Surveillance in and around Organizations
Open University Business School (UK)
Manchester Business School (UK)
University of Melbourne (Australia)
University of Sydney (Australia)
Call for papers
Organizations and surveillance are virtually synonymous. Since the industrial revolution, urbanization and the growth of bureaucracy, information gathering, information management and knowledge of files by organizations has been a source of competitive advantage and central to organizational life. Surveillance in organizations is a matter of bureaucratic efficiency. It is normal, is often accepted, and even welcomed by organizational members. Highlighting the consequences of surveillance upsets the neat, rational, managerial principles upon which it is founded. These principles dictate that if one can measure and monitor a phenomenon, it can be controlled and predicted. Surveillance has social and community impacts which go beyond commercial interests which are rarely considered by its proponents. Its consequences include undemocratic social ordering, social exclusion, the erosion of trust, choice and participation, and the evasion of accountability and transparency.
Organizations have always been agents of surveillance and are implicated in a wide variety of surveillance networks. Private organizations are involved in government responses to social problems (e.g. the UK’s DNA database) and national security issues (e.g. international no fly lists) which are based on surveillance. Mass customisation and the proliferation of personal data by organizations perpetuates mass surveillance of the consumer population (e.g. through loyalty cards and internet cookies); public liability and productivity concerns mean that workers are also a target. Surveillance progresses debates about the nature of organizational control as organizations continue to access their employees' private worlds in overt and covert ways. Information from workers' bodies is sought in, for example, the use of biometrics. Practices of e-recruitment categorise and target potential employees, yet embody a whole range of biases for which organizations are not held responsible. Employers in Europe and the US are beginning to dismiss employees for blogging about their employers on private servers outside work time. Call centres are becoming a target for organized crime involving personal data theft.
Surveillance practices in organizations implicate some fundamental debates within organization theory and the wider social sciences. The cultural, technological and ethical significance of these practices has been identified by writers from across diverse social science disciplines: economics, sociology, science and technology studies, urban geography and organization theory. In this sub-theme we seek to gather disparate work on surveillance in and around organizations to further debate about this issue.
Theoretical and empirical papers about the following issues are invited for submission:
- Surveillance, organizations and crime
- Surveillance, organizations, information warfare and national security
- Surveillance, privacy, rights, ethics and boundaries in organizations
- Organizational cultures of surveillance
- The organization of surveillance infrastructures
- Surveillance and the body
- Person to person surveillance in organizations
- The political economy of personal information
- Resisting and dissimulating surveillance
- Methodologies for studying surveillance in and around organizations
- Risk, trust and social orders under surveillance
- Virtual organizing, non co-present working and surveillance
- The experience of surveillance
Blatantly uncritical references to the Panopticon will be automatically rejected!
Haggerty, K. & R. Ericson (2006): The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Lyon, D. (ed.) (2006): Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond. Willan: Collumpton.
Surveillance Studies Network (2006): A Report on the Surveillance Society.
Available free to download at:
Appendices are at: www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/practical_application/
About the convenors
Kirstie Ball is Senior Lecturer in Organization Studies at the Open University Business School. Her research interests focus on the use of employee surveillance techniques in and around organizations, and surveillance in society at large.
Damian Hodgson is Senior Lecturer in Organizational Analysis at Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. His research centres on issues of accountability, control, self-discipline, resistance and subversion in the workplace.
Graham Sewell is Professor of Organization Studies and Human Resource Management at the University of Melbourne. His research focuses on how conceptions of social control as a form of localized containment hold up in a putative 'surveillance society'.
Christopher Wright is Associate Professor of Organisational Studies in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on organisational and technological change, managerial identity, and the diffusion of management practice.