The Dark Side of Individualization at Work: Idiosyncratic Deal Exploitation and the Creation of Elite Workers

Farooq Mughal, Siqi Wang, Aneesa Zafar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


The purpose of this chapter is to critically analyse the taken-for-granted assumptions underpinning the notion of idiosyncratic deals (or i-deals). This chapter argues that i-deals promote individualized arrangements at work which are likely to create precarity, inequality, competition and alienation among workers. We look more closely at the operationality of i-deals, their underlying mechanisms and role in subjecting individuals to labour processes that (re)produce individuality, power-relations and dominance. In so doing, we employ the works of the French philosopher, Michel Foucault, to explore the implications of promoting individuality at work. By positioning individualized work arrangements as modes of neoliberal governmentality and a consequence of individualization of society, our chapter should be read as a critique of i-deals which produce discourses that portray the individual as agile and less recalcitrant. In what follows, we discuss how neoliberalism serves to individualize work and exert control over the labour processes by means of individuation and individualization. This is followed by our quest to reinstate and situate subjectivity in the backdrop of literature on work and organizational psychology. Once subjectivity is reinstated, we discuss the possibility of idiosyncratic exploitation of individuals and the creation of elite workers through processes of othering.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdiosyncratic Deals at Work: Exploring Individual, Organizational, and Societal Perspectives
EditorsSmriti Anand, Yasin Rofcanin
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783030885151
ISBN (Print)9783030885151, 9783030885182
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2022


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