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What is a skilled job? Exploring worker perceptions of skill in two UK call centres

Lloyd, Caroline ORCID: and Payne, Jonathan 2008. What is a skilled job? Exploring worker perceptions of skill in two UK call centres. [Working Paper]. SKOPE Research Paper., vol. 81. Cardiff: SKOPE, Cardiff University. Available at:

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A current theme within debates over interactive service work is that many routine service jobs are ‘skilled’ because they require workers to perform ‘emotion work’ and ‘articulation work’. Drawing upon workers’ views of their skills in two ‘mass market’ call centres in the UK, the paper questions the use and validity of these new skill concepts. It is argued that these concepts overplay the amount of task variation, discretion and control that is available to such workers. Even more problematic is the tendency to equate skill with the ability to cope with badly designed jobs and stressful working conditions. The findings suggest that there is a need for a thorough and rigorous debate about what is meant by a ‘skilled job’ in an expanding service-based economy.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Published
Schools: ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance (SKOPE)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Publisher: SKOPE, Cardiff University
ISBN: 1466-1535
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 10:36

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