Danger becoming routine: a constructivist approach to the study of occupational risk (a case of coal mine workers in Novokuznetsk)
Keywords:occupational risk, realism, constuctivism, routinization of hazards, safety
The article is devoted to the development of constructivist approach to studying the occupational risk. The author proposes a scheme of conceptual analysis based on theoretical prerequisites of sociology of risk, namely risk inevitability, risk reproduction during interactions, and social causation. The core idea of the scheme states that professional risk is closely tied to the subject making decisions. A special attention is paid to the impact of the “life world” on subject’s perceptions of risks.
The author shows how constructivist approach helps explain such sociological dilemma as divergence between workers’ actual behavior and labor safety regulations.
The empirical basis of the study is 12 semi-structured interviews with the workers of Novokuznetsk coal-mining enterprises. The study reveals that workers’ behavior is defined by their perceptions of acceptable costs and possible benefits. These perceptions, being formed in an environment full of daily hazards, gravitate towards possible benefit under certain circumstances. As a result, those behavior forms which are regarded as violations of safety regulations in terms of realistic approach towards risk analysis, can be routine activities aimed at gaining profit, not necessarily a material one.