Gains from resistance: rejection of a new digital technology in a healthcare sector workplace

Elena Shulzhenko, Jens Holmgren

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The issue of spaces for non-organised employee resistance has attracted renewed attention due to the diffusion of new digital technologies in the workplace. The ability of new technologies to measure and restrict employee behaviour in new ways requires explanations of resistance that account for both technology’s material characteristics and employee agency, without descending into technological determinism. This article is based on a case of effective resistance to a new data reporting technology introduced in home nursing in Denmark and explores the causes, forms and outcomes of the resistance. In this study, labour process theory is complemented with Edwards and Ramirez’s classification of dimensions of technological change. The study argues that two dimensions are important for effective employee resistance to technology: contestation of the unintended rather than the intended effects of the technology and the non-immanence of the effects in the technology, which allows the employees to reconstitute it in use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Technology, Work and Employment
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)276-296
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • digitalisation
  • employee agency
  • healthcare sector
  • materiality
  • nurses
  • power
  • resistance
  • technology


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