A study of violence

Australian writer, Jeff Sparrow, recently recently a book that looks at violence and killing , “Killing: A Misadvanture In Violence“.  As part of promoting the book he has been interviewed on several radio shows, the one most relevant to SafetyAtWorkBlog, is the 3CR program, Stick Together, about his book.

Killing_fullcover_NEW.inddSparrow says that he wanted to investigate the “normalisation of killing” and l0oks at occupation which have killing as part of the job.  He analysed the killing of animals through the first-hand experience of kangaroo-shooting and visiting an abattoir.

Sparrow says that the abattoir was very much a factory that deconstructs animals rather than manufacturing items, such as cars.  This will be no revelation to anyone who has read Eric Schlosser’s book, Fast Food Nation, in which he analyses abattoirs, particularly meatpacking, in the context of food production.  Schlosser’s section on the worker safety and compensation processes in the US meat industry is confronting.

They are also possibly more directly relevant to OHS (or heartless capitalism) than Sparrow’s take on abattoirs, although Sparrow does mention how the structure of the workplace “controls the workers”.  This harks back to the dehumanisation of workers for the purpose of productivity where repetition makes the reality of the action of killing or dismemberment, mundane.

In comparison, the roo-shooters have a more detailed understanding of their “craft” because they are working in the wild, where things can go wrong, instead of on the killing floor.

Sparrow also looks at killing that is undertaken in other occupations, such as the defence forces, and workplaces, such as deathrow.  In these contexts Sparrow talks about the industrialisation of the war processes.

Ultimately, from the workplace perspective, Sparrow’s book sounds like an interesting resource for those who study the depersonalisation of the worker, or industrialisation.  For those who work on, or have responsibility for, production lines, this psychological approach to the book may help.

Kevin Jones

A sample chapter of the book is available for download.

Categories book, business, culture, death, manual handling, OHS, Uncategorized, violence, workplaceTags , ,

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