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Identity on the line: constructing professional identity in a HR call centre

Pritchard, Katrina and Symon, Gillian (2011). Identity on the line: constructing professional identity in a HR call centre. Work, Employment and Society, 25(3) pp. 434–450.

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This article applies insights from the social construction of professional identity to an understanding of the ‘professional service’ call centre representative (CSR). In this case, HR (Human Resources) practitioners found themselves in a CSR role in a newly constituted HR call centre and this research explores how they then (re-)constructed their role as professionals within this context. Through a longitudinal, ethnographic study, three key constructions are identified through which CSRs made claims for a professional identity: ‘our work is complex’; ‘our work adds value’; and ‘our work is unique’. The analysis highlights that a contemporary concern with re-orienting HR to a strategic role may lead to perceived segregation and the re-negotiation of professional identities vis-à-vis other groups of HR professionals. Overall, this research challenges accepted norms and definitions of both call centre work and professional identity, suggesting that both are contested and localised constructions achieved through identity work.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2011 The Authors
ISSN: 1469-8722
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
PhDPTA-0302004-00095ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Keywords: call centre; HR; professional identity; human resources
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 40809
Depositing User: Katrina Pritchard
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2014 10:03
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 18:45
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