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Call Center Cultures and the Transnationalization of Affective Labor
Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture (2011)
  • John Muthyala, Professor, University of Southern Maine

This paper examines how the transnationalization of affective labor has become central to the Information Technology (IT) of our global world. It studies the role of American culture in call centers in India, a crucial sector of the IT industry linking the U.S. to technopolises in several countries across the world. The documentary Diverted to Delhi, which focuses on the setting up and managing of call centers, shows how a particular itinerary of culture gets deployed in order to train potential employees to learn English, become familiar with American culture, develop new professional identities by adopting Western names, and become conversant with the customer’s cultural discourse to create a friendly environment for customers. The biopolitical logic of these transnational cultural flows cannot be adequately examined by using traditional models of globalization such as Westernization or hybridization; rather, this essay investigates the contradictory impact of the transnationalization of affective labor, especially in its gendered dimensions, and demonstrates that call center outsourcing is deeply embedded in global economic flows whose cultural dynamics in some ways work contradictorily, despite institutionalized efforts and structures designed to meet predetermined ends.

  • Culture,
  • Digital Humanities,
  • Globalization,
  • Information Technology,
  • Biopolitics,
  • Affective Labor
Publication Date
Citation Information
John Muthyala. "Call Center Cultures and the Transnationalization of Affective Labor" Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture Vol. 1 Iss. 1 (2011)
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