Current trends and the way forward on call center research in a post-covid world

An introduction


  • Johanna Tovar WU Vienna (Vienna University of Economics and Business)



Covid-19 pandemic, working from home, chat messaging, call centers, intercultural communication, resistance, ethnography, corpus analysis, offshore call center politeness


Applying sociolinguistic perspectives, this issue explores the most recent developments in call center research and the impact call center work has on agents. Significant issues are addressed in call center interactions, including web chat, agent stigmatization, agent resistance, agent training and the impact of Covid-19. The essays provide a forum where developments are critically reviewed and future areas of research explored, including how call center work can be improved. The first article by Nielsen addresses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in India and working from home through the notions of chronotopes. The second article in the issue by Lockwood develops a framework for the assessment of written web chats in offshore call centers. The third essay by Friginal examines how the voice assessment of Filipino agents can be improved through caller clarification sequences. Tovar’s paper, the fourth paper in this collection, focuses on the strain that working in a call center creates for agents and how they resolve this. The fifth paper by Orthaber examines resistance and passive compliance in call center interactions in a Slovenian call center using turn-by-turn micro-analysis of service conversations with a focus on silences. Despite the different angles, the papers share themes of resistance (creative compliance) and the development of a new register of call center speak, while also highlighting agency among call center workers.

Author Biography

Johanna Tovar, WU Vienna (Vienna University of Economics and Business)

Johanna Tovar is Assistant Professor at WU Vienna (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Austria. She has done ethnographic fieldwork in a variety of workplaces, including call centers in Europe and Asia, pertaining to issues such as migration, standardization, text trajectories, invisible work, resistance and compliance. She is the author of Linguistic ethnography of a multilingual call center (2019), and co-edited The research companion to language and country branding (2020).


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How to Cite

Tovar, J. (2022). Current trends and the way forward on call center research in a post-covid world: An introduction. Sociolinguistic Studies, 16(1), 7–17.