More than a Machine at Work: Exploring the Impacts of Technological Change on Mental Health
Authors: Liliana Cunha, Daniel Silva, Sarah Maggioli
Abstract: With the current technological transformations being developed, the focus seems to rely mainly on the increase of productivity and on promises of the reduction of physical constraints for workers. However, in the analysis of the new human-machine relationships induced by technological advances, other less visible impacts should be debated, namely for workers’ health and well-being. In a garment factory in Portugal, characterized by rigorous quality demands, sectored and short production cycles, with production times controlled by the minute, this study aims to analyze human-machine interactions from the point of view of their protagonists. A qualitative and participatory methodology was used (observations; individual and collective interviews; and moments of auto-confrontation). The results show how these work situations potentiate a "contained" suffering due to the lack of space for its verbalization, which ends up being managed individually, under penalty of being considered unfit for the work’s current demands.
Keywords: Industry 4.0, Human-machine relationship, Mental health, Protective and fragilizing factors
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