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Disciplinary Practice : A Study of Railways in Britain, 1860-1988

Edwards, Paul and Whitston, Colin (1994) Disciplinary Practice : A Study of Railways in Britain, 1860-1988. Work, Employment & Society, 8 (3). pp. 317-337. ISSN 0950-0170

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Official URL: 10.1177/095001709483001


Does disciplinary practice by employers evolve over time? Not only conventional analyses of discipline but also Foucauldian theories assume that it does. Three features may be tested: the rate of discipline (which should fall); the types of behaviour punished (which should reflect the maintenance of routine); and the dynamics of the process (which should indicate a rationalised approach and the absence of disciplinary purges). Yet there are very few studies of the process. One previous study of the US textile industry found a remarkable continuity between the early nineteenth and late twentieth centuries. The present analysis confirms this finding in the very different context of British railways: though types of behaviour subject to discipline were as expected, the rates of action in the late twentieth century were similar to those of the nineteenth, and the dynamics of the process in both periods contradicted an image of rationalisation. The paper also examines links between formal rules and workplace practice. Some findings, for example the particular ways in which rules and practice were connected, are specific to railways. Others, notably the unchanging dynamics of discipline, have a more general relevance and challenge evolutionary assumptions.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics > Discipline
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ni Mhaicin
Date Deposited: 22 May 2014 18:36
Last Modified: 22 May 2014 18:36

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