Careers and Labour Market Flexibility in Global Industries: The Case of Seafarers

Polina Baum-Talmor

    Research output: Other contribution


    The flexibilisation of labour in the global labour market has been a bone of contention among scholars from different disciplines over the past four decades. On the one hand, such employment is seen as a detrimental practice to employees, who might lose their occupational identity as well as constantly experience job insecurity and uncertainty. On the other hand, flexible employment is perceived as the pillar of freedom, enabling individuals to fulfil their potential through increasing labour market opportunities. In an attempt to assess these competing views within the context of a global industry where flexible employment is commonplace, the shipping industry has been chosen as the basis of an investigation to answer the following research questions:
    1. To what extent are flexible employment arrangements perceived as beneficial to employers?
    2. What are the perceived implications of flexible employment arrangements for employees?
    3. What is the relationship between the flexibility of employment and the occupational identities of seafarers?
    To answer these research questions, qualitative research methods were used to speak to over 70 participants. The methods included mostly semi-structured in-depth interviews and informal conversations conducted aboard a cargo ship.
    The findings of the thesis can be largely divided into three main aspects. First, the thesis sheds light on the complexities of flexible employment in the shipping industry (i.e. the perceived negative and positive implications of such employment) for employers and employees. Secondly, using the shipping industry as an example, the thesis challenges current widespread views about the benefits of flexible employment to employers. Thirdly, the thesis presents the idea of a ‘double occupational identity’ to describe the often-complex occupational identity of seafarers related to differences in perceived labour market power.
    Several strengths, limitations, and recommendations for policy and also for major stakeholders in the shipping industry are raised at the end of the thesis.
    Key words: Career; Employment; Flexible Labour; Global Labour Market; In-Depth Interviews; Job; Occupational Identity; Precarious Work; Qualitative Research Methods; Seafarers; Seafaring Career; Shipping; Work.
    Original languageEnglish
    TypePhD Thesis
    Media of outputWritten paper
    PublisherCardiff University
    Number of pages275
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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