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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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Being Nowhere in the World

Being Nowhere in the World

Synchronous Work and Gendered Time

(p.119) 6 Being Nowhere in the World
Phone Clones

Kiran Mirchandani

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how cultural cloning is facilitated through time, with particular emphasis on the ways in which customer service agents are required to occupy the same temporal space as their customers. In call centers, time is controlled via notions of professionalism that are closely associated with the clock. Due to their long shifts and night work, customer service agents often perform their duties in a state of physical exhaustion. Given the synchronous nature of transnational customer service work, agents' jobs follow Western clocks, and many of them cite their night-time shifts as the most challenging feature of their jobs. This chapter discusses the social and organizational responses to the challenges involved in working at night. It shows how time norms like punctuality and time management are presented to agents as universally superior naturalized dimensions of Western work cultures. It also considers the gendered nature of time in relation to night work.

Keywords:   call centers, professionalism, clock, night work, customer service agents, transnational customer service, night-time shifts, punctuality, time management

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