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“You’re not going anywhere” Employee Retention, Symbolic Violence and the Structuring of Subordination in a UK-based Call Centre

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matthew Brannan



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Sage Publications Ltd., 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article explores practices that produce and reproduce domination in and through organizational hierarchies and shows how high levels of employee turnover were managed within a UK-based call centre through the use of culturally bound employment practices. Using ethnographic methods the paper explores the experience of managerial retention strategies from the perspective of employees and draws upon some of the theoretical resources employed by Pierre Bourdieu, specifically in relation to his concern with structures of subordination, and with the ways that processes of symbolic violence appear legitimate. The paper therefore makes three contributions to our understanding of the sociology of work generally and the management of labour turnover in service industries specifically; first, it extends understanding of the cultural basis of retention strategies. Second, it explores the ‘lived experience’ of these strategies. Finally, it considers the relevance of Bourdieu's analysis for making sense of these practices in action.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brannan MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociological Review

Year: 2015

Volume: 63

Issue: 4

Pages: 801-819

Print publication date: 01/11/2015

Online publication date: 01/11/2015

Acceptance date: 15/10/2015

Date deposited: 02/10/2019

ISSN (print): 0038-0261

ISSN (electronic): 1467-954X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12312


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