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Beyond panopticism: On the ramifications of surveillance in a contemporary professional setting

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Beyond panopticism: On the ramifications of surveillance in a contemporary professional setting

Brivot, Marion and Gendron, Yves (2011) Beyond panopticism: On the ramifications of surveillance in a contemporary professional setting. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 36 (3). pp. 135-155. ISSN 03613682

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aos.2011.03.003

Abstract

This paper provides fieldwork evidence, which solidifies an emerging view in literature,regarding the limitations of the panoptical metaphor in informing meaningfully and
productively the analysis of contemporary surveillance and control. Our thesis is that the panopticon metaphor, which conceives of the organization as a bounded enclosure made
up of divisible, observable and calculable spaces, is becoming less and less relevant in the age of contemporary surveillance technologies. Through a longitudinal socio-ethnographic study of the ramifications of surveillance ensuing from the implementation of a computerized
knowledge management system (KMS) in a Parisian tax/law firm, our analysis points to the proliferation of lateral networks of surveillance having developed in the aftermath
of implementation. In this complex and unstable constellation of rhizomatical controls, peers are involved in scrutinizing the validity of one another’s work, irrespective of the office’s hierarchies and official lines of specialization. As a result, games of visibility (exhibitionism), observation (voyeurism) and secrecy (hiding one’s work from the KMS) abound in the office.
One of our main conclusions is to emphasize the pertinence of apprehending control and surveillance from angles that take into account the ambiguities, complexities and
unpredictability of human institutions, especially in digitalized environments.

Divisions:Concordia University > John Molson School of Business > Accountancy
Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Authors:Brivot, Marion and Gendron, Yves
Journal or Publication:Accounting, Organizations and Society
Date:2011
Keywords:Collegial control; Information technology; Knowledge management; Panopticon; Professional service organizations; Surveillance.
ID Code:7741
Deposited By:ROSARIE COUGHLAN
Deposited On:24 Jul 2011 17:14
Last Modified:24 Jul 2011 17:14
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