As a product of its time, the call centre utilises new developments in telecommunications and information technology to offer cost-efficient delivery systems for customer care. Efficiency, productivity and flexibility are all embodiments of neoliberal market capitalism and are all personified in the call centre operation, as well as the structure of the labour market in general. Thus the individual and the workplace are embedded in a variety of global processes. In order to frame the context in which call centre operations exist today and their employees (mainly young men and women) negotiate the increasingly risky and individualised task of developing an identity or sense of belonging in the world, Labour Markets and Identity on the Post-Industrial Assembly Line sets out the economic, social and political changes over the last three decades that have restructured the labour market, altered the balance between labour, management and the state, and unleashed global market capitalism upon previously sheltered areas of the economy and social life in both Britain and elsewhere. This ground-breaking book offers one of the first real qualitative sociological investigations of a relatively new form of employment, to see what life is like on the 'post-industrial assembly line', whilst also taking a close look at the nature of class, identity and subjectivity in relation to young people coming of age in a world dramatically altered over the last three decades.
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Anthony Lloyd is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Teeside University, UK.
’In this outstanding, theoretically rich workplace ethnography Anthony Lloyd provides important empirical data that supports the growing realisation that - despite its soft focus, anti-authoritarian demeanour - neoliberal capitalism now penetrates to the very core of the postmodern subject. Everyone interested in the painful reality of postmodern labour markets must read this book.’ Simon Winlow, Teesside University, UK 'Anthony Lloyd’s new book, Labour Markets and Identity on the Post-industrial Assembly Line, tackles the call center from the perspective of an ethnographer, probing identity construction from an unabashedly Marxist theoretical position. Clear, engaging, and intellectually provocative, Labour Markets offers much for the labor educator. A multifaceted work, it lends itself to use in a range of contexts. ... The analysis is thorough and the conclusions depressing. Lloyd gives us hope by suggesting that understanding the processes at work-especially the habitus experienced by low-wage workers in the neoliberal economy-is a vital prerequisite to building class solidarity. This is a compelling argument, reinforced by a thoroughly informative read.' Labor Studies Journal 'Lloyd's study offers a vivid portrait of deindustrialization from within. ... The book is written in a refreshingly colloquial style. ... Lloyd's presentation of his experience and his portraits of his colleagues at the call centre give us fresh insights into the rhythms and culture of this new workplace, as well as an unnerving sense of being there with him, of living through it with him.' Labour/Le Travail