The Fisherwomen of Fife


In maritime households in the North Atlantic region, a number of ways have been devised for coping with the economic instability which arises from the household's reliance upon a resource that cannot be kept under direct human control. Depending upon the local labour-market opportunities, these coping strategies include the participation of women in a range of productive activities which augment, or stabilise income from the men's efforts at sea. The involvement of women in small-scale farming and fish-processing work has been well documented in the literature; less well known are cases where women were migrant labourers for at least part of their careers, and where the successful establishment of a new household depended upon the migratory labour of women. The occupational patterns of women in the Fife Coast fishing villages, although they have now passed into history, continue to be important element in the sense or the past that local women have, and in the ideas they have about themselves in comparison with other women who do not share a fishing background.

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Chalmers, D. & Byron, R., (1993) “The Fisherwomen of Fife”, Ethnologia Europaea 23(2), 97-110. doi:


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Deirdre Chalmers (The Queen's University of Belfast)
Reginald Byron (University of Wales)



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