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On Board the Global Workplace: Coordination and Uncertainty on Merchant Ships
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this thesis is to analyze how work and social life are coordinated on board merchant ships. The merchant ship is a global workplace where people from different nationalities come together to work and live for an extended period of time.

The study is based on ethnographic field work on board merchant ships. The core of the study is field work on two Swedish-flagged RoRo-ships with ethnically mixed crews coming from Sweden, the Philippines and Eastern Europe. Participant observation and interviews are the two methods that have been used to generate the material.

The empirical material shows that although the ships have a formal organization, the ships with mixed ethnic crews are in a disorderly state, a state of dissonance. The dissonance is due to a conflict between two evaluative principles. One principle refers to the Swedes’ way of doing things, which involves a flattened hierarchy and autonomous workers. The other principle refers to the Filipinos’ way of doing things, a formalized relationship between officers and crew and respect for the chain of command. These two principles sometimes come into conflict in the coordination of work tasks. The analysis also shows that social life on board is coordinated by ethnic networks, i.e. the seafarers spend their free time segregated by ethnicity. Furthermore, the results show that these two evaluative principles are in a hierarchical relationship. They form a hierarchy of worth where the Swedes’ way of doing things is seen as superior.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University , 2014. , 218 p.
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 57
Keyword [en]
Coordination, merchant ships, global workplace, mixed crews, formal organization, state of dissonance, evaluative principles, social networks, hierarchy of worth
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108103ISBN: 978-91-7649-012-9OAI: diva2:754122
Public defence
2014-11-14, Ahlmannsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 220507100
Available from: 2014-10-23 Created: 2014-10-09 Last updated: 2014-11-10Bibliographically approved

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