London calling - a linguistic ethnography of a multilingual call centre

This talk presents an institutional transpositional ethnography that examines the textual trajectory of “the life of a calling script” from production by corporate management and clients to recontextualization by middle management and finally to application by agents in phone interactions. Drawing on extensive fieldwork that lasted over four years, it provides a behind-the-scenes view of a London multilingual call center and a nuanced account of this archetypal modern yet controversial workplace with its intense monitoring, (language) standardization and use of low-skilled and deskilling precariat labor practices. In doing so, this study offers fresh perspectives on contemporary debates ranging from resistance, agency, compliance, standardization to invisible work and skills. It concludes by highlighting how transpositional ethnography can illuminate aspects and practices within workplaces that are otherwise easily overlooked and remain invisible.

Language and Anthropology Seminars Trinity Term 2019

Wednesdays, Weeks 1, 3 and 5, 11am, New Seminar Room, 51-53 Banbury Road

Convened by Elisabeth Hsu and David Zeitlyn