'There is many a thing that can be done with money': women, barter and autonomy in a Scottish fishing community in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Abrams, L. (2012) 'There is many a thing that can be done with money': women, barter and autonomy in a Scottish fishing community in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Signs, 37(3), pp. 602-609. (doi:10.1086/662700)

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Abstract

Representations of Shetland womanhood have a place in our understanding of gender relations in this island community but not the place one might expect. Far from conforming to the image of the brazen fishwife and the exploited preindustrial handknitter, women in these occupations exhibited a degree of independence perhaps unexpected in a society so dominated by the farming-fishing economy. Yet the particular demographic characteristics of Shetland—a society in which women far outnumbered men—created a situation whereby women marked out a role for themselves that traversed both private and public domains. The sheer fact of male absence (due to seasonal fishing trips and more lengthy whaling and merchant shipping voyages) created a society with very particular labor characteristics, which gave women a degree of economic and, more significantly, cultural power. This power rested on women’s skills and endurance as domestic producers, their active role in the market as traders and marketers of goods, and their place in the community as possessors of certain kinds of knowledge or cultural capital.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Women Fishing Shetland
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Abrams, Professor Lynn
Authors: Abrams, L.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Signs
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0097-9740
ISSN (Online):1545-6943
Published Online:01 January 2012
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 The University of Chicago
First Published:First published in Signs 37(3):602-609
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher
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