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Localizing the Global - A Minor Field Study about Globalization and Identity among Call-Center Employees in Northern India

Nikolov, Pierre LU (2009) SOCK01 20092
Sociology
Abstract
In our time it is widely argued that we are undergoing global transformations that influence the way we think about ourselves and how we interact and form ties with others. The intensified global integration of service sectors during the last five to ten years underscores such transformations. In recent research and among popular commentators the rise of transnational call-centers in India that provide foremost phone-based support services to customers in Western countries has been upheld as either global integration and development, or as Third world exploitation and/or commoditization of identity. With fascination call-center employees have also been upheld as marks of cosmopolitanism due to their transnational work field, whilst... (More)
In our time it is widely argued that we are undergoing global transformations that influence the way we think about ourselves and how we interact and form ties with others. The intensified global integration of service sectors during the last five to ten years underscores such transformations. In recent research and among popular commentators the rise of transnational call-centers in India that provide foremost phone-based support services to customers in Western countries has been upheld as either global integration and development, or as Third world exploitation and/or commoditization of identity. With fascination call-center employees have also been upheld as marks of cosmopolitanism due to their transnational work field, whilst negative critics have pointed to this phenomenon as imposed Westernization and cultural homogenization. The aim of this study is to move beyond such dichotomous accounts, and to capture and demystify the experiences and perceptions of call-center employees and the meanings they ascribe to their work roles, identities and globalization in their everyday lives in India. A minor field study was conducted in the National Capital Region of Delhi, which included field observations and interviews with call-center employees that were working or had worked in the call-center hub towns Gurgaon and Noida. This study addresses previous research in this field, and demonstrates new findings that contradict previous research findings. While previous studies have demonstrated that call-center employees in India were conditioned to adapt to foremost US work shift regimes and cultural norms this study indicates that such homogenization processes are regressing and enabling more heterogenic interactions. The call-center employees in this study experienced increased global connectivity and a new proximity to localities across the globe, but they did not experience cosmopolitan identification as they reasoned in terms of “their-and-our” culture and negotiated between modern and traditional social positions. This study also concludes that in order to understand the social influences of globalization we need to conduct research on the local level if our aim is to understand how people construct meaning and navigate between traditional social positions and the variable modern influences of globalization. (Less)
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author
Nikolov, Pierre LU
supervisor
organization
course
SOCK01 20092
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
Call-Center, Globalization, Culture, Habitus, Identity, Cosmopolitan, Modernity, Development, Business Process Outsourcing, Off-shoring, India, National Capital Region of Delhi, New Delhi, Minor Field Study, Gurgaon, Noida, Sociology
language
English
id
1508346
date added to LUP
2009-11-23 14:07:53
date last changed
2011-05-12 15:48:37
@misc{1508346,
  abstract     = {In our time it is widely argued that we are undergoing global transformations that influence the way we think about ourselves and how we interact and form ties with others. The intensified global integration of service sectors during the last five to ten years underscores such transformations. In recent research and among popular commentators the rise of transnational call-centers in India that provide foremost phone-based support services to customers in Western countries has been upheld as either global integration and development, or as Third world exploitation and/or commoditization of identity. With fascination call-center employees have also been upheld as marks of cosmopolitanism due to their transnational work field, whilst negative critics have pointed to this phenomenon as imposed Westernization and cultural homogenization. The aim of this study is to move beyond such dichotomous accounts, and to capture and demystify the experiences and perceptions of call-center employees and the meanings they ascribe to their work roles, identities and globalization in their everyday lives in India. A minor field study was conducted in the National Capital Region of Delhi, which included field observations and interviews with call-center employees that were working or had worked in the call-center hub towns Gurgaon and Noida. This study addresses previous research in this field, and demonstrates new findings that contradict previous research findings. While previous studies have demonstrated that call-center employees in India were conditioned to adapt to foremost US work shift regimes and cultural norms this study indicates that such homogenization processes are regressing and enabling more heterogenic interactions. The call-center employees in this study experienced increased global connectivity and a new proximity to localities across the globe, but they did not experience cosmopolitan identification as they reasoned in terms of “their-and-our” culture and negotiated between modern and traditional social positions. This study also concludes that in order to understand the social influences of globalization we need to conduct research on the local level if our aim is to understand how people construct meaning and navigate between traditional social positions and the variable modern influences of globalization.},
  author       = {Nikolov, Pierre},
  keyword      = {Call-Center,Globalization,Culture,Habitus,Identity,Cosmopolitan,Modernity,Development,Business Process Outsourcing,Off-shoring,India,National Capital Region of Delhi,New Delhi,Minor Field Study,Gurgaon,Noida,Sociology},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Localizing the Global - A Minor Field Study about Globalization and Identity among Call-Center Employees in Northern India},
  year         = {2009},
}