Deconstruction of Power: An Ethical Response to Organizational Surveillance


Technological surveillance in the workplace today is alarmingly amplified raising more ethical apprehensions. The two major ethical approaches to surveillance, ‘coercive control’ and ‘caring’ (Sewell & Barker 2006), demonstrate power relationships and are vehemently criticized in respect to individual privacy, autonomy and dignity (Solove 2008, Nissenbaum 2010, Moore 2010). The dilemma, however, is that most authors unilaterally focus on individual rights, and risk to overlook the social impact and the social consequences of surveillance. While acknowledging the different possibilities of addressing the issue, the paper analyses the fundamental social challenges and implications of surveillance in the workplace in dialogue with Lyon’s concept of surveillance as “social sorting” (Lyon 2003). This concept allows us to think beyond Foucault’s disciplinary society, according to which persons are “normalized” by their categorical locations (Foucault 1975), as well as beyond Deleuze’s argument of “society of control” (Deleuze 1992). Hence a proposal of a more adequate work-ethics on the basis of a framework of “care-justice” or a synthesis of ‘culture of care’ (Stoddart 2011) and ‘social justice’ over against the ‘culture of power’. We will argue and identify, in opposition to power relations, how the combination of care and justice can serve as a useful hermeneutical key to reconcile the dichotomy between the conflicting rights and interests arising from the use of surveillance in the workplace.

Author Information
Jijo James Indiparambil, KU Leuven, Belgium

Paper Information
Conference: ECERP2015
Stream: Ethics - Business and Management Ethics

This paper is part of the ECERP2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon