Situating Outsourceable Labor: Location Work and the Era of Transnational Service Expansion in the Global Economy

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 24 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Alinaya Sybilla FABROS, University of California Berkeley, USA, University of the Philippines, Philippines
What happens to the work process when outsourced service jobs move to remote locations overseas? Building on conversations in the sociology of work, this paper directs attention to changes in the labor process observed in transnational service platforms. By working as a customer service agent for an American company that has outsourced to the Philippines, I examine the labor process within a third party, offshore call center. Revisiting the literature on economic restructuring toward services and global restructuring in fragmented service platforms, I account for observed yet understudied features of transnational service work by extending the discussion beyond the framework of emotional labor (Hochschild, 1983). Although service labor theorizing offers handles for understanding work in post-industrial economies, existing literature on service work does not yet fully account for work transformation taking place in globally-fragmented service platforms.  Following changes in sociological analysis of the labor process, I argue that work in the transnational call center involves location work geared toward the production of proximity in remote, real-time services, where third-party vendors, clients, customers and workers are dispersed in various parts of the world.