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Phone ClonesAuthenticity Work in the Transnational Service Economy$
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Kiran Mirchandani

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450648

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450648.001.0001

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Language Training

Language Training

The Making of the Deficient Worker

(p.36) 2 Language Training
Phone Clones

Kiran Mirchandani

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the language training undertaken by prospective customer service agents in India before they are allowed to interact with Western customers. Language training is justified in terms of the need for Western clients to understand and be understood by workers, but it also serves to establish a starting point of difference, where all Indians, irrespective of their location, background, or education, are deemed deficient in their use of English. This chapter considers the processes through which India's customer service workers are constructed as “different” from Westerners. It explains how Indian call center agents are embodied through their voices, and are known as those who speak a strange and corrupted form of the English language. It argues that becoming a transnational customer service worker involves “sounding right”; this has been termed “aesthetic labor.”

Keywords:   language training, customer service agents, India, Western customers, English language, customer service workers, aesthetic labor, call center agents, transnational customer service

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