Advertisement

Standardization and Agency Intertwined

  • Johanna Woydack
Chapter
Part of the Communicating in Professions and Organizations book series (PSPOD)

Abstract

Woydack reconnects ethnographic findings with large-scale issues ranging from the increasing impact of technology and standardization on workplaces, to resistance vs. compliance in conceptualizing agency, to constructive processes of learning and training. Using insights drawn from the intermediary role of middle management and moving beyond the often poor analyses of call transcripts in the literature, Woydack critically assesses the rigid opposition between resistance and compliance. Recognizing the multi-level hierarchy of corporate work, activities particular to each level, and the influences that move across these levels, she transcends analyses of call centers and their labor as standardization by offering a humane perspective on productive goal-oriented agency that is compliant yet transformative, structurally sound yet innovative in practice.

Keywords

Transpositional institutional ethnography Resistance Compliance Creative compliance Upskilling Monitoring Call centers Standardization Calling scripts Textual trajectories Ethnography of corporations Linguistic ethnography Stigma Rules within rules Agency Transcontextual analysis Multi-level hierarchy of corporate work Extexualization Contextualization Recontextualization Literacy studies University management Institutional ethnography Ethnography Text trajectories Organizational ethnography Language management Diversity management 

References

  1. Ackroyd, Stephen, and Paul Thompson. 1999. Organizational Misbehaviour. London/Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Bain, Peter, and Phil Taylor. 2000. Entrapped by the ‘Electronic Panopticon’? Worker Resistance in the Call Centre. New Technology, Work and Employment 15 (1): 2–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Belt, Vicki, Ranald Richardson, and Juliet Webster. 2000. Women’s Work in the Information Economy: The Case of Telephone Call Centres. Information, Communication & Society 3 (3): 366–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ———. 2002. Women, Social Skill and Interactive Service Work in Telephone Call Centres. New Technology, Work and Employment 17 (1): 20–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brunsson, Nils. 1995. Ideas and Actions: Justification and Hypocrisy as Alternatives to Control. Sociology of Organizations 13: 211–235.Google Scholar
  6. Brunsson, Nils, and Bengt Jacobsson. 2000. A World of Standards. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Burawoy, Michael. 1979. Manufacturing Consent: Changes in the Labor Process under Monopoly Capitalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cameron, Deborah. 2000. Good to Talk? London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Cook-Gumperz, Jenny. 2001. Cooperation, Collaboration and Pleasure in Work. Culture in Communication: Analyses of Intercultural Situations. In Culture in Communication: Analyses of Intercultural Situations, ed. Aldo Di Luzio, Susanne Günthner, and Franca Orletti, 117–139. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edgell, Steven. 2006. The Sociology of Work: Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Fernie, Sue, and David Metcalf. 1998. (Not) Hanging on the Telephone: Payment Systems in the New Sweatshops. London: London School of Economics, Centre for Economic Performance.Google Scholar
  12. Goffman, Erving. 1961. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Institutions. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  13. Harris, Roxy, and Ben Rampton. 2010. Ethnicities Without Guarantees: An Empirical Approach. In Identity in the 21st Century: New Trends in Changing Times, ed. Magaret Wetherell, 95–119. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  14. Holman, David, and Sue Fernie. 2000. Can I Help You? Call Centres and Job Satisfaction. Centrepiece Magazine 5 (1). http://cep.lse.ac.uk/centrepiece/v05i1/holman_fernie.pdf
  15. Houlihan, Maeve. 2003. Making Sense of Call Centres: Working and Managing the Front Line. Unpublished, University of Lancaster, Lancaster.Google Scholar
  16. Hudson, Alex. 2011. Are Call Centres the Factories of the 21st Century. BBC News.Google Scholar
  17. Hymes, Dell. 1964. Introduction: Toward Ethnographies of Communication1. American Anthropologist 66 (6_PART2): 1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Keesing, Roger M. 1981. Cultural Anthropology: A Contemporary Perspective. 2d ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  19. Korczynski, Marek. 2002. Human Resource Management in Service Work, Management, Work and Organisations. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lankshear, Gloria, Peter Cook, David Mason, Sally Coates, and Graham Button. 2001. Call Centre Employees’ Responses to Electronic Monitoring: Some Research Findings. Work, Employment and Society 15 (3): 595–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Leidner, Robin. 1993. Fast Food, Fast Talk: Service Work and the Routinization of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Linstead, Steve. 1985. Jokers Wild: The Importance of Humour in the Maintenance of Organizational Culture. The Sociological Review 33 (4): 741–767.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Marchington, M. 1992. Managing Labour Relations in a Competitive Environment. In Skill and Consent: Contemporary Studies in the Labour Process, ed. Andrew Sturdy, David Knights, and Hugh Willmott, 149–185. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. McPhail, Brenda. 2002. What Is ‘on the Line’ in Call Centre Studies? A Review of Key Issues on Academic Literature. University of Toronto. http://www3.fis.utoronto.ca/research/iprp/publications/mcphail-cc.pdf.
