Accueil > English Supplement > Volume 47, Supplement 1 > Handling relational stress and distance with the public : From the service (...)

Handling relational stress and distance with the public : From the service to the helping relationship - J.-M. Weller

Jean-Marc Weller
Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (Latts), École Nationale des Ponts et chaussées, 6-8, avenue Blaise Pascal, Cité Descartes, 77455 Marne-la-Vallée cedex 2, France

Available online 24 December 2005 on ScienceDirect
doi:10.1016/j.soctra.2005.01.005

Abstract
What kinds of tensions arise in jobs involving human contacts ? And what forms of stress are associated with them ? To answer these questions, the work performed by the activists who receive the public in a major French AIDS organization has been studied. Attention is focused not only on the difficulties that crop up in dealing with the public but also on activists’ theories for explaining them and endowing them with meaning. These theories, which fit into established approaches to “relational stress” and burnout, do not lack contradictions. Referring to studies in the psychopathology of work and adopting an approach in terms of “distributed cognition” can shift discussion toward an original perspective that, without discrediting activists’ explanations, sheds more light on handling relations and adjusting distance with the public.

Keywords
AIDS ; association ; reception work ; burnout ; social service users ; stress ; service relationship ; helping professions ; France

Article Outline

  • 1. Remualdo’s bad jokes
  • 2. Two differing interpretations of relational stress
  • 3. Subjectivity and arrangements
  • 4. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 47, Supplement 1, December 2005, Pages e17–e35
Translation by Noal Mellott