Remapping worker citizenship in contemporary occupational health and safety regimes

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Abstract

The article draws on the rapidly growing field of citizenship studies to map and explore the dynamics of contemporary occupational health and safety (OHS) regulation. Using two key dimensions of OHS regulation (protection and participation), the author constructs four ideal types of worker citizenship (market, public, private industrial, and public industrial citizens). Historically, workers have been written into OHS regulatory regimes in each of these ways. Most recently lawmakers have created a new species of OHS regimes, best described as mandated partial self-regulation. Its distinguishing characteristic is its flexibility, such that worker citizenship can take on any of the forms previously described, often without changing the statutory framework. Using Ontario as an example, the study finds that in the late 20th century, workers made significant strides toward public industrial citizenship and, surprisingly, even under a neoconservative government, workers successfully defended their participatory rights and saw their right to protection modestly strengthened through increased enforcement. The conditions under which this regime operates, however, constantly threaten to undermine the efficacy of worker participation rights and to weaken the enforcement effort. Some suggestions are made about using a citizenship discourse to revitalize the worker OHS movement and strengthen OHS rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-170
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

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