This introductory chapter first sets out the purpose of the book, which is to explore the activities that human beings, in their roles of service providers and customers, engage in to supply and demand a service over the phone. It looks at the way in which language, understood as a cultural tool, mediates action and how this, in turn, reflects socio-cultural practices. It discusses service encounters over the phone, call centres and intercultural communication, and the ordinary-institutional continuum. The chapter then considers previous research on openings and closings in institutional calls.
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