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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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“Don’t Take Calls, Make Contact!”

“Don’t Take Calls, Make Contact!”

Legitimizing Racist Abuse

(p.101) 5 “Don’t Take Calls, Make Contact!”
Phone Clones

Kiran Mirchandani

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the emotion work of deference and caring among Indian customer service agents. Deference and caring are central to call center work; emotion work involves the enactment of femininity for both male and female employees. Workers serve and care for Western customers by reproducing hierarchies present in many traditionally feminized service occupations such as nursing and domestic work. This chapter explores gender and racism in relation to the feminization of emotion work and how emotion work enables call center agents to learn to not take the rude behavior of customers personally, thus maintaining self-worth in the face of abusive customers. It shows how aggressive and abusive behavior is normalized in the context of encounters between Westerners and Indians, which provide a forum for a continual process of racialization.

Keywords:   emotion work, India, customer service agents, femininity, Western customers, gender, racism, feminization, call center agents, racialization

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