Who owns your sickness in the new corporate wellness?
Media and Cultural Studies Centre, University of Queensland.
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Communications and Multimedia
Workplace wellness programs raise the question: Who owns the health and sickness of the employee? Once, they belonged to the person and his/her doctor, in a kind of binary health relationship. Now companies have made it a triangular relationship. But actually, it's rectangular - the government is also shaping this relationship by occupying a fourth corner. As Nikolas Rose (1989) points out in his exploration of the place of individual in the corporate state, history suggests that it might be the government whose corner is dominant. Rose notes that "Taylorism", the scientific pursuit of maximum efficiency of human labour which was fashionable early last century, is now seen not just as the creation of industrialists like Henry Ford. Much more broadly, it reflected a philosophy current in the western industrialised nations like the US, UK and Germany. Achieving optimum output from men and machines was "part of a wide family of political programmes that sought to use scientific knowledge to advance national efficiency through making the most productive use of material and human resources."