Certified guides are exemplary, well-educated, self-employed, casual labourers in a liberal and competitive job market. Applying grounded theory, this exploratory study builds on in-depth qualitative interviews with Danish, Italian and French certified guides. Informed by the theory of job crafting and adding a critical perspective, we understand the guides’ agency, and how they craft scope, tasks and relations in order to sustain a positive self-image and a meaningful working life. Comparing certified guides’ job-crafting practices, we learn that guides are alike across the three countries, and they perceive themselves as natural-born who engage in self-actualization. They thrive on connecting with tourists, whom they empower or enlighten, as they craft idealistic or social objectives. At the same time, the guides work in individual workspaces, and they adapt to a competitive labour market, by assuming extra tasks and working for free or below tariffs, while they engage in fierce competition particularly with newcomers in order to make themselves employable. However, the study also indicates that organizational structures such as guide associations, which act as brokers to the market, may take the brunt of the individual competition in regard to the employers.
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