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Baarts, C (2009) Collective individualism: the informal and emergent dynamics of practising safety in a high-risk work environment. Construction Management and Economics, 27(10), 949–57.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: collectivism; ethnography; individualism; safety; teamwork
  • ISBN/ISSN: 0144-6193
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/01446190903147501
  • Abstract:
    Safety knowledge appears to be ‘a doing’. In construction work safety is practised in the complex interrelationship between the individual, pair and gang. Thus the aim is to explore the nature and scope of individualist and collectivist preferences pertaining to the practice of safety at a construction site. An ethnographic fieldwork, in which the researcher worked as an apprentice, will provide detailed and experience-near insights into the complexity of these processes. Findings show that individualist and collectivist preferences influence the amount of risk the individual worker will assume and expose workmates to. Aspects such as self-regulation, self-confidence and independence are acceptable values only to the extent that they do not pose a threat to the solidarity of the community or safety of other workers. The informal practice of safety is a tight-rope act that involves balancing the form and scope of these preferences.