Managing Boundaries: The Role of Narratives at a 9-1-1 Call Center
MetadataShow full item record
Dispatchers and calltakers who work at 9-1-1 call centers are confronted with memories of emergencies they must address at work even though they are not physically present at the event. The language they use to talk about their work thus always references a potentially traumatic experience processed second-hand. These telecommunicators use personal messaging through the dispatch platform, verbal communication, and texting in cellphones to tell stories about their work and manage emergency response. Often two to three mediums are used in order to communicate different aspects of the same narrative. Through storytelling, dispatchers manage an environment influenced by social hierarchies, workplace command structures, gender dynamics, and the emotional stress of the calls they must process. The fragmented experiences of dispatchers are reflected in the disjointed methods and narrative structures of their storytelling. This study offers an approach to multi-modal communication and presents an analysis of an occupational folk group not previously studied by folklorists.