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Title: Changing constructions of identity :fisher households and industry restructuring
Authors: Williams, Ruth
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Fishing as an occupation provides more than a way of earning a living. Its traditions, structures and dynamics influence all aspects of the lives of individuals and households, and provide the basis for individual and collective identities. This research focuses on northeast Scotland, where communities have developed along this stretch of coast because of their relationship with the fishing industry. However, the industry is undergoing extensive restructuring, driven by fisheries management and policy responses to ecological problems in key stocks. This restructuring is bringing about major changes for the industry, and although the policies driving reform recognise there are socio-cultural implications, understandings of these impacts are underdeveloped. This research draws on theories of identity to conceptualise the socio-cultural foundations of the fishing industry. In-depth interviews with fishermen, former fishermen and their wives provide a rich source of data to explore the construction and performance of identity. This research demonstrates how three domains of fishing, the sea, household and community, are central spaces for fishing identity. In these spaces traditional symbols of fishing are used to create and maintain a shared understanding of the industry and collective identity. The changes brought about by the restructuring of the industry present challenges to these traditional constructions of identity and are undermining key symbols, such as maintaining a close-knit crew. The past is used as a resource to understand these present challenges, and in many cases positive fishing identities are being maintained. However there is a sense that fishing no longer occupies its central position within northeast Scotland; instead it has become a community within a community.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

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