Rodrigo Finkelstein is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. His research interests include Marxian political economy, the political economy of information, and health information at work.
Rodrigo’s PhD research is an attempt to provide a more exhaustive and fundamental understanding of workplace health information in a way that increases its discernment and relevance. Following Marx, Rodrigo argues that to understand any phenomenon it is necessary to explore how it arose and developed and how it fits into the larger economic system of which it is a part. Based on this perspective, the category of health information at work is addressed from Marx’s subject/predicate inversion. Rather than divorcing the category from capitalist societies and making it an idea or an autonomous being, the category is brought under the reign of the capitalist mode of production. The starting point of Rodrigo’s critique is the rejection of health information at work as an indeterminate ahistorical abstraction, free from the development of history and the influence of other factors. Health information at work is reconstructed as a determinate historical abstraction, a complex relation that has a history stretching back to the late nineteenth century, intimately linked to the massive deaths, disabling accidents and the tide of injury law suits caused by the capitalist mode of production in its industrial phase. It goes back to the German Act of 1884 that established Workers Compensation Systems’ (WCSs) information process to compensate lost labour power in replacement of a juridical order based on the common law defense. Rodrigo’s research approaches health information at work as part of the social and material conditions that led to WCSs’ operations to exchange lost labour power in the form of information, what Rodrigo dubs the historical confrontation of lost labour power in the form of an informational commodity. It depicts the category not as a thing but as definite social relation of distribution pertaining to a particular historical social formation. The category is addressed as the means of compensation monopolized by a particular section of society, WCSs’ information-intensive activity of commodifying lost labour power.
Rodrigo has a broad experience in health and safety research acquired during his 10 years at the Chilean Safety Association - the largest WCB in Chile. He directed four exploratory studies in the forestry, retail and construction industries to identify major safety trends and support the Prevention Department in the development of strategies and new products. He also conducted three qualitative and two quantitative studies on children between the ages of 6 and 9 years to assist the design and development of the Community Safety Program. Later, as an independent consultant in the field, Rodrigo directed three in-depth organizational studies to help companies in the mining, manufacturing and service sectors in developing safety measures, in line with their own organizational culture.
Rodrigo is the author of Riesgos laborales: una visión cultural [Labour risks: A cultural view] (Editorial Universitaria, 2018).