Monday, February 13th, 7pm
Co-sponsored by the Marxist Education Project
Call centers have become synonymous with low-paid and high stress work, dictatorial supervisors and terrifyingly precarious job contracts. However, rarely do we have access to the experience of workers in this context. For Working the Phones, Jamie Woodcock spent time working undercover in a UK call center in order to provide insights into the daily experiences of call center workers, and to understand and analyze methods of control and resistance that exist within the highly regulated environment. Call center work has become emblematic of the shift towards a post-industrial service economy, and all the issues that this produces, such as the destruction of a unionized work force, isolation and alienation, loss of agency and, ominously, the proliferation of surveillance and control which affects mental and physical well-being of the workers. The talk includes three parts: first, it makes an argument for the use of workers’ inquiry as a method to study contemporary work conditions, in this case involving an undercover activist ethnography; second, it draws on heterodox and critical Marxist theory to understand the transformation of work; third, it focuses on the challenges of resistance and organization in contemporary work through a concrete example.
Jamie Woodcock completed his PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is currently a fellow at LSE. His research interests include: digital labour, technology, management, critical theory, and the sociology of work. Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres is published by Pluto Press, further information: https://t.co/O4wr47ZGF3
You can also check out this interview with Jaime by labor scholar Immanuel Ness in ROAR Magazine.