Situating workplace surveillance: Ethics and computer based performance monitoring [Book Review]

Ethics and Information Technology 3 (3):209-221 (2001)
This paper examines the study of computer basedperformance monitoring (CBPM) in the workplaceas an issue dominated by questions of ethics.Its central contention paper is that anyinvestigation of ethical monitoring practice isinadequate if it simply applies best practiceguidelines to any one context to indicate,whether practice is, on balance, ethical or not. The broader social dynamics of access toprocedural and distributive justice examinedthrough a fine grained approach to the study ofworkplace social relations, and workplaceidentity construction, are also important here. This has three implications, which are examinedin the paper, and are as follows: First, thatit is vital for any empirical investigation ofthe ethics of CBPM practice to take intoaccount not only its compliance withpreexisting best practice guidelines, butalso the social relations which pervade thecontext of its application. Second, that thisnecessitates a particular epistemologicaltreatment of CBPM as something whose effectsare measurable and identifiable, as well assomething which has a socially constructedmeaning and is tropic in nature. Third, thatexisting debates against which this argument isset, which regard contrasting epistemologiesand ontologies as incompatible, should beaddressed, and an alternative introduced. Introducing situated knowledges (Haraway 1991)and material semiotic ontologies as such analternative, the paper proceeds to analyse theethics of a particular case of monitoringpractice, Norco. Drawing on Marx (1998) thepaper concludes that a fine grain analysis ofthe social is vital if we are to understandfully the ethics of monitoring in theworkplace.
Keywords Computer Science   Ethics   User Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction   Management of Computing and Information Systems   Library Science   Technology Management
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DOI 10.1023/A:1012291900363
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