Offshore but on track? Hypermobile and hyperflexible working lives

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Abstract

In the spring 2011, and again during summer 2012, the small coastal town of Hirtshals (approx. 6000 inhabitants) on the north-western shore of Denmark was home to two spectacular symbols of the success of an emergent offshore sector in the region, namely the upgrading and overhauling of two gigantic oil rigs. Providing temporary work for an estimated 800 persons WHO literally worked day and night for the 100 days each rig was at dock, these events affected the entire community. The paper presents evidence from seven biographical interviews with local men whose working lives were directly or indirectly affected by these events. As the interviews illuminate, respondents are often extremely mobile and flexible in terms of their
jobs, in some cases ‘bungy jumping’ through working life in an apparent effort to retain local ties while pursuing global opportunities. The paper contributes to qualifying more general sociological discussions about the push for increased mobility and flexibility in a presumably increasingly globalising labour market reality. Ultimately, it seems that the multiple ways in which Hirtshals is
marked as marginal – in terms of geography, socio-economic profile and discourse – may serve to normalise demands for flexibility and mobility, at least among parts of the local working population.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
JournalCommunity, Work & Family
Volume19
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)538-553
Number of pages16
ISSN1366-8803
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Keywords

  • flexibility
  • mobility
  • precariousness
  • marginality
  • biographical interviews

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