From ‘common observation’ to behavioural risk management: workplace surveillance and employee assistance 1914–2003
Hansen, S. (2004) From ‘common observation’ to behavioural risk management: workplace surveillance and employee assistance 1914–2003. International Sociology, 19 (2). pp. 151-171.
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This article seeks to introduce a new site for surveillance studies. While a considerable body of literature has been devoted to the issue of workplace surveillance, little if any attention has been paid to the 'caring cousin' of workplace monitoring practices - employee assistance programmes. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) work in concert with other forms of workplace monitoring, to identify threats to productivity. However, EAPs seek not only to identify, as do electronic and traditional modes of workplace monitoring, those workers who are, through their observable conduct, behaving in an unproductive or not optimally productive manner, they also seek to detect and address potential problems, or workers at particular risk of becoming unproductive, and to encourage the prophylactic treatment of such risks through 'employee assistance'. In this attention to the detection of problems in potentia, EAPs are one of a family of peculiarly postindustrial surveillance technologies concerned with foresight, and with preventative systems of social administration.
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