The work of call centre operators is notoriously

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Unformatted text preview: at busy times operators handle calls continuously, with no more than seconds in between. The work of call centre operators is notoriously stressful, being both extremely repetitive and subject to demanding performance targets, and this is re¯ected in high rates of employee turnover in the industry (Carter 1998; Reardon 1996). Media coverage of call centres has been both copious and generally critical, often suggesting that they are the sweatshops of the 21st century (Wazir 1999). Second, language has a special signi®cance in call centre work. The operator's job consists of little else but language-using ± talking to customers on the phone and inputting/retrieving data using a computer ± and her/his professional persona must be created entirely through speech. Typically, the speech of call centre operators is subject to intensive regulation and constant surveillance. Supervisors can covertly listen in on any call (known in the industry as `silent listening'), while in some centres every call is recorded and may become the subject of `counselling' (a worker and a supervisor or man...
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