Control and Resistance
: An exploration of contemporary French writing and film on the effects of globalisation in the workplace

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines cultural production focusing on the workplace. It explores the representations of changes that have taken place over the last four decades against the backdrop of globalisation at the end of the post-war economic boom. By assessing the mechanisms of control in terms of pedagogy and political re-appropriation, it looks at the way writers and film-makers have scrutinised the emergence of a globalised France in which the working classes are less inclined to confront capital.
Its key argument is that the raison d’être of these contemporary ‘whistleblowers’, as they shall be referred to throughout this work, is to give visibility and purpose to the voices of workers and employees who, despite deunionisation and the subsequent crisis of representation and transmission, manage to resist in a socio-economic era disconnected from previous socio-historical landmarks such as the predominantly Marxist grand narrative. It argues that the films and writings analysed share the same purpose, which is to examine the human cost resulting from insidious forms of control and to highlight strategies of atomised yet inspiring deeds of resistance.
This thesis has two focal points. Firstly, it outlines the transformations that have occurred: job losses, casualization and outsourcing, intensification of inequality, just-in-time production, neo-managerialism and bullying. Secondly, it examines how the subject of the workplace is developed in film and literature with an emphasis on character exploration.
It comprises four chapters. Chapter One assesses the mechanisms of control of managerialism induced by neo-liberalism and concentrates on their consequences in the workplace and on the workers. The subsequent three chapters look at the way film-makers and authors tackle the same mechanisms through documentaries, cinema and literature in terms of social significance.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorJim Wolfreys (Supervisor) & Johanna Malt (Supervisor)

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