My supervisor has asked me to start thinking about my chapter layouts and I can say, at this early stage I’m struggling with how this might look.
The part I’m struggling with is the “emancipation” part of my research question. The more I read the further I seem to be straying from any concept of emancipation. There are three major concepts that are jumping out about employees and private blogs and they are power/knowledge, surveillance (feeds back into power/knowledge), and free speech. I’ll attempt to explain here how they might fit into my thesis, but whether they can be worked up into a chapter in their own right is another question, although I believe they probably can.
I’m reading and writing about Foucault’s concept of power/knowledge, particularly his article The Subject and Power. I think I could build up an argument about the manner in which companies employ a constant gaze through technologies of surveillance (RSS, Bots, web crawlers, Technorati alerts) that objectify individual employees and submit their blogs and themselves to examination. There are a number of notions here about the importance to power of the pre-existence of the essential freedom of the individual to create a relation of power, and this could matter could be explored more fully. By this I mean that, in most advanced democracies free speech is considered to be a basic human right, and in many companies free speech receives numerous platitudes in company mission statements. The issue though is the manner in which companies respond to individuals who chose to avail themselves of this human right bringing. Here is where the strategies of power come into play through a series of steps used to limit a person’s free expression.
The chapter might address some of these questions:
- How do companies use surveillance technologies as a means to increase the field of visibility and therefore expand their domain of power?
- In what ways to employees become subjects of power relations and how does the agonism of power relations show up?
- What broader categories of knowledge are at play in determining the “normal”. Here I refer to those assumptions that are at play that are go unquestioned in an employment relationship (I pay you wages and therefore can tell you what you will and won’t say about my company)
As I write this, a very rough and unedited stream of thought (TOL – thinking out loud) I’m thinking that what I may have just described is my whole thesis. My general theme would then be power relations between organisations and employees with private blogs. Maybe my chapters would be:
- A detailed exploration of Foucault’s concept of power/knowledge (possibly including Deleuze as his theories relate to surveillance).
- The case for free speech – why it’s important, what it means.
- How employees with private blogs lose their free speech through the expansion of domains of power.
My thesis question/statement would read:
- Do employees risk losing their right to free speech by maintaining private blogs?