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Boundary Work

Boundary Work This article explores the joint production and consumption of health information andadvice in the context of NHS Direct, the new telephone health information and adviceservice. NHS Direct is an atypical call centre environment in so far as its corestaff (nurses) are highly skilled professionals. These nurses are required tocollaborate closely with, and are to some extent dependent upon, non-professionallower skilled staff (call handlers) to define and prioritize their work. Thisintroduces a number of tensions between the two groups. Nurses respond to thesetensions by engaging in ‘boundary work’, the micropoliticalstrategies through which work identities and occupational margins are negotiated, toprotect their own status. Call handlers are more subject to the pressures of work‘speed-up’, highly aware of the risks inherent in their role,but are unable to call upon professional status, either in their resistance tomanagerial imperatives or in their interactions with health consumers. They arerequired to manage the tension between offering a safe and high quality service,characterized in their training as ‘professional’, andnurses’ boundary work, which positions them as‘non-professional’. Here we draw on qualitative research,including call interaction data between call handler and consumer, to show how callhandlers’ occupation of the contested territory between professional andnon-professional status leaves them wide open to the agency of consumers, asconsumers attempt to shape the service in their own interests. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Consumer Culture SAGE

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References (53)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
1469-5405
eISSN
1741-2900
DOI
10.1177/1469540505056793
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the joint production and consumption of health information andadvice in the context of NHS Direct, the new telephone health information and adviceservice. NHS Direct is an atypical call centre environment in so far as its corestaff (nurses) are highly skilled professionals. These nurses are required tocollaborate closely with, and are to some extent dependent upon, non-professionallower skilled staff (call handlers) to define and prioritize their work. Thisintroduces a number of tensions between the two groups. Nurses respond to thesetensions by engaging in ‘boundary work’, the micropoliticalstrategies through which work identities and occupational margins are negotiated, toprotect their own status. Call handlers are more subject to the pressures of work‘speed-up’, highly aware of the risks inherent in their role,but are unable to call upon professional status, either in their resistance tomanagerial imperatives or in their interactions with health consumers. They arerequired to manage the tension between offering a safe and high quality service,characterized in their training as ‘professional’, andnurses’ boundary work, which positions them as‘non-professional’. Here we draw on qualitative research,including call interaction data between call handler and consumer, to show how callhandlers’ occupation of the contested territory between professional andnon-professional status leaves them wide open to the agency of consumers, asconsumers attempt to shape the service in their own interests.

Journal

Journal of Consumer CultureSAGE

Published: Nov 1, 2005

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