Customer service work and the aesthetics of resistance

Alison Barnes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - This chapter seeks to contribute to our understanding of how the delivery of customer service shapes the development and expression by workers of resistance, misbehavior, and accommodation. Workers at three call centers enjoyed customer service and endeavored to enhance its importance. At the same time, however, they knew it to be emotionally wearing and, on occasion, morally dubious. Methodology - The chapter draws on interviews with and a survey of call center employees and management and trade unions. Findings - The chapter explores how workers used the aesthetic skills that underpin "good" customer service to subvert management objectives and give vent to their frustration with disgruntled customers. Social implications - Even in the most closely controlled and monitored situations, people are capable of developing unanticipated and often ingenious responses to regimens that are antithetical to their immediate interests. Originality - The exploration of how call center workers use their customer service and aesthetic skills to undermine managerial control.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking Misbehavior and Resistance in Organizations
EditorsAlison Barnes, Lucy Taksa
Place of PublicationBingley, UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781780526638
ISBN (Print)9781780526621
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameAdvances in Industrial and Labor Relations
ISSN (Print)0742-6186


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