© 2018

Humans and Machines at Work

Monitoring, Surveillance and Automation in Contemporary Capitalism

  • Phoebe V. Moore
  • Martin Upchurch
  • Xanthe Whittaker
  • Examines how new forms of surveillance are being adopted into contemporary work

  • Draws from original empirical research engaging with existing and emerging fields of social enquiry

  • Discusses the occurrence of surveillance and new forms of measure of work in a range of industries

  • Includes supplementary material:

Palgrave Macmillan

Part of the Dynamics of Virtual Work book series (DVW)

About this book


In the era of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, we increasingly work with machines in both cognitive and manual workplaces. This collection provides a series of accounts of workers’ local experiences that reflect the ubiquity of work’s digitalisation. Precarious gig economy workers ride bikes and drive taxis in China and Britain; domestic workers’ timekeeping and movements are documented; call centre workers in India experience invasive tracking but creative forms of worker subversion are evident; warehouse workers discover that hidden data has been used for layoffs; academic researchers see their labour obscured by a ‘data foam’ that does not benefit them; and journalists suffer the algorithmic curse. These cases are couched in historical accounts of identity and selfhood experiments seen in the Hawthorne experiments and the lineage of automation.

This collection will appeal to scholars in the Sociology of Work and Digital Labour Studies and anyone interested in lea

rning about monitoring and surveillance, automation, the gig economy and the quantified self in the workplace.


Surveillance Control Burnout Analytics Productivity Digitalisation Self-tracker devices Gig economy Time keeping Data foam Quantified self

Editors and affiliations

  • Phoebe V. Moore
    • 1
  • Martin Upchurch
    • 2
  • Xanthe Whittaker
    • 3
  1. 1.Middlesex UniversityLondonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Business SchoolMiddlesex UniversityLondonUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.University of LeicesterLondonUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Phoebe V. Moore works at Middlesex University London. She is an internationally known researcher and lecturer who writes about labour, technology and global governance. 

Martin Upchurch is Professor of International Employment Relations at Middlesex University London. He has published more than 40 articles in the field of labour studies and industrial relations.

Xanthe Whittaker is a post-graduate student in the School of Management at the University of Leicester. Her doctoral research is an ethnographic study of digital journalism in the UK and her research interests include the digitalisation of work, atypical work, and labour process analysis.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Humans and Machines at Work
  • Book Subtitle Monitoring, Surveillance and Automation in Contemporary Capitalism
  • Editors Phoebe V. Moore
    Martin Upchurch
    Xanthe Whittaker
  • Series Title Dynamics of Virtual Work
  • Series Abbreviated Title Dynamics of Virtual Work
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-58231-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-86354-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-58232-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVI, 260
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 2 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Sociology of Work
    Digital/New Media
    Organizational Studies, Economic Sociology
    Science and Technology Studies
    Social Policy


“This book is a great read for anyone interested in learning about monitoring and surveillance of the workforce using digital technologies. This book will also appeal to scholars in the field of ethics in the workplace, sociology of work, and digital labor studies.” (Swatee B. Kulkarni, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 161, 2020)