Foucault: A Critical Alternative in Labor Process Theory
In building theory, however, we must acknowledge that Foucault's discussion of the panopticon was only a very small part of the work he produced over a thirty-year period.(3) Embracing the broader sweep of Foucault's work enables us to counter some of the significant limitations of Braverman's treatment of labor process theory while retaining his critical thrust, even in the face of new developments like teamwork, electronic workplace surveillance, and the limited reintegration of mental and manual work.
Thompson and Ackroyd (1995) rightly argued that this position can lead to an obsessive focus on the effectiveness of systems of surveillance at the expense of the traditional issues of labor process theory, such as the underlying reasons for increased control and the ways in which it might be resisted.
They attempted to answer the traditional rhetorical question of labor process theory, why do people work as hard as they do (Peck, 1982)?
It introduces a critical edge from labor process theory to examine processes of domination and power to understand structural characteristics of the workplace and the group dynamics of teamwork under contemporary systems of control.
In situations like this, research inspired by the chimerical model is likely to reveal subtle nuances in the way that surveillance combines with peer scrutiny to control teamwork in an unobtrusive manner.(8) This serves to open up labor process theory to the insights that organizational psychology can bring to the study of resocialized working arrangements by examining the effects of surveillance on the nature of intersubjective relations in teams.