S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Dept. of Anthropology (인류학과) Korean Anthropology Review Korean Anthropology Review Vol.2 (2018)
Creating Polluted Spaces and Bodies: Labor Control in a Call Center and the Stigma of Female Smoking
- Kim, Kwanwook
- Issue Date
- Korean Anthropology Review, Vol.2, pp. 73-107
- This article was originally published in 2015 in 『한국문화인류학』 [Korean cultural anthropology] 48(2): 45‒87; Translated into English by Ben Jackson.
- (In lieu of an abstract) Emotional labor has recently been the subject of much discussion in connection with various social issues; call centers occasionally take center stage in such debates (Yun et al. 2000; Jeong 2005; National Human Rights Commission of Korea 2008; Shin 2009). But this study aims to go beyond the discourse of emotional labor to trace methods of labor control and pathways to the social stigmatization that female call center workers experience as part of this control. To this end, I have concentrated on smoking by female call center workers. Smoking has already been established by several other studies as one of the defining features of call centers. Indeed, call centers are seen by workers themselves as “smokers’ paradises” (Kim 2013). The reason I have chosen to analyze call centers by way of smoking is not because of the high proportion of female smokers among their workers. What I focus on is the fact that the situation in call centers goes directly against the conventional taboo attached to female smoking in Korean society. Moreover, the existence of smokers’ paradises also runs counter to the current trend of gradually isolating smokers by increasing the number of no smoking areas (Thompson et al. 2007). This study is, therefore, an attempt to find out why “only” the working spaces of female call center agents undo the social taboo about female smoking.