Trapping Safety into Rules. How Desirable or Avoidable is Proceduralization?

Number of pages302
PublisherFarham : Ashgate
Publication date2013

The provocative title of this book aims to encourage interested readers to think of this topic with a renewed perspective. The proceduralization of safety is one axis of a more general trend towards normalization of social interactions and practices, leading to the bureaucratization of everyday life. A phenomenon long envisioned by Max Weber and regularly reassesses and commented by sociologists (Perrow 1991). Proceduralization in a societal context Proceduralization is linked to the general push towards bureaucratization of an ever growing number of social activities. The definition given by Max Weber (1921), along with its predictions and warnings have long proven useful. Although the bureaucratic paradigm has been criticized for not always capturing evolving and unpredictable conditions at organizational level (Gouldner 1954, Crozier 1963), it still retains strong analytical power to describe what is happening to many work and social activities worldwide, across industries and services (Webb 2006). Even commonplace consumption or simple emotions are rationalized and subject to prescribed procedures, notably at the workplace (Blythman 2004, Hochschild 1983, VanMaanen 1999, Bryman 1999). Rules and procedures are key features for a modern organization to function. It is no surprise to see them to be paramount in safety management. Moreover proceduralization is a privileged axis through which bureaucratization operates. Its history is attached to the numerous attempts at tracing, controlling and anticipating social activities. Proceduralization captures two sides that are totally embedded: control on the one hand and explicitation on the other hand. It is no mystery that written procedures not only indicate how jobs should be performed, but they also offer the possibility for management and regulators to control workers'compliance. But they also allow for a formal expression of work practices to emerge, be publicized and discussed (Stinchcombe 2002). Sociologists have long demonstrated that procedures and rules are constraints at one level, but they do offer protection against arbitrary orders, deviant shop practices, poor rules of thumb and inconsistent management. It is often necessary to go beyond rules, yet they also serve as guidelines when the course of action is not easy to find.

  • High Risk
  • Procedures
  • Proceduralization
  • Safety Management
  • Procéduralisation/Proceduralization
  • Régulation/regulation
  • Organisations
  • Sécurity/Safety
  • Standardization/standardisation
Citation (ISO format)
BIEDER, Corinne, BOURRIER, Mathilde. Trapping Safety into Rules. How Desirable or Avoidable is Proceduralization? Farham : Ashgate, 2013.
Main files (1)
Book (Accepted version)
  • PID : unige:86890

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