The missed period

Disjunctive temporalities and the work of capital in an Indian BPO

by PURNIMA MANKEKAR and AKHIL GUPTA

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Business process outsourcing (BPO) industries providing customer service are characterized by three features: the product of labor is affect; affect is central to the labor process; and affect constitutes a crucial modality for the workers’ subject formation. This affective labor is distinctive in that workers’ connections to their customers are live, transnational, and interactive. Such BPOs constitute a form of capitalist production in which profits are based on the management and monetization of affect, including brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Affective labor generates disjunctive temporalities that are coimplicated with those of family life and with routines of schooling, ritual, and religion. These disjunctive temporalities engender modes of embodiment that are crucial to how BPO workers are constituted as specific kinds of laboring subjects.