Control and Surveillance in Work Practice: Cultivating Paradox in ‘New’ Modes of Organizing

François-Xavier De Vaujany*, Aurélie Leclercq-Vandelannoitte, Iain Munro, Yesh Nama, Robin Holt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    The new world of work is being characterized by the emergence of what are, apparently, increasingly autonomous ways of working and living. Mobile work, coworking, flex of-fice, platform-based entrepreneurship, virtual collaborations, Do It Yourself (DIT), re-mote work, digital nomads, among others trends, epitomize ways of organizing work practice that purportedly aligns productivity with freedom. But most ethnographical research already reveals many paradoxical experiences associated with these new prac-tices and processes. Indeed, it appears that with autonomy comes surveillance and con-trol, to a point where, as Foucault observed way back, subjectivity and subject become synonyms, and the current pandemic both strengthens and makes visible this situation. In this introduction to the special issue we make a foray into this situation, using four open and related themes developed in the five papers we selected: managerial control and technology; surveillance and platform capitalism; time and space; and new organi-zational forms and autonomy. Paradoxical movements are identified for each of them, before we conclude by reflecting on a grounding paradox which appears at the center of this special issue and the themes it covers.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalOrganization Studies
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)675-695
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - May 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Published online: 6 Apr 2021.


    • Control systems
    • New forms of organizing
    • New ways of working
    • Organizational control
    • Remote work
    • Surveillance capitalism
    • Surveillance

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