The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

Edwards revisited: technical control and call centres

Callaghan, George and Thompson, Paul (2001). Edwards revisited: technical control and call centres. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 22(1) pp. 13–37.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0143831X01221002
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

Call centres represent a new strategy by capital to reduce unit labour costs. While this strategy has been applied to many different types of work, it is particularly successful in cutting costs in routine interactive service encounters. Telebank, the case study research site, is one of four integrated call centres throughout the UK. Data collection includes taped semi-structured interviews with customer service representatives and managers as well as non-participant observation of recruitment, training and the labour process. This article argues that management has developed a new form of structural control. Theoretically this draws heavily on Edwards's concept of technical control, but not only is this shown to be extended and modified, it is also combined with bureaucratic control, which influences the social structure of the workplace. Contrary to Edwards such systems are not distinct; rather they are blended together in the process of institutionalizing control. Part of the rationale for this is to camouflage control, to contain conflict by making control a product of the system rather than involving direct confrontation between management and workers. Despite such attempts the struggle for transforming labour power into profitable labour remains, and the article ends by exploring confrontation between workers and managers and worker agency more generally.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 0143-831X
Keywords: emotional labour; panoptic discipline; resistance; structural control; technical control
Academic Unit/Department: Social Sciences > Economics
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 3261
Depositing User: Users 13 not found.
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 10:59
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/3261
Share this page:

Actions (login may be required)

View Item
Report issue / request change

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340   general-enquiries@open.ac.uk