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Hooked on Markets: Revaluing Coastal Fisheries in Liberal Rural Capitalism
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Natural resource–based economies are typically embedded in rural networks of production. In recent years, however, the privatisation of access rights and the organisation of markets have substantially transformed some of these rural economies.

By using the case of the Icelandic coastal fisheries, this ethnographic study shows, on one hand, how property rights–based management regimes and markets have reconfigured rural economies by disentangling fishers from their community ties, leading to increasing investment and technological development in the industry. On the other hand, the case shows how daily economic ‘coping’ has re-entangled fishers in a web of money-mediated relations that have economised economic expectations from cost-awareness to increasing profit-making in the industry.

This economisation of the fisheries’ economy, however, not only reconfigures forms of coordination and network ties, but also changes the social practices that lie at the heart of economic value itself: fishing and processing. Hence, the study shows how artisanal and labour-intensive industries cope with the ‘primacy of the economy’ not only by rationalising their operations towards economic efficiency, but also by recontextualising traditional forms of knowledge and technology for the collective construction of a new 'quality'-oriented market-niche.

The consequences of this coping, however, are twofold: while on one hand this development has led to the valorisation of line-caught fish, coastal fisheries have become objects of financial speculation, leading to a paradoxical cycle of investment and technological problem-solving that is pushing the temporal and spatial boundaries of coastal fisheries in local networks of production. As a consequence, the meaning of ‘small boats’ as social backbone and symbol of rural independence is being contested.

This study is not only of interest to scholars dealing with processes of economisation and marketisation of rural networks of production and natural resources, but also for those interested more generally in the role of markets, technology and changing economic practices of evaluation and valuation in contemporary capitalism.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Sociology, Uppsala University , 2016. , 226 p.
Keyword [en]
marketisation, economisation, valuation, evaluation, practice theory, technology, quality, relational ethnography, natural resources, fisheries, rural capitalism
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-277871ISBN: 978-91-506-2533-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-277871DiVA: diva2:907818
Public defence
2016-04-22, Gustavianum, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2016-03-29 Created: 2016-02-23 Last updated: 2016-03-29Bibliographically approved

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