Disciplined agency

Neoliberal precarity, generational dispossession and call centre labour in Portugal

Call centres are a part of the daily lives of most people across the world, as they have become a privileged site of contact between firms and their clients. Drawing on the unusual advantage of long-term ethnographic fieldwork, this book describes the emergence of a regime of ‘disciplined agency’ within the Portuguese call centre sector. The notion of ‘disciplined agency’ is the guiding thread connecting the book’s account. Departing from a historical examination of the neoliberal economic restructuring of Portuguese capitalism shaping the emergence of the call centre sector, the analysis progresses through the ascendancy of call centres as icons of precarity in contemporary Portugal, and the specific features of the call centre labour process that configure a new means of commodifying the worker. This book engages in a discussion of the particular subjectivities and forms of personal dispossession attached to the value-extraction system of ‘disciplined agency’ deployed in call centre labour, and how it is facilitated by relationally and morally embedded structures of kin, generation and class.

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