Once More With Feeling: Ethnographic Reflections on the Mediation of Tension in a Small Team of Call Centre Workers

Once More With Feeling: Ethnographic Reflections on the Mediation of Tension in a Small Team of... This article explores the labour process of a team of call‐centre workers based in a multi‐client call centre in the West Midlands. Founded on the basis of a 13‐month ethnographic study into workplace resistance in call‐centre environments, this article provides insights into control in call centres, focusing on sexuality, internal team dynamics and discipline. It is argued that control is exerted through management and information technology but it is crucially exerted laterally in the team and sexuality is an important medium of such control. This article focuses specifically on how worker sexuality is deployed to regulate the tension between contradictory imperatives faced by workers. The article then considers the emotional content of the call‐centre labour process, arguing that the apparent resolution of potentially contradictory logic, in fact, depends upon the development by call‐centre workers, encouraged by more senior employees, of informal, pseudo‐sexualized client relations at the point of production. Crucially however the fieldwork reveals that the demands placed upon customer service representatives are subtly gendered. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Gender, Work & Organisation Wiley

Once More With Feeling: Ethnographic Reflections on the Mediation of Tension in a Small Team of Call Centre Workers

Gender, Work & Organisation, Volume 12 (5) – Sep 1, 2005

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0968-6673
eISSN
1468-0432
D.O.I.
10.1111/j.1468-0432.2005.00282.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the labour process of a team of call‐centre workers based in a multi‐client call centre in the West Midlands. Founded on the basis of a 13‐month ethnographic study into workplace resistance in call‐centre environments, this article provides insights into control in call centres, focusing on sexuality, internal team dynamics and discipline. It is argued that control is exerted through management and information technology but it is crucially exerted laterally in the team and sexuality is an important medium of such control. This article focuses specifically on how worker sexuality is deployed to regulate the tension between contradictory imperatives faced by workers. The article then considers the emotional content of the call‐centre labour process, arguing that the apparent resolution of potentially contradictory logic, in fact, depends upon the development by call‐centre workers, encouraged by more senior employees, of informal, pseudo‐sexualized client relations at the point of production. Crucially however the fieldwork reveals that the demands placed upon customer service representatives are subtly gendered.

Journal

Gender, Work & OrganisationWiley

Published: Sep 1, 2005

References

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