Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 1 2003, page 43-59.
English resume

If you pay with peanuts you get a monkey

The concept of culture at work in multiethnic ship crew

Fabienne Knudsen

Globalisation in seafaring has existed for many years, and the Western shipping companies employ cheap manpower from developing countries, working together with Western officers. The article is based on an ongoing three years project: "Working and leisure relations between Danish and Filipino sailors on Danish ships". The purpose is to analyse some of the ways cultural and structural issues interconnect in a specific working environment. Cultural explanations are not neutral, and in this case they often reflect the dilemma, in which Danish seafarers are trapped: On one side there is the necessity to get along with their foreign colleagues with whom they have to work and live for months, and on the other side there is their awareness that the cheaper foreign labour represents a threat to their future employment. In that sense, they have to maintain a negative picture of their colleagues to underline that they themselves are worth the higher salary. The evolutionist paradigm fits in very well with this type of justification. The article also addresses a critical approach to a static and context-independent concept of culture. Such a concept may provide some explanations while facing an unknown culture, but it may also contribute to mask or even justifying the structural inequalities which occur in workplaces with different conditions of employment, and which often reflect the global inequalities.



Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)


 

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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt