Junior Management Science, Volume 7, Issue 4, September 2022, 932-944

The normalizing power of digitalization in the world of work – An analysis based on Michel Foucault’s theory of power

Sebestyén András Huszár, Free University Berlin (Bachelor Thesis)

Digitalization – a power that shapes the whole world and, in particular the world of work anew. Digitalization brings new rules, creates new conditions and establishes new standards. It has a strong normalizing effect. As Michel Foucault describes it in his work Discipline and Punish, normalizing is one of the predominant forms of power. Foucault’s theory of power provides a perspective particularly suited to understand the processes of digitalization. The aim of this paper is to identify the most prominent effects of the normalizing power of digitalization in the world of work. In order to reach this goal, a profound qualitative content analysis is conducted, where articles from the German news magazines Die Zeit and Der Spiegel are analyzed using the method of concept coding. The result of the paper is a comprehensive category system, which describes the complex phenomenon, how digitalization normalizes the world of work. Digitalization converts the local nature of the world of work into global (Globaler Charakter), creates flexible working conditions (Flexibilität) and introduces a new level of connectedness and surveillance (Transparenz und Kontrolle). The paper provides a detailed discussion of the main components of these three categories. Results of the paper show, that digitalization changed the world of work fundamentally through normalization, and employees encounter novel challenges and opportunities.

Keywords: Digitalization; Foucault; normalizing power; worker.