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Life in a Northern Town: Call Centres, Labour Markets and Identity in Post-Industrial Middlesbrough

LLOYD, ANTHONY (2010) Life in a Northern Town: Call Centres, Labour Markets and Identity in Post-Industrial Middlesbrough. PhD thesis, University of York.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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Since the late 1970s, many towns and cities across the UK have faced processes of deindustrialisation thoroughly transforming the social and cultural landscape for the local population. Middlesbrough, in the North East of England, underwent transformation from labour markets dominated by iron, steel and chemical industries to a reliance on new forms of insecure, flexible service sector employment, typified in this study by call centres. Call centres emerged in the 1990s as a cost-saving efficient delivery system for companies to handle customer contact through the marriage of telecommunications and new information technologies. As a new form of employment, call centres have become popular among academics and journalists. This study aims to explore how the changing nature of capital accumulation, prompted by an ideological shift towards neoliberalism, served to change the fabric of society by placing value on competition, consumer culture and individualisation whilst shifting Britain from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. In specific locales such as Middlesbrough this radically altered the social landscape. Call centres emerged as a lifeline for those seeking employment in a town with historically high levels of unemployment. This study, based on covert ethnographic work as a call centre worker and in-depth interviews with call centre employees, will show what call centre work is like; how management strategies work towards efficiency, productivity and targets, how employees feel working in often stressful and difficult circumstances, and how technology dictates the work process thus preventing employees from controlling the pace of work. Furthermore, this study will investigate how social change central to the emergence of the call centre also created a culture which traps young people into a cycle of earning and consumption limits their options for future betterment and alters the very nature of their identity and perceptions of social class.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Sociology (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.535057
Depositing User: MR ANTHONY LLOYD
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2011 13:57
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 12:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1432

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