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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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Surveillance Schooling for Professional Clones

Surveillance Schooling for Professional Clones

(p.72) 4 Surveillance Schooling for Professional Clones
Phone Clones

Kiran Mirchandani

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the economy of familiarity that runs through constructions of customer service workers in India. Like the economy of difference, the economy of familiarity occurs when familiarity is put to work by “involving circuits of production, exchange and consumption.” In the case of the Indian customer service industry, familiarity works to create an “imagined kinhood” between workers in India and those in the West. Such a kinhood is enacted through the notion of professionalism, which is actualized in work processes in India through processes of control. This chapter explores the labor processes through which Western work norms are enacted in Indian call centers. It shows that becoming an ideal transnational customer service worker involves a constant process of enacting, revisioning, and resisting distinctions between the West and India, modern and backward, progressive and traditional. Finally, it argues that Indians are positioned as a model workforce for transnational service work through a well-orchestrated public relations machinery.

Keywords:   economy of familiarity, customer service workers, India, economy of difference, customer service industry, West, professionalism, call centers, transnational customer service, public relations

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