Dennett, Adam, Cameron, Derek, Bamford, Colin and Jenkins, Andrew Kevin (2013) A Metaphorical Exploration of Work, Life and Community On-Board Cruise Ships: A Hospitality Perspective. In: 3rd International Conference on Tourism and Hospitality Management, 27th - 29th June 2013, Athens, Greece. (Unpublished)

This research provides a sociological understanding of front line hospitality staff, focusing particularly on waiters and pursers employed on cruise ships. Its purpose is to evaluate the complexities and richness of their work and social experiences as they negotiate, create and justify their identities and community formations in the unique and under-researched environment of a cruise ship. Conceptually, the research investigates the inevitable and inextricable links between identity, work and community to explore their perceptions of themselves, others and their world. Being part of a wider research project, this paper metaphorically explores twenty semi-structured interviews to creatively gather an “insider’s” view of the participants’ work, community and cruise ship environment. Ultimately, a metaphor can be used as a porthole into self image, guided by the framework of the cruise ship to help construct meaning. Therefore, the metaphors used by participants were not a method to explain the organisation, but rather how the members come to understand themselves within the organisation. What is clear from this study is that all participants created a ship-based identity, which was different from how they perceived themselves on land.
Being an environment that is unique, workers have to adapt, adopt and sacrifice - their previous identity has to be reshaped to meet the criteria of the place and system of the ship. Waiters were significantly more likely to define themselves and their world based upon their occupational perceptions and relationship with management, while pursers reflected upon their social and personal opportunities as a tool for self-definition. The outcomes of the research present an exploratory, in-depth account of the working lives of hospitality workers on cruise ships. The findings will be of value and relevance to cruise ship operators when tackling social issues relating to the employment of cruise ship workers.

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