy is considered to be ambiguous to varying degrees, depending on the group’s relationship to fieldwork and to safety issues, and each group seems to have designed its specific way to manage both the ambiguity of safety policy and the uncertainty inherent to real work situations.

A hiatus in the rules enactment process and culture development cycle?

  • Another reason that may account for the differences between the way the organization’s safety policy is perceived, is what can be considered as a hiatus in the enactment process of rules and procedures.
  • As to field workers, they are confronted with two distinct, and potentially contradictory frameworks that are equally legitimate, which under extreme circumstances may bring them close to a situation of paradoxical injunction (Bateson et al., 1956).
  • Returning to Berger and Luckmann’s model of culture development, the actual process taking place within the organization is depicted in Figure 2.
  • As a consequence, institutionalized safety rules and policy are perceived as not reflecting field concerns and practices.
  • This is reinforced by the fact that those who actually enact these rules and policies in the field receive them through their managers, who in addition may not have appropriated these rules perfectly and/or may not fully agree with their content, as has been illustrated by the discourse constructed by the group of frontline supervisors.

Conclusion

  • The social constructionist perspective has provided a heuristic to analyse the material gathered in the field and helped shed light on what initially appeared as a paradoxical situation.
  • Additionally, the study has shown that from this common ‘distance’ root, three distinct safety discourses grow, and that each discourse may be correlated to each group’s work and position within the organization.
  • Indeed, the homogeneity of the groups interviewed in this study appeared simultaneously as an advantage, as it helped notions and themes emerge clearly, and as a disadvantage, as the discourse identified may be dependent on the specific history and experience of the group’s members, as much as on their position within the organization.
  • The authors believe it contributes to documenting research on organizational culture development and more specifically, on the way a safety culture is articulated within its broader working and organizational context, which it both results from and constructs.
  • It therefore provides sufficient ground for further research based on either a larger or a quite different sample in order to broaden and expand their results.

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The social construction of safety: Comparing three
realities
Hortense Blazsin, Franck W. Guldenmund
To cite this version:
Hortense Blazsin, Franck W. Guldenmund. The social construction of safety: Comparing three real-
ities. Safety Science, Elsevier, 2015, Editors’ corner 2013, 71, pp.16-27. �10.1016/j.ssci.2014.06.001�.
�hal-01022500�

Page 1 of 21
The Social Construction of Safety: Comparing Three Realities
HORTENSE BLAZSIN, MINES PARISTECH, FRANCE & FRANK GULDENMUND, DELFT UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY,
NETHERLANDS
Keywords
Safety culture; culture development; social constructivism; discourse analysis; sensemaking.
Abstract
This study focuses on the (development of) safety culture of a big gas distribution company. Using a
social constructionist framework, we explore the discourses constructed by three of the
organization’s subgroups in relation to safety. Those groups, which are all situated at field level from
a single working site, and therefore share a similar proximity to safety issues, occupy different
hierarchical and functional positions. We assumed that each group may be considered as a specific
social world, within which a specific perception of, and relationship with, safety is constructed, and
that discourse analysis offers access to this construction. Individual semi-structured interviews were
carried out to gather the discourses and analysed in an ethno-methodological and conversation
analysis perspective. Our discourse analysis allowed us to confirm our assumption by identifying that
from one shared ‘root’ perception, three different constructions of safety stem. They appear to
depend on both the group’s specific jobs, and group positioning within the organization. Building on
Berger and Luckmann’s development cycle and on Weick’s theory of sensemaking, we interpret
those results as ensuing from a hiatus in the organization’s rules enactment process and culture
development cycle.
Introduction
The study presented in this article stems from the willingness of a major French gas distribution
company to obtain a better understanding of its safety culture. This understanding might also help
resolve a contradiction that seems to permeate various safety practices. It appears that despite
explicit engagement and a significant investment in safety by top-management, also recognized as
such at all levels of the organization, a certain aloofness can be observed at local levels, with
appropriation of the safety policy in some cases still pending. This study therefore also aims at
uncovering the reasons for this gap, examining separately recognition of the company's safety policy
and its appropriation by its members. Our purpose is therefore not to evaluate the ‘objective’ safety
performance of the organization, i.e. the ability to manage safety, prevent accidents, etc., which
would require an altogether different approach and research design. From a traditional social
science perspective, our aim is to understand what the perceptions pertaining to safety are, the
factors that contribute to determining these perceptions, and how, ultimately, these individual and
group perceptions are constructed as larger discourses and, possibly also, cultures.
Building on the empirical assessment of a contradiction identifiable within the organization’s safety
culture, we formulated a research question: Do field-level world(s) and associated local culture(s)
lead employees to recognize but not appropriate the organization’s safety policy and if so, why?
Using a social constructionist perspective, we designed a study to analyse how field level employees
make sense of safety. Instead of focusing on the obvious top vs. down, or headquarters vs. field level
opposition, we selected three subgroups from one single working site, which are all situated at field
level, but occupy different hierarchical and functional positions. Firstly, we outline the organizational
context within which the study took place. Thereupon, we will present the reasons why we chose
the social constructionist perspective to look at the three groups’ sensemaking. We will then

