Original Research

‘We are all just prisoners here of our own device’: The moral challenge of balancing technology, work and capitalistic pursuits

Geoff Goldman
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 17, No 1 | a899 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v17i1.899 | © 2021 Geoff Goldman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 June 2020 | Published: 21 January 2021

About the author(s)

Geoff Goldman, Department of Business Management, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Department of International Management, Faculty of Economics and International Relations, Krakow University of Economics, Krakow, Poland


Although technological proliferation is a reality in a 4IR world, and has immense potential to increase the efficiency and quality of work, it is accompanied by workplace practices that there is no benchmark for. These practices have the potential to unsettle traditional work routines, traditional work/non-work boundaries, and to disturb peoples’ work life balance irreparably. Against this backdrop, this paper explores the parameters of morally acceptable organisational practices in terms of usage and expectations of ICT’s. Through adopting a Critical scholarly stance, this paper dialectically investigates the nature of work and the importance people associate with it, the ways in which technology impacts work and peoples’ lives, and uncovers how technology enables control over labour in a capitalist society. The effect the current technological explosion has been far reaching and is effecting every sphere of life. As we try to make sense of 4IR, we are also redefining our different contexts and the role technology and ICT play in each of these. We are noticing a definite blurring of spaces that, not too long ago, had distinct parameters.


4th Industrial Revolution; autonomy; capitalism; control; ‘goods of work’; morality; technology; technology paradox.


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