Environment, labour and capitalism at sea

'Working the ground' in Scotland

By Penny McCall Howard

Environment, labour and capitalism at sea


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9414-3
  • Pages: 248
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: April 2017
  • BIC Category: Sociology & anthropology, Sociology, Human geography, Anthropology, NATURE / Ecosystems & Habitats / Oceans & Seas, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, Oceans & seas, Human Geography, Society & social sciences / Sociology & anthropology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
  • Series: New Ethnographies


This book explores how fishers make the sea productive through their labour, using technologies ranging from wooden boats to digital GPS plotters to create familiar places in a seemingly hostile environment. It shows how their lives are affected by capitalist forces in the markets they sell to, forces that shape even the relations between fishers on the same boat. Fishers frequently have to make impossible choices between safe seamanship and staying afloat economically, and the book describes the human impact of the high rate of deaths in the fishing industry.

The book makes a unique contribution to understanding human-environment relations, examining the places fishers create and name at sea, as well as technologies and navigation practices. It combines phenomenology and political economy to offer new approaches for analyses of human-environment relations and technologies.


Penny McCall Howard is National Research Officer for the Maritime Union of Australia


Part I: A metabolism of labour and environment
1 'Working the ground'
2 From Wullie's Peak to the Burma: naming places at sea
Part II: Techniques and technologies
3 Techniques to extend the body and its senses
4 From 'where am I?' to 'where is that?' Rethinking navigation
Part III: Capitalism and class
5 'You just can't get a price': the difference political economy makes
6 Structural violence in ecological systems
Conclusion: labour, class, environments and anthropology

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