Page 2 of 21
introduce our research question and hypothesis, and the study weve designed to address it before
proceeding with presenting our results and discussing them, after what we will conclude and open
some perspectives for further research.
Organizational context: a paradoxical perception of organizational
safety engagement
The company at the heart of our study is responsible for the delivery of natural gas from the
transport network to the end-user, i.e. households or companies. This involves monitoring the status
of the network and carrying out any maintenance operations that are necessary to avoid leaks;
connecting new customers; disconnecting parts of the network; modernising the network; managing
leaks/emergencies; and finally, coordinating with other companies whose activities may have an
impact on gas installations, which includes pipelines and associated equipment, regulating devices,
individual or collective connections, storage cabinets, etc.
Although its gas distribution activity has existed since the half of the 20
th
century, the corporation as
it exists today is only six years old. It was created as a result of a 1998 European legislation which
made it compulsory for energy distributors to become full entities, separate from energy producers
and vendors. As an organization it is therefore at once old and quite new, a blend of historic
professional expertise and a more recently founded organizational identity, impacting its
organizational and safety culture. Its birth as a legal entity was surrounded by three important gas-
related accidents, which happened within weeks of each other. Not only did these events transform
the industry’s regulatory environment, they subsequently decided to put safety as the company’s
first priority and restructure its safety policy around this new primacy. If safety had always been part
of the job, it then became the job itself. In short, the company’s safety policy and organizational
culture from which it is derived are hardly six years old, and it is nevertheless developing from the
foundations of a previous professional culture.
In the past six years, considerable financial and human means have been invested in order to
develop tools and methods which could help implement the desired safety culture where safety
takes precedence over any other aspect of an activity. Among other things, those investments have
led to activities such as a Structured Post-incident and Post-accident Feedback Process and a Human
& Organizational Factors Process (Desmorat, 2013), that aim to favour transparent upward feedback
on 'real' work practices and enhance organizational learning. It was in this context that two years
ago, the research project from which the present article stems was initiated.
A social constructionist perspective on (safety) culture
Conceptual framework
Considered from a theoretical perspective, the empirical question pertaining to the organization’s
safety culture and underlying contradiction points to a number of issues with regards to safety
culture and more broadly, to organizational culture, of which safety culture is an aspect (see
Guldenmund, 2010). Following Schein, organizational culture may be considered as ‘a dynamic
phenomenon that surrounds us at all times, being constantly enacted and created by our
interactions with others and shaped by leadership behaviour, and a set of structures, routines, rules,
and norms that guide and constrain behaviour’ (Schein, 2004, p.1). Our aim is therefore to develop a
better understanding of the ‘dynamic phenomenon’ specific to the organization we are focusing on.
In line with many current theories of organizational culture, we particularly take the differentiated
viewpoint, which states that organizations divide into subgroups along such lines as geography,

