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An ethnographic exploration of ship - shore communication

Kataria, Aditi 2015. An ethnographic exploration of ship - shore communication. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Shore based monitoring, communication, coordination and management of vessel traffic in ports worldwide is a real world problem. Informed by ethnomethodological studies of work, this thesis explores the ordered in situ work of Vessel Traffic Service Operators (VTSOs); the coordination of vessel traffic; the fine grained artful performance and achievement of safe fairway navigation and the challenges faced by the VTS operators in the daily accomplishment of their institutional role. An important source of data in this ethnographic study is the naturally occurring interaction on the main working Very High Frequency (VHF) radio channel of the port, which helps explore institutional talk at work deployed to facilitate interaction, negotiation and the accomplishment of safe navigation. Three additional research techniques are utilised for data generation – observations, semi structured interviews and unstructured interviews. The case of a major Indian world port is utilised to explore the daily work of marine traffic coordination and the (pro)active interactional accomplishment of channel navigation. Research takes place against the dynamic backdrop of the harbour – a complex space with a myriad of social actors populating the scene – the VTS operators atop their tower; shipboard seafarers negotiating restricted waters; pilots rendering pilotage services; Dock Master commanding the station; seafarers aboard small local craft and lively fishermen who at times pepper the marine radio with colourful language. Two categories of findings emerge – port interaction order, institutional talk and the contingent practices that accomplish the safety/time critical work and the technological, organisational and social constraints that shape, affect and inform the work of the VTS operators. This study fills a gap in ethnomethodological studies of work with its focus on the VTS work site – a centre of coordination; it explores social order and contributes to the understanding of the local practical achievement of traffic coordination and channel navigation in restricted waters. It also contributes to our understanding of the constraints faced by the workers in the safety critical VTS work setting. Also discussed are the status of VTS operators and occupational hierarchy in the world port. The thick description of in situ VTS’ work informs maritime safety, particularly relevant in safety critical, congested and restricted sea areas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: NIPPON
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:59

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