Discursive Analysis of Burnout in the Abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory
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The purpose of this research was to explore the possibility that burnout is a response to workplace abuse. The literature review revealed systemic factors that contribute to burnout including; oppressive workloads, workplace violence and a hidden curriculum of abuse. Discursive analysis using the Interactional and Discursive View of Violence and Resistance (IDVVR) was applied to the Abbreviated Maslach Burnout Inventory (AMBI). The results describe that using the AMBI oppressive, abusive, violent and unsafe working conditions are obscured while the systemic responsibility for dignity and safety is obfuscated. In addition the AMBI conceals the victim’s resistance and the negative social responses to abuse that blame the victimized worker by pathologizing them as burned out. The results show that the language of the AMBI describes burnout in terms of negative effects that are internalized and individualized whereas the IDVVR analysis shifts the terms from effects to actions and reveals responses of resistance in attempt to enhance sustainability and survival. Through a systems lens burnout might be contextualized as a systemic problem of institutionalized abuse. The conclusion is that the problem of burnout may be inextricably linked to the linguistic representations of burnout. Describing the concept of burnout as either an individual or institutional problem has implications for the direction of resources since burned out individuals might require personal remediation whereas oppressive institutions might require systemic interventions for change. A contextual systemic perspective provides the opportunity for a broader multidimensional inclusion of both individual and institutional interventions to simultaneously heal the perpetrator and the victim.