The influence of ideology and the role it plays in adaptation to the occupation of fishing

Kate Elizabeth Yentes, University of Rhode Island


The purpose of this project is to test the role of ritual as an intervening variable between the risks fishermen face and their job satisfaction as proposed by Pollnac and Poggie (2008). Pollnac and Poggie suggest that ritual functions to reduce the perception and hence the anxiety resulting from risk; thus, increasing their levels of well-being and job satisfaction. ^ There are two types of risk in the fishery: risk to production and risk to person. There are changes occurring that have an impact on such risks. Days at Sea regulations decrease safety and pose a risk to production as well. While it is proposed that new regulations involving the establishment of sectors may increase safety and reduce risk (Petruny-Parker 2008). Taboos among New England fishermen are for the most part responses to the perceived risk associated with protection of life and limb, with only a minority of the taboos associated with production of fish (Poggie 1980, Poggie and Pollnac 1988). ^ How do fishermen adapt to risk and how do fishermen fulfill the psychological needs that accompany the risks and dangers that come with the occupation of fisherman? Some speculate that rituals/taboos are involved. "Coal miners and fishermen as well as rodeo performers and gamblers are in occupations and situations that are replete with ritual magic…The 'retention' of rituals in these cases, in an otherwise highly scrutinized society, functions to bridge the gaps of uncertainty" (Poggie and Gersuny 1972:66). The use of rituals/taboos enables fishermen to process and cope with the dangers of fishing. It is a psychological outlet for them. If fishermen have rituals/taboos in place, then their perception of risk will be lower and they will in turn have less mental anguish which leads to better well-being. The more psychologically sound the fisherman is, the more attentive they will be, which will reduce risk. ^ There are also other factors that can influence ritual behavior. It appears that older fishermen will believe in more rituals/taboos than younger fishermen. Poggie and Gersuny (1972) have argued that the persistence of superstitions among fishermen is a relic of the past 'coming from time' when fishing was much more hazardous than it is today" (Poggie and Gersuny 1972:72). It is also important to determine the influence of coming from a fishing family because as Poggie et al. (1976) suggest, "…one potential determinant of variability in taboo behavior is the occupational subculture of family origin. It is expected that individuals from a fishing family are more extensively exposed to the folklore tradition of taboo behavior, and thus possess a greater knowledge of fishermen's taboos than those without such background" (Poggie et al. 1976:259). Poggie and Pollnac (1988), however present a finding suggesting that coming from a fishing family preadapts a fisher to the risks of fishing; hence, resulting in fewer taboos. These contradictory findings will be also assessed in my research.^

Subject Area

Sociology, Theory and Methods

Recommended Citation

Kate Elizabeth Yentes, "The influence of ideology and the role it plays in adaptation to the occupation of fishing" (2012). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1508182.