An Investigation into the Phenomenon and Discourse of Working Out Loud.

Crump, Helen (2017). An Investigation into the Phenomenon and Discourse of Working Out Loud. MRes thesis The Open University.



Working Out Loud is a recent phenomenon that refers to a range of digital and networked practices that purportedly offer a range of benefits to both individuals and organisations. Within the changing context of work, emphasis is placed on digital skills, networks and learning, with individuals increasingly assuming responsibility. Within this, Working Out Loud has been hailed as an essential 21st century digital workplace skill (Hinchcliffe, 2015). Given such claims, and that knowledge of the phenomenon is nascent within the literature, Working Out Loud is deemed a suitable topic of research.

Review of the literature and scrutiny of the phenomenon’s claims revealed a number of what might be termed ‘structural tensions’ that were seemingly presented as unproblematic. Given that the phenomenon is situated in a historically antagonistic relationship of capital and labour, matters of power are implicated. To understand how the phenomenon of Working Out Loud has emerged, what is meant by it and what the implications are for the relationship between individuals and organisations, a genealogical method of discourse analysis inspired by Michel Foucault was adopted to investigate matters of discourse/knowledge/power relative to Working Out Loud.

Analysis revealed that the discourse of Working Out Loud is constructed through unification of a discourse of social business and a discourse of personal development/self-actualisation. By conflating different meanings of the word help across the two discourses, the primary subject position created in the discourse effectively aligns individuals’ personal development/self-actualisation with the realisation of business goals. Reconceptualised in the context of business organisations (Fleming, 2014), this study contends that such a position presents Working Out Loud as an expression of what Foucault calls biopower, wherein the everyday life qualities of individuals are increasingly indexed to the needs of the organisation.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 53025
  • Item Type
  • MRes Thesis
  • Keywords
  • Working Out Loud (WOL); social communication technology; social learning; professional learning; organisational learning; Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA); biopower; biocracy; social networks; social capital; sociology; business networks; information technology
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
    Learning and Teaching Innovation (LTI)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2016 The Author
  • Depositing User
  • Helen Crump