Coastal resource foraging, life satisfaction, and well-being in southeastern Puerto Rico

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Based on ethnographic work in coastal southeastern Puerto Rico, we explore the empirical observation that people who make a significant part of their living from fishing and exploitation of other coastal resources are more satisfied with their lives, their work, and their enjoyment of community life than their fellow community members. Coastal resource foraging (CRF) denotes a set of economic activities and social relations related to making a living by the capture and selling of local coastal resources (primarily fish and shellfish). We argue that CRF in southeastern Puerto Rico can be understood as a separate mode of production within the region's rural, coastal communities and use this framework to make intracultural comparisons between individuals and households. Coastal resource foragers report higher overall life satisfaction than their non-foraging neighbors. We theorize that this pattern is due to higher concordance between CRF as a mode of production and the domains of life identified as important by subjects. We discuss our findings in light of the literature on life and job satisfaction and note their importance for coastal policy-making.

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Journal of Anthropological Research