Identity Construction in Transient Spaces: Hospitality Work On-Board Cruise Ships

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Abstract

Despite a growing interest in the well-being of cruise ship labor, very little is known in this area. This exploratory study seeks to investigate the strategies that front-line hospitality workers are able to negotiate and attach meaning to in this consumptive work experience. Twenty in-depth qualitative interviews were undertaken with front-line hospitality staff (waiters and pursers). The cruise ship, being a unique working environment—intense, restricted, and encapsulated—requires workers to adjust, adopt, and sacrifice to the sociospatial conditions. Therefore, through the transitory and active nature of identity salience, a ship-based identity was created. Five themes emerged from the data. Ship space, the system of the ship, and time were themes considered unique to the cruise ship industry, primarily acting as a binding mechanism, promoting a shared experience of belonging, and attachment. These themes were thought to provide the conditions to develop a ship-based identity. The two final themes, relationships and occupation, were the mediators in the context-specific factors with how the participants made sense of themselves and others. The exploratory findings provided in this study are potentially useful for practitioners seeking to further understand the development of harmonious communities in a transient workplace setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231 - 241
Number of pages11
JournalTourism in Marine Environments
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018

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