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Transnational Communities Programme

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The formation and maintenance of transnational seafarer communities


Principal Investigators
Professor Anthony Lane
Department of Maritime Studies and International Transport
University of Wales, Cardiff
PO Box 907
Cardiff CF1 3YP
Dr Erol Kahveci
Department of Maritime Studies and International Transport
University of Wales, Cardiff
PO Box 907
Cardiff CF1 3YP
Professor Anthony Lane
Tel: 01222 874475
Fax: 01222 874619
Duration of Research
September 1998 - October 2001

Annual Report 2001

Short Summary

Aims and objectives

In the context of globalisation of the seafaring labour market, the research examines the cultural and economic effects of living and working within transnational structures.

Specific Objectives are:

  • Investigate the negotiation of shipboard social order among multinational and multicultural crews
  • Contribute to the debates on transnational communities through comparative and overlapping case studies exploring whether and to what extent cultural hybridities and identities are emerging
  • Examine the significance of ethnically/nationality-based informal networks and remittance chain organisation in the formation and maintenance of expatriate transnational communities
  • Explore how seafarers and their families accommodate socially and organisationally to employment in distant transnational communities
  • Revive and re-evaluate the use of actors’ reflective diaries as research instruments

Methodology/study design

The research will operate at four levels - moving from interviews with key informants/gatekeepers in shipmanagement and a simultaneous survey of crew composition (phase 1) to shipboard observational studies (phase 2), port-based communities (phase 3), and finally to seafarers’ families (phase 4). Research methods will include analyses of documentary sources; semi structured interviews with key informants; life histories and semi-structured interviews with seafarers and some of their relatives at community levels; participant and non-participant observations, focus groups onboard and ashore, life histories; quantitative surveys of crew composition and seafarers' reflective diaries.

Academic and Policy implications

The study will bring the world’s first fully globalised transnational workforce to academic attention and substantially contribute to debates on globalisation generally. More immediately, the study is directly addressing precisely those practical issues of transnational communities preoccupying all sections of the shipping industry from shipowners and managers to welfare and trade union organisations. In the medium term seafarers and their families might substantially, if indirectly, benefit from this research.

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