Applying principles of sociotechnical systems onto working environment research
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNordic Journal of Working Life Studies. 2017, 7 (S2), 51-65.
The sociotechnical system approach induced a consistent system thinking into the Scandinavian working life research. Workers’ social and psychological needs and technical/systemic conditions were seen as deeply interdependent. However, a distinct field of working environment research, dominated by individual and psychological perspectives, has developed. Indeed, working life itself has undergone substantial transformations. In the shift from first to second modernity (sensu Ulrich Beck), new phenomena (risks) have emerged that challenge workers’ health. This paper discusses the potential of the sociotechnical approach to inspire the specific field of working environment research. Sociotechnical ideas are concerned about the organizational aspects of the working environment and this can challenge the dominance of individual and psychology-centred research. However, it is also necessary to renew the sociotechniocal tradition from within. We suggest a general process of a reflexive modernization of sociotechnical ideas and a stronger connection to the ‘double-hermeneutic’ as an epistemological outset.