Page 3 of 21
departments, hierarchical levels, etc. (Martin, 2002). This is consistent with what Gergen, a
prominent representative of the social constructionist paradigm, writes about what he calls ‘The
ethical challenge of global organization’. According to Gergen, “As the organization expands, a
strong tendency toward specialization occurs. Most importantly, what is obvious, rational and
valuable in one part of the organization is seldom duplicated in others. In effect, a multiplication of
realities is generated, reducing the intelligibility and the rhetorical efficacy of the singular ‘voice from
the top’” (Gergen, 2001, p.142). An equivalent proposition of this statement, considered from the
perspective of the individuals, can be found in Weick’s work (Weick, 2010, p.10), and states that
social relations such as power are the only way to stabilize the shared meaning of reality.
Gergen’s and Weick’s analyses of multiple realities coexisting within one organization seems to
reflect the empirical assessment of a gap separating the perception from the appropriation of the
company’s safety policy by field level people. This gap suggests that the safety reality experienced
at field level differs from the one experienced at headquarters level.
1
The current study is therefore
fully embedded within the social constructionist paradigm, which will be defined as follows: ‘Social
constructionism denies that our knowledge is a direct perception of reality. In fact it might be said
that as a culture or society we construct our own versions of reality between us. [...] All knowledge is
derived from looking at the world from such perspective or other, and is in the service of some
interests rather than others’ (Burr, 2003, p.6). Considering the world as being a pure social
construction denies it an objective reality, the essence of which would be directly (and neutrally)
accessible to people, who may only access it through the mediation of artefacts that they,
individually and as a group, have constructed. As such, social constructionism aims to expose the
specific political, social, historical etc. conditions which orient and construct a specific perception of
reality and which sediment into symbolic and material artefacts. Organizational culture being
precisely a blend of symbolic and material artefacts (for instance, see Hofstede, 2010), social
constructionism appears as particularly adequate to analyze culture under any of its forms in our
case, safety culture.
In particular, the social constructionist paradigm seems useful to explore the gap empirically
observed in the organization’s safety culture: does it stem from a willingness from field-level people
to distance themselves from headquarters and from a felt top-down imposition of knowledge and
rules, a phenomenon already broadly documented by research in safety science and sociology (see
for instance Terssac, 2003). Or, consistent with the social constructionist perspective, may this gap
be attributed to a deeper phenomenon, namely the coexistence of subgroups, which have
developed separately their own specific culture, and subsequently their specific perception of and
relationship with safety? In other words, may this gap between recognition and appropriation of the
organization’s safety policy result from the coexistence of local ‘realities’ alternate (and possibly
unrelated) to that proposed by the organization’s headquarters? As organizations are composed of
individuals who experience and subsequently construct their sense of reality, considering the micro-
level of individual sensemaking appears as a necessary first step to question the macro-level of
sensemaking at the heart of organizational culture. In this perspective, we will be using Weick’s work
to address the micro level, before turning to Berger & Luckmann to reflect on the macro level.
1
HQ level designates the national corporate HQ; it should be mentioned that there are also regional HQs
which relay information between national HQ and field level).

Page 4 of 21
Weick’s theory of sensemaking to analyze how safety and safety policy are enacted
locally
By saying that ‘What sensemaking does is address how the text that is constructed as well as how it
is read. Sensemaking is about authoring as well as reading (Weick, 1995, p.7), Weick asserts the role
played by the individual in the construction of the environment (s)he experiences and the context
(s)he evolves in. It is due to this ‘presupposed pattern’ that people are able to literally make sense of
situations and subsequently act, hence confirming and strengthening the pattern. This retroactive
process of sensemaking > action > pattern confirmation is termed ‘enacting’, which states that
action is an integral part of the reality construction process (see for instance Weick, 1995, p.30). The
enactment phase of sensemaking appears as especially important in a safety culture perspective, as
it is the moment when safety culture materializes into a safe/unsafe action, and is confirmed/denied
as a culture, i.e. a set of beliefs, values, basic assumptions, etc. by said action. As such, action will
play an important part in our research design.
Berger & Luckmann’s model of culture development applied to the organization
In addition to Weick’s theory of sensemaking, we will be using an adjusted version of Berger and
Luckmann’s model of culture development (Figure 1) (see also Guldenmund, 2014, for a similar
adaptation) to help interpret the organizational aspects of our results. The representation of culture
development as a continuous cycle seems particularly useful for our perspective, as sensemaking
and simultaneous construction of reality appear as ongoing, dynamic, never-ending processes.
Indeed according to Follet (quoted in Weick, 1995, p.32), ‘there is no result of process but only a
moment in process’.
Figure 1 Adapted representation of Berger and Luckmann’s model of culture development
1. Experimentation
2. Interaction
3. Institutionalization
4. Internalization
Individual perception of
reality and sensemaking
Mutual adjustments of
perceptions > development of
standard behaviours and
understandings
Basic assumptions,
agreement over the best
(only) way of doing things
Establishment of norms,
institutionalization of behaviour
and expectations
In the first box, ‘Experimentation’, a member of a group experiences a specific situation, of which he
develops his own perceptions and makes specific sense. With regard to risk and safety, these
individual perceptions will partly determine the sensemaker’s behaviour, e.g. what is risky and safe
behaviour. The result of this process is an individual’s understanding of reality. Or, to use Berger and
Luckmann’s words, the stage of ‘reality [...] interpreted by men and subjectively meaningful to them
as a coherent world’ (1966, p.33). Box number two corresponds to the ‘Interaction’ stage, which
may be defined as ‘objectivations of subjective processes (and meanings) by which the

