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Surveillance, resistance, observance: Exploring the teleo-affective volatility of workplace interaction


Iedema, R and Rhodes, C and Scheeres, H, Surveillance, resistance, observance: Exploring the teleo-affective volatility of workplace interaction, Organization Studies, 27, (8) pp. 1111-1130. ISSN 0170-8406 (2006) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1177/0170840606064104


Central to the critical study of contemporary management practice has been an understanding of the possibilities for worker subjugation framed in terms of the disciplinary practices of surveillance and responses to it in terms of compliance and resistance. In this paper, we explore how the volatility of everyday interaction also leads to a different response - one we call 'observance'. We introduce this term to refer to the process of identity diversification at work, and to create an analytical-conceptual space that is not fully circumscribed by compliance and resistance. To give the concept of observance empirical flesh, we present an account of team meetings held as part of a quality improvement programme in a manufacturing workplace in Sydney, Australia. We use this account to show how the interpersonal dynamics among team workers led to 'emergent' subject positions and conducts. Capturing the effects of the volatility of everyday workplace interaction, the concept of observance is shown to account for such emergent positioning and reflexivity. Observance enables us to highlight this and also how people exceed the parameters of surveillance, compliance and resistance, especially in relation to participativecommunicative or 'immaterial' forms of work.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Identity; Immaterial labour; Observance; Resistance; Situated interaction; Surveillance; Teleo-affectivity
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Strategy, management and organisational behaviour
Research Field:Organisation and management theory
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Iedema, R (Professor Rick Iedema)
ID Code:96601
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:35
Deposited By:Health Sciences B
Deposited On:2014-11-12
Last Modified:2014-11-12

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