  25. Mirchandani, Kiran. 2004. Practices of Global Capital: Gaps, Cracks and Ironies in Transnational Call Centres in India. Global Networks 4 (4): 355–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Muller, Michael J. 1999. Invisible Work of Telephone Operators: An Ethnocritical Analysis. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) 8 (1–2): 31–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mumby, Dennis K. 2005. Theorizing Resistance in Organization Studies: A Dialectical Approach. Management Communication Quarterly 19 (1): 19–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. O’Reilly, Karen. 2009. Key Concepts in Ethnography, Sage Key Concepts. Los Angeles: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Power, Michael. 2010. The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification. Reprinted. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Ritzer, George. 1998. The McDonaldization Thesis: Explorations and Extensions. London/Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 2000. The McDonaldization of Society. New Century ed. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.Google Scholar
  32. Rose, Nikolas. 1999. Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Roy, Donald. 1959. ‘Banana Time’: Job Satisfaction and Informal Interaction. Human Organization 18 (4): 158–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shire, Karen, Ursula Holtgrewe, and Christian Kerst. 2002. Re-Organising Service Work: Call Centres in Germany and Britain: An Introduction. In Re-Organising Service Work: Call Centres in Germany and Britain, ed. Ursula Holtgrewe, Christian Kerst, and Karen Shire, 1–19. Aldershot/Hants/Burlington: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  35. Shore, Cris, and Susan Wright. 2015. Governing by Numbers: Audit Culture, Rankings and the New World Order: Governing by Numbers. Social Anthropology 23 (1): 22–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith, Dorothy E. 1996. The Relations of Ruling: A Feminist Inquiry. Studies in Cultures, Organizations and Societies 2 (2): 171–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stanworth, Celia. 2000. Women and Work in the Information Age. Gender, Work and Organization 7 (1): 20–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Strathern, Marilyn, ed. 2000. Audit Cultures: Anthropological Studies in Accountability, Ethics, and the Academy, European Association of Social Anthropologists. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Taylor, Steve. 1998. Emotional Labour and the New Workplace. In Workplaces of the Future, ed. Paul Thompson and Chris Warhurst, 84–103. London: Macmillan Education UK.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Taylor, Phil, and Peter Bain. 1999. An Assembly Line in the Head’: Work and Employee Relations in the Call Centre. Industrial Relations Journal 30 (2): 101–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Timmermans, Stefan, and Steven Epstein. 2010. A World of Standards but Not a Standard World: Toward a Sociology of Standards and Standardization. Annual Review of Sociology 36 (1): 69–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Viterna, Jocelyn, and Douglas Maynard. 2002. How Uniform Is Standardization? Variation Within and Across Survey Research Centre Reading Protocols for Interviewing. In Standardization and Tacit Knowledge-Interaction and Practice in the Survey Interview, ed. Douglas Maynard, Hanneke Houtkoop-Steenstra, Nora Schaeffer, and Johannes van der Zouwen, 365–401. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  43. Warde, Alan. 1992. Industrial Discipline: Factory Regime and Politics in Lancaster. In Skill and Consent: Contemporary Studies in the Labour Process, ed. Andrew Sturdy, David Knights, and Hugh Willmott, 97–114. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Watson, Tony J. 2008. Sociology, Work and Industry. 5th ed. London /New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Woydack, Johanna. 2016. Superdiversity and a London Multilingual Call Centre. In Engaging Superdiversity: Recombining Spaces, Times and Language Practices, ed. Karel Arnaut, Martha Sif Karrebaek, Massimiliano Spotti, and Jan Blommaert, vol. 7, 220–251. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. ———. 2017. Call Center Agents and the Experience of Stigma. Working Papers in Urban Language Literacies. King’s College London. https://www.academia.edu/33711030/WP215_Woydack_2017._Call_center_agents_and_the_experience_of_stigma
  47. Woydack, Johanna, and Ben Rampton. 2016. Text Trajectories in a Multilingual Call Centre: The Linguistic Ethnography of a Calling Script. Language in Society 45 (05): 709–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johanna Woydack
    • 1
  1. 1.Foreign Language Business CommunicationVienna University of Economics and BusinessViennaAustria

Personalised recommendations