Archive for August, 2012

  1. CFP: From the Sources to the Discourses

    Posted on August 29th, 2012 by Hannah Tweed

    From the Sources to the Discourses: Postgraduate Research Seminar Series

    Call For Papers – Deadline 17th September

    Dear Postgraduate,

    The postgraduate communities of the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian
    University are once again organizing a series of seminars to allow postgraduates a
    forum to discuss their work. These will run in the coming academic year. This series will
    be sponsored by The Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare with further
    funding pending.

    We are keen to ensure a wide variety of papers so we encourage proposals from the
    fields of social and economic history as well as health history. Each session will then
    be organized around a theme and will comprise of 3 papers each lasting around twenty
    minutes.

    This series will give you a chance to not only discuss your work but also to meet other
    postgraduate students from out with your institution. Contributions towards travel and
    accommodation costs will be available.

    Tentative dates for the seminars are:

    25th October 2012

    6th December 2012

    21th February 2013

    18th April 2013

    If you would like to present a paper at one of our seminars please email us a proposal of around 350 words. Please also include your contact details and institutional affiliation.

    Please also include which dates would be most convenient for you. The deadline for submission is Monday the 17th of September

    Please email your proposals, or any questions you may have, to sourcestothediscourses@gmail.com

    Thanks,

    Susan Osbaldstone and Keith Larson (Series Convenors)

  2. Studentship at Glasgow Caledonian University

    Posted on August 15th, 2012 by Hannah Tweed

    PhD Studentship in British Medical Education post 1945

    Glasgow Caledonian University is seeking a suitable candidate for a fully funded (fees plus stipend) PhD studentship in British medical education post 1945.  This will be available as from October 1st 2012 and the Director of Studies will be Dr Anna Jones, Reader in Education, Centre for Lifelong Learning (CRLL).  The other members of the supervisory team will be Professor David Smith (CRLL) and Professor John Stewart (Social Sciences and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare).

    Potential candidates should hold a first degree in History, social science or a cognate subject at 2/1 level or above; and a Masters degree in an appropriate field.

    Enquiries should be made to Dr Anna Jones, anna.jones@gcu.ac.uk 0141 331 3765, as soon as possible.

  3. The Channel 4 Goes Mad Season: a comment on worker disclosure and job design

    Posted on August 14th, 2012 by Hannah Tweed

    Today we have a guest blog from Chris Rossiter, PhD candidate at the University of Surrey and author of the disabilitiesatwork blog (http://disabilityatwork.wordpress.com/).

    ——————————————————————————————-

    Many of us watch the recent C4 ‘4 goes mad’ series of programmes relating to raising awareness of mental health (see http://4goesmad.channel4.com/).  While I do understand some of the criticism leveled at C4, the shows were undoubtedly successful at exposing some of the stereotypes held by employers. During the ‘World’s Madness Job Interview’ programme three employers were clear about not wanting to hire someone with a ‘mental illness’. As Claude Littner, former Chairman and Chief Executive of Amstrad International, put it, “I would be sad for them and I would not employ them”. One in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetimes, according to Time to Change, the group campaigning to end mental health discrimination. In a survey by Mind, one in five of those who disclosed a mental health problem to an employer said they had been fired or forced to leave their job. This might be shocking to some people, but I’m sure it does not come as such a surprise to people with disabilities, whether physical, psychological or physiological.

    The difference between mental health and more ‘physical’ impairments is the extent to which they may be considered visible and apparent. Issues relating to the disclosure of a disability are well documented. Interview candidates with physical disabilities are rated as being more competent, reliable and productive than those with poor mental health, intellectual or learning disabilities and sensory impairments (Farley & Hinman, 1988; Hebl, 1997; Macan & Hayes, 1995). In addition interviewers have reported being more comfortable with an interviewee in a wheelchair (Roberts & Macan, 2006). The general nature (i.e., physical, psychological, or sensory), aesthetic qualities, course (i.e., progression and curability), concealability, origin (i.e., cause), and disruptiveness of a disability determine observers’ reactions to it (Stone & Colella, 1996). Previous research has compared various categories of disabilities and found that nondisabled observers generally prefer interactions with individuals with physical disabilities, followed by sensory disorders, and, lastly, psychological conditions (e.g.,Tringo, 1970); physical disabilities also elicit more positive hiring recommendations and employability ratings (e.g., Premeaux, 2001).

    The lower employment rates of people with disabilities are well known. However what is less prevalent is the discussion of factors that affect employees with a disability already in work. With an increase to the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, increasing longevity and the need to work later in life, the number of people with disabilities in the labour market is set to increase. So, what factors are important and how do they contribute to the work experiences of people with disabilities?

    Going back to the C4 series, some of you may recall that the first programme (with Ruby Wax) followed three individuals who wanted to discuss their mental health with colleagues (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/ruby-waxs-mad-confessions). The job roles of this trio included a head chef, a marketing executive and a product designer. Each had experienced a period of poor mental health that had meant time away from work. The programme concluded with each individual discussing their experiences with colleagues, apparently with no ill effects. The show demonstrated the enormously positive aspects of supervisor and co-worker support, which is shown to mediate a great deal of difficulties in the workplace.

