Violence and Threat in the Workplace: Absenteeism and Discursive Analysis of Absenteeism Policies

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Leippi, Deanna
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This thesis explores the connection between abuse in the workplace and absenteeism. Frontline workers often experience abuse, threats, incivility, humiliation, and they often are the first responder to overdoses and deaths. One question initially explored was whether absenteeism is a form of resistance to abuse. Resistance is explored through an analysis of the four faces of power suggested by Fleming and Spicer (2009). The Interactional and Discursive View of Violence and Resistance (IDVVR) was used to explore how absenteeism is conceptualized and managed in a Housing First workplace. Absenteeism management policies from the union and from the Housing First organization were analysed to explore the question: Could the language used in these policies contribute to the oppressive nature of this work environment? The analysis revealed themes of paternalism, punitiveness, communication and collaboration. Implications for frontline workers include justice doing, as outlined by activist Vikki Reynolds. Managers and organizations are encouraged to name and make explicit the abuse workers experience. Counsellors can use the findings of this study when working with frontline workers who have experienced abuse by honouring their resistance and making clear who is responsible for the abuse.
absenteeism, abuse and violence, incivility, resistance, panopticism
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