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Somebody is watching me: framing surveillance as rent-seeking behavior

Albena Dzhurova (School of Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)
Arthur Sementelli (School of Public Administration, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 11 August 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023




This paper examines how contemporary workplace surveillance can simultaneously incentivize and commodify workforce behavior. Specifically, workplace surveillance is reconceptualized as rent-seeking, which offers a framework for analyzing novel employer-employee relationships stemming from alternate views of risk and reward.


The case of workplace microchipping is studied qualitatively as a backdrop for theorizing emergent labor relations in the context of surveillance capitalism and biopolitics.


Reconsidering surveillance within the context of personal risk and entrepreneurial lure offers much to 21st century discourse on labor and supervision. It is imperative that the public sector engages in appropriate regulatory protocols to manage emergent behavior in organizations.


This study departs from the popular conceptualization of human microchipping as an intersection of legal and ethical considerations of surveillance. Instead, the authors examine a different aspect of the microchipping phenomenon, taking into account employee creative reactions to employer surveillance in the context of risk and return.

Peer review

The peer review history for this article is available at:



The authors gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that helped improve this paper.


Dzhurova, A. and Sementelli, A. (2023), "Somebody is watching me: framing surveillance as rent-seeking behavior", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 50 No. 1, pp. 58-72.



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