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Invisible bodies and disembodied voices? Identity work, the body and embodiment in transnational service work

Rajan-Rankin, Sweta (2017) Invisible bodies and disembodied voices? Identity work, the body and embodiment in transnational service work. Gender Work and Organization, 25 (1). pp. 9-23. ISSN 0968-6673. E-ISSN 1468-0432. (doi:10.1111/gwao.12198)

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This article explores the linkages between identity work, the body and embodiment in transnational call centres. Identity work, defined as the masking of national identity to imply proximity to the western client, provides an opportunity for the analyst to examine workplace embodiment in a global context. Qualitative data from an ethnographic study of two global outsourcing firms in India (2010-2012) explicated these processes. Narrative accounts suggest that call centre workers are routinely made aware of the body as a target of discipline, for instance in training; by working on their own bodies (including posture, dress, voice modulation and other forms of body regulation); by working on the bodies of others (through voice-based interactions) and by using embodied images of Americans to contextualize the service provided. In this way, the western client is visualized by the Indian call worker through corporeal imaginaries that concomitantly construct, subvert and resist the West-Rest dichotomy in service relations. Far from being disembodied, this study demonstrates that the body is central to global service work.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/gwao.12198
Projects: [UNSPECIFIED] A New Form of Emotional Labour? Cultural Immersion Training in Globally Outsourced Indian Call Centres
Uncontrolled keywords: body; call centres; embodiment; global capitalism; identity work
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Sweta Rajan-Rankin
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2017 09:25 UTC
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2020 12:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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