Economics at your fingertips  

Repressive authenticity in the quest for legitimacy: Surveillance and the contested illness lawsuit

Tarryn Phillips

Social Science & Medicine, 2012, vol. 75, issue 10, 1762-1768

Abstract: When seeking compensation for workplace injury, workers predictably face examination over the legitimacy of their condition from employers and medical and legal professionals. When the alleged injury is a contested environmental illness, the suspicion aroused and the scrutiny faced by workers is much more acute. In this paper, I analyse the medico-legal experiences of eight chemically sensitive claimants in Australia to reveal the nature and extent of the surveillance they are subjected to in their quest to prove the legitimacy of their disease. Four forms of surveillance are identified: medical scrutiny; legal surveillance, insurer investigation, and self-regulation. Advancing the Foucauldian concept of self-surveillance, I demonstrate that this latter form of regulation has the most deleterious impact on the claimants. The result of this scrutiny is a ‘repressive authenticity’ (Wolfe, 1999), where the chemically sensitive are expected to adhere to a particular normative ideal of sickness, which becomes therapeutically counterproductive.

Keywords: Australia; Contested illness; Workers' compensation; Surveillance; Legitimacy; Multiple chemical sensitivities; Risk; Authenticity; Insurance (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
http://www.elsevier. ... _01_ooc_1&version=01

Access Statistics for this article

Social Science & Medicine is currently edited by Ichiro (I.) Kawachi and S.V. (S.V.) Subramanian

More articles in Social Science & Medicine from Elsevier
Series data maintained by Dana Niculescu ().

Page updated 2017-09-29
Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:10:p:1762-1768