Health promotion in care organizations as material-discursive practices

Beata Segercrantz*, Annamari Tuori, Charlotta Niemistö

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose – Drawing on a performative ontology, this article extends the literature on health promotion in organizations by exploring how health promotion is performed in care work. The focus of the study is on health promotion in a context of illness and/or decline, which form the core of the studied organizational activities. The paper addresses the following question: how do care workers working in elderly care and mental health care organizations accomplish health promotion in the context of illness and/or decline?
Design/methodology/approach – The article develops a performative approach and analyses material-discursive practices in health promoting care work. The empirical material includes 36 semi-structured interviews with care workers, observations and organizational documents.
Findings – Two central material-discursive health promoting practices in care work are identified: confirming that celebrates service users as residents and the organizations as a home, and balancing at the limits of health promotion. The practices of balancing make the limitations of health promotion discernible and involve reconciling health promotion with that which does not neatly fit into it (illness, institutionalization, and unachievable care aims and organizing). In sum, the study shows how health promotion can structure processes in care homes where illness and decline often are particularly palpable.
Originality/value – The paper explores health promotion in a context rarely explored in organization studies. Previous organization studies have to some extent explored health promotion and care work, but typically separately. Further, the few studies that have adopted a performative approach to material-discursive practices in the context of care work have typically focused on IT. We extend previous organization studies literature by producing new insights: (1) from an important organizational context of health promotion and (2) of under-researched entanglements of human and non-human actors in care work providing a performative theory of reconciling organizational tensions.

Keywords – Health promotion, Illness, Material-Discursive Practices, Performativity, Care work, Organizing, Body, Space, Object
Paper type – Research paper
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management : An International Journal
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 10.11.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • health promotion
  • illness
  • material-discursive practices
  • performativity
  • care work
  • organizing
  • body
  • space
  • object

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising


Dive into the research topics of 'Health promotion in care organizations as material-discursive practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this