    At face value these stories may suggest that openly disclosing a disability is generally a good thing. However what the programme failed to address is that each of these individuals were highly skilled and in essence of high ‘value’ to their organization. This is important because research suggests that employers who perceive employees as being valuable, that is highly skilled and experienced specialists, are more likely to be more flexible and permit different types of reasonable adjustment (Gewurtz, 2009). Reasonable adjustments are changes that can be made to help support an employee with a disability; these can include changes to the built environment or the provision of specialist equipment, usually involving an external consultant. However the majority of reasonable adjustments are actually made at a local level and involves changes to job tasks and schedules. So for example an employee may be permitted to take additional breaks because of impairment or disability related fatigue. Unlike structural or functional changes, these changes are negotiated between employee and line-manager and would not ordinarily involve a disability specialist. This is noteworthy due to the general lack of awareness of how disability intersects with employment by general managers. Finally the job roles in the programme were those with increased levels of autonomy and low managerial control. These are key features of job design, an area often neglected by disability researchers.

    Autonomy is positively related to work-related behaviours, attitudes, and well-being, and negatively related to absenteeism (Fried & Ferris, 1987; Humphrey et al., 2007; Loher, Noe, & Moeller, 1985; Spector, 1986). When autonomy is increased, individuals gain freedom, independence, and discretion in scheduling work and in determining procedures for task accomplishment (Hackman & Oldham, 1975). Hackman and Oldham (1975) defined autonomy as ‘‘the degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work and in determining the procedures used in carrying out’’ (p. 162). Work autonomy has different aspects such as scheduling autonomy (i.e., the freedom to control scheduling and timing at work) and methods autonomy (i.e., the freedom to control which methods and procedures are utilized; Jackson, Wall, Martin, & Davids, 1993). A high level of autonomy is generally thought to be beneficial at work. A recent meta-analysis (Humphrey et al., 2007) showed that autonomy had a strong relationship with burnout, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and motivation.

    Academics may be considered a valuable, high autonomy, low control archetype. They are likely to be well motivated and conscientious and so do not require high levels of over-sight from a manager. This is a generalized example of course, but it demonstrates how an individual might adjust their working lives according to a variety of factors, including of course a disability. If however one takes the opposite view, of say a low-skilled worker in the service industry (a shop assistant, catering staff or a call centre agent) these positive aspects of job design are reduced or even removed entirely. Many of us will have dealt with a call centre agent who reads a prepared script and seems quite incapable of going beyond the limits of their specified role; that is not a criticism of those individuals, but rather the way in which their jobs are designed and organized. If an employee has targets for processing calls for example, their performance is easily measured and controlled. Managerial processes in these contexts play a very important role because they are far more structured and controlled than the example of an academic. Roles like these are far more stressful, have significantly higher turnover of staff and of course do not require well-developed knowledge, skills and abilities. As such they might be considered as less valuable and easier to replace. Therefore organizations may be reluctant to provide support through reasonable adjustments, which they may consider too costly.

    Organizations of all kinds may have extensive policies and procedures to provide support to employees with a disability. However it is only through the enactment of these policies, acceptance of disability status and an understanding of how disability intersects with work roles and activities, that organizations can become inclusive and accessible. Elements of job design are just as important as the provision of specialist equipment, because without the integration of all of these systems no one solution may be appropriate. However beyond this the role of organizational culture and leadership at the macro level and interpersonal relationship at the micro level, all have a part to play. Unfortunately the resistance of managers to make small changes, at minimal cost, and evaluations of performance may, in part, perpetuate perceptions that employees with a disability are less competent and productive than their non-disabled co-workers.

     

    Chris Rossiter

    Author of the WordPress blog, disabilitiesatwork

    Occupational Psychology PhD Student, University of Surrey

  4. Up and Coming…

    Posted on August 13th, 2012 by Hannah Tweed

    So, all has been quiet at the DSN in the last few weeks, but we now have several guest blogs and collaborative projects looming on the horizon. Look out for posts over the next few weeks on Graeae (a theatre company specialising in disabled access theatre), disabled employment and job design during the recession, and ‘The Secret Life of Staircases’, a post on first-hand experience of the finer points of enabling, aesthetically pleasing, architecture.

    Other topics under consideration are as follows:

    • Inclusive education and the Curriculum For Excellence (Scotland)
    • The Public Gets What the Public Wants: DSM-V terminology and Perceptions of Mental Health
    • Imagining Disability Outside of the Visual In Art
    • Fashioning Disability: Star(r)ing and Self-Presentation
    • Disability in the Workplace
    • Changes to Disability Support in the UK
    • Disability and Theology

    If you have any suggestions for blog post topics that you’d like to read (or write) about, then please let us know!

    We’re also still compiling a list of contributors and interested parties, so if you haven’t yet got in touch with areas of research interest and preferred contact details then please email Hannah (h.tweed.1@research.gla.ac.uk) or Nuala (n.watt.1@research.gla.ac.uk) and we’ll add you to the ‘Members’ Details’ section of the blog.

    H&N