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13,389 citations


Posted Content
Abstract: Discusses the key role of organizational leadership in organizational culture, and the intertwining problems associated with each. Organizational culture is defined as the basic assumptions and beliefs shared by members of an organization. These are learned, operate unconsciously, and essentially define an organization's view of itself and its environment. Though cultural differences are reflected in companies, each company also has an individual culture that modifies local or national cultures. Origins of culture are discussed, especially the entrepreneur's effect on cultural formation, and mechanisms of embedding and reinforcing cultural standards as a means of guiding an evolving company. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective, the book analyzes the maturing research in the field of organization studies - the available ethnographic methods, participant observation, qualitative research, and clinical research. Results indicate that culture functions to solve an organization's basic problems of (a) surviving in the external environment and (b) integrating its internal processes to ensure its continued survival. Since the organizational structure and people's attitudes and perceptions constitute key artifacts of a culture, both these must be changed before the company's overarching cultural change can occur. Typically, change begins at the formative stage as a positive growth force in need of development, evolves into a complex, diverse model of culture, and finally at the point of maturation, often becomes dysfunctional. It is at this point that the leader-usually the entrepreneur - is most crucial, often turning to various change models as a means of sustaining the company. Though the leader's role in cultural formation shifts, such purposeful, foundational change in an organization only occurs rarely in mature companies and under effective leadership. In sum, cultural leadership - and especially the role of the cultural manager - needs to be assessed more clearly in light of the organization's rapidly changing internal and external environment. (CJC)

13,222 citations


Book
01 Jan 1966
Abstract: Publikacijoje apžvelgiama žinojimo sociologijos disciplinos raida, pateikiamos svarbiausios jos nagrinėjamos sąvokos ir tyrimo tikslai. Teigiama, kad tikrovė yra socialiskai konstruojama ir kad žinojimo sociologija turi analizuoti sio konstravimo procesus. Ji turi aiskinti ne tik empirine žinojimo įvairove visuomenėse, bet taip pat ir procesus, dėl kurių bet kuris žinojimas tampa socialiskai pripažinta tikrove. K. Marxo tezė, kad žmogaus sąmone apsprendžia jo socialinė būtis, tapo bazine žinojimo sociologijos teze. Terminą „žinojimo sociologija“įvedė M. Scheleris. Jis teigė, kad visuomenė lemia idėjų būtį, bet ne jų prigimtį ir pabrėžė individualaus žmogiskojo žinojimo aprioriskumą, kuris prasmės sistemą įgyja visuomenėje. K. Mannheimas teigė, kad visuomenė sąlygoja ne tik žmogiskosios idealizacijos formą, bet ir turinį. Jam svarbiausias buvo ideologijos reiskinys. Skyrė partikuliarinės, totalinės ir bendrosios ideologijos sąvokas. R. Mertonas siekė sujungti žinojimo sociologijos ir struktūrinės funkcinės teorijos pozicijas. Autoriai isplecia sios sociolgijos tyrimo objektą teigdami, kad ji turi tirti ne tik idėjų istoriją, bet viską, kas visuomenėje laikoma žinojimu.

10,450 citations


Frequently Asked Questions (2)
Q1. What are the contributions in "The social construction of safety: comparing three realities" ?

This study focuses on the ( development of ) safety culture of a big gas distribution company. The authors assumed that each group may be considered as a specific social world, within which a specific perception of, and relationship with, safety is constructed, and that discourse analysis offers access to this construction. 

In particular, further research could therefore look into a discourse ’ s homogeneity beyond geographical and experiential diversity. It therefore provides sufficient ground for further research based on either a larger or a quite different sample in order to broaden and expand their results. Finally, although the current size of their sample can not provide the full spectrum of discourses on safety within the organization, it provides us with insight into safety discourses currently active within the organization and, maybe more importantly, into the mechanisms underlying their development. The authors believe it contributes to documenting research on organizational culture development and more specifically, on the way a safety culture is articulated within its broader working and organizational context, which it both results from and constructs.