Language, Informational Capitalism and Industrial Relations. a Study on Linguistic Autonomy of Workers and Collective Bargaining

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: Booth 62
Oral Presentation
Amado ALARCON , Business Administration Department, Universidad Rovira i Virgili, Reus, Spain
Maria MARTÍNEZ-IGLESIAS , Business Administration and Management, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain

This paper shows how linguistic criteria have become central when defining job categories in the Call Centres sector in coordinated economies. It is well known that language adopts a central role in the production processes of informational capitalism, even though how linguistic production affects collective bargaining, its arguments and outcomes is unknown. This paper argues that, even when linguistic criteria are already a key part of the collective agreements, social partners still try to introduce different types of argumentation. Trade Unions push to reproduce Fordist arguments along with linguistic criteria (the greater the argumentative independence from the script, the higher the level of the occupational category) to build high skill categories on the sector, while employer’s aim is to use economic decision autonomy to define job categories.

Several methods were used to carry out the investigation: in deep interviews and documentary analysis.  Workers holding different job categories from the largest companies in the sector were interviewed (31).  Social partners who have participated in Call Centre Collective bargaining were also interviewed (7). Several documents were analysed: the five Call Centre collective agreements, Company Agreements, five judicial rulings concerning the relationship between linguistic autonomy and occupational categories, conversation scripts, protocols and training documents. This research is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (FFI2012-33316).