The Wrong Fish: Maneuvering the Boundaries of Market-based Resource Management

Alexander Dobeson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)


How can economic actors stay afloat in a highly volatile market environment? By drawing on ethnographic material from the Icelandic fishing industry, this article demonstrates how fishers maneuver the boundaries of market-based resource management that tend to ignore the ever-changing environment of the sea. The empirical material shows how fishers skillfully manipulate their socio-technical environment in order to adjust the market for so-called Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) with the movement of fish stocks. Accordingly, three coping practices are deployed: (i) tinkering with accounts, (ii) socio-technical conversion, and (iii) redefining boundaries. While these practices allow fishers to stay afloat, they are likewise undermined by the ever-changing environment of the sea, consequently fueling a money-induced cycle of socio-technical problem-solving and breakdowns.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)110-124
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Skillful coping
  • Environment
  • Uncertainty
  • Technology
  • Markets

Cite this