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Towards constructing the governable worker in nineteenth-century Britain

Edwards, John Richard 2018. Towards constructing the governable worker in nineteenth-century Britain. Critical Perspectives On Accounting 50 , pp. 36-55. 10.1016/j.cpa.2017.05.001

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Abstract

The governable worker, in Britain, is defined by the existing literature as a creation of the scientific management movement of the early twentieth century and, within the accounting domain, through standard costing as a disciplinary practice. This paper studies actions taken by the administrators and managers of Britain’s government military manufacturing establishments (GMMEs), from the 1850s onwards, to create a more governable workforce. This objective was achieved through the imposition of disciplinary practices, most importantly the use of time records to ensure attendance at the workplace and expert knowledge-based piece rates to monitor and control labour intensity. The absence of scientifically-established labour standards at GMMEs is acknowledged but, in other important respects, accounting is shown to have played a key role in the formulation of disciplinary practices designed to construct a governable labour force some decades before standard costing became the mechanism for rendering visible efficiency within the workplace.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Uncontrolled Keywords: Accounting, Foucault, Governable worker, Piece rates
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1045-2354
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 May 2017
Date of Acceptance: 1 May 2017
Last Modified: 30 Dec 2018 02:33
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/100311

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