Seeing, Showing Off and Being Seen: On the Ramifications of Panoptical Surveillance in Contemporary Society

40 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2010

Date Written: January, 11 2010

Abstract

Surveillance is often considered as a hallmark of today’s society. This paper examines how professionals and professional service firms react to increased formalization of surveillance mechanisms, and discusses implications ensuing from their reactions. To carry out the investigation we rely on data gathered in two distinct empirical settings: the use of a knowledge management system in a law firm; and the imposition of a regulatory requirement on public accounting firms. Our analysis stresses that targets of surveillance are not docile bodies. They can divert and circumvent surveillance mechanisms in unpredictable ways but can also, paradoxically, actively participate in the structuring of their own surveillance. Broadly speaking, this research points to the need to consider the notion of panoptical surveillance from angles that recognize the ambiguities, complexities, and unpredictability of human institutions. Important implications arise from the unpredictable ramifications of panoptic control, from a societal as well as from a research viewpoint.

Keywords: Collegial control, Panopticon, Professional Service Organizations, Regulation

JEL Classification: L84

Suggested Citation

Brivot, Marion and Gendron, Yves, Seeing, Showing Off and Being Seen: On the Ramifications of Panoptical Surveillance in Contemporary Society (January, 11 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1534682 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1534682

Marion Brivot (Contact Author)

Université Laval ( email )

2325, rue de la Terrasse
Quebec, Quebec G1V0A6
Canada
4186562131(ext. 3199) (Phone)

Yves Gendron

Université Laval ( email )

Faculte des sciences de l'administration
2325 rue de la Terrasse, Local 2636
Quebec City, Quebec G1V 0A6
Canada
418-656-2131 ext. 2431 (Phone)
418-656-7746 (Fax)

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