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 Cate Hopkins

Cate Hopkins

Research student, School of Journalism, Media and Culture

Siarad Cymraeg


I am a PhD candidate at the Data Justice Lab, where my research is funded by a grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). My PhD project is concerned with the ways in which discourses of surveillance impact on trade union campaigns and organisation. My research interests broadly include trade unions, surveillance, datafication and data justice, resistance, and solidarity.


Research interests

My project focusses on the ways in which workplace surveillance shape and influence trade union organising. I'm interested in how trade unions are conceptualising the challenges posed by digital technology in the workplace, how they are responding to these challenges, and how they are identifying and using the opportunities if offers for campaigning and organising. 


I work as a Community Tutor at Cardiff University Centre for Continuing and Professional Education, where I convene a module on Research Methods and on Community Journalism. 

I have also worked in JOMEC as a teaching assistant on the undergraduate module Media and Democracy. 


Workplace Surveillance and the Trade Union movement

The history of the trade union movement, in the UK and internationally, has been the history of resistance to the worst excesses of industrial capitalism. In terms of working people, those excesses have historically been largely visible and collectively shared, and current regulations surrounding health and safety at work or working time directives are the result of long struggle against worker exploitation. Digital technology presents a challenge to this tradition of collective identity and worker solidarity.

Technologies in the workplace can have a dramatic impact on worker wellbeing, leading to overwork, loss of autonomy, the blurring of lines between life and work, and intensified expectations for performance. Digital technology has the capacity to track and monitor worker performance, reducing human experience to a set of numerical data that can in turn grade performance against a series of targets or expectations. That data can also be pieced together to create a profile from which a wide range of inferences and assumptions. When our digital lives become so highly contextualised to our own individual situations, our individual identities as gendered, racialised, embodied people enter into a power matrix.

In the highly individualised contexts of technology and its intertwining relationship with the social world, how are trade union activists organising to foster the solidarity and collective action that the trade union movement needs to be successful? What are the challenges that they face? What are the current concerns and how can they as a collective movement rise to meet them?

Funding source

Economic and Social Research Council



Dr Andy Williams

Senior Lecturer