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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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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

The production of agency: humans disguised as robots

The production of agency: humans disguised as robots

(p.96) 6 The production of agency: humans disguised as robots
Disciplined Agency

Patrícia Alves de Matos

Manchester University Press

Chapter 6 examines how discipline, quantification and surveillance are enacted within the labour process in order to clarify the main distinguishable characteristic of value-creation within call centres. The computer-based mechanisms used by the sector to measure labour output, and the informal and formal strategies of labour surveillance, contain one central paradox that is indispensable for profit maintenance: workers must meet quantitative and qualitative productivity targets. By following these, management achieves two goals: making workers accountable for their performance while inciting their agential intervention in the labour process through linguistic engagement. Call centres present the most advanced system for exploitating a rarefied form of labour: linguistic engagement, or human communicative competence. The call centre labour process emerges as a regime of disciplined agency in which maintaining the tension between quantitative and qualitative targets incorporate into the valorisation process operators’ morally and socially embedded agentive linguistic capacities of decision-making, problem-solving and ethical evaluation.

Keywords:   discipline, quantification, surveillance, value-creation, embedded agency

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