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Disciplined AgencyNeoliberal Precarity, Generational Dispossession and Call Centre Labour in Portugal$
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Patrícia Alves de Matos

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526134981

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526134998

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Capitalist and generational transitions in contemporary Portugal

Capitalist and generational transitions in contemporary Portugal

(p.19) 2 Capitalist and generational transitions in contemporary Portugal
Disciplined Agency

Patrícia Alves de Matos

Manchester University Press

Chapter 2 underlines the historical continuities and transitions of the Portuguese setting that have shaped the emergence of the sector, taking into account broader shifts and tendencies in global capitalism. The trajectories of the generation preceding that of today’s call centre workers are located in this historical landscape by exploring how the social aspirations of upward class mobility that they projected onto their children were embedded in national projects of freedom, modernity and economic progress. The chapter’s aim is twofold. First, it shows how the affinity between precarious labour and call centre employment in Portugal is as much an outgrowth of recent Portuguese economic history as it is the result of global processes of neoliberalisation. Second, it emphasises how the increasing precariousness of employment and deterioration of working conditions attached to the neoliberal turn in the 1980s have made it increasingly difficult for contemporary call centre workers to achieve the social expectations of middle-class distinction, based on educational achievement and stable employment, that were placed on them by the State, the nation and their parents’ generation. This chapter unravels how particular, historically bounded, intra-generational life goals of class mobility become embedded in broader transitions in economic and labour regimes.

Keywords:   Portuguese capitalism, neoliberalism, precarity, social mobility, class, generation

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