Laboratory of Work Psychology and Action

Presentation :

Created in 1990 at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts by Christophe Dejours, the laboratory of work psychology has changed its name to Laboratory of Work Psychology and Action in 2000. The change of name reflects a change in the conception of work, which has progressively freed itself of clinical investigations and theoretical progress. These progresses are mostly due to debates internal to the laboratory. However, they are also influenced by continuous controversies with other fields of research such as sociology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, ergonomy, occupational medicine and psychiatry.

Initially, research focused on breaches of mental health dues to work situations. It then broadened its scope to the analysis of best conditions for work to foster construction of health and "normality". Finally, knowledge acquired about the links between subjectivity and activity contributed to the renewal of the theoretical debate about the concept of work and work organization, as well as the concept of "human factor" in security, safety, quality and cooperation.

By its methods and epistemological basis, the psychology of work and action is not an applied science : theoretical knowledge of the human being is not initially produced in the laboratory to then be used or adapted during field work. Research initiates on the field, in concrete situations, when conceptual questions are raised that are insufficiently or not at all treated in reference theories of work sciences.

If the separation of work and action is analytically sound and rooted in the philosophical as well as the sociological tradition, it needs to be questioned when it comes to understanding ordinary work situations. To work is not only to produce : it is also to live together, and eventually to cooperate. Both living together and cooperating belong to the theoretical field of action. The nature of the links that emerge through work and the necessity to work together largely determines the destiny of sufferance, intelligence and subjectivity. These links have consequences on the quality of work as well as on mental health. On the long run, they impact the construction and transformation of society. The individual, work and action are theoretically and practically linked. These links can be analyzed scientifically and coherently : this analysis is the theoretical foundation of psychology of work and action.


The main themes of the laboratory are the following :

- mental disorders linked to work (psychopathology of work)

- the role of work in the construction and deterioration of health (psychodynamics of work)

- origins of subjective mobilization at work

- links between subjectivity, division of labor and gendered social relations

- analysis of the links between subjectivity and activity

- links between affectivity and cognition at work

- the "human factor" in security, safety, quality and work organization

- links between subjectivity, work, domination and emancipation


Field research projects :

They are initiated according to the requests addressed to the laboratory by private and public companies, administrations, public services, committees for hygiene, security and working conditions, trade unions, professional organizations and organizations of practitioners. The laboratory answers requests for researches, studies and expertises. Some projects are conducted in cooperation with research teams from other laboratories.


Scientific collaborations :

The laboratory benefits from privileged relations with several laboratories in France as well as abroad :

Centre de Recherche Sens, Ethique, Société (CERSES — UPR 9058 du CNRS, Paris).

Groupe d’Études sur la Division Sociale et Sexuelle du Travail (GEDISST -CNRS, PARIS)

Marché du Travail et Genre (MAGE/IRESCO — GDR 1176 — CNRS)

Analyse pluridisciplinaire des situations de travail (Université d’Aix en Provence).

Laboratoire d’ergonomie et neurosciences du travail (CNAM, Paris)

Laboratoire d’ergonomie (EPHE, Paris)

CREAPT (Paris).

Université Laval à Québec (Canada).

Université de Montréal (Canada).

Faculdade de medicina de Sao Paulo (Brésil)


Publication :

The laboratory publishes a scientific journal : " Travailler " (Revue internationale de psychodynamique et de psychopathologie du travail). Martin Média Editeur.