Local capitalisms and sustainability in coastal fisheries: Cases from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands

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2013, 33 pp. 107 - 138
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Purpose: To critically assess engagements with capitalism in coastal fisheries development, considering their success or otherwise for coastal villagers. Approach: Using field research and written reports of projects and the concept of "social embeddedness" we analyze two fisheries development projects as local instances of capitalism. Findings: Coastal peoples in the Pacific have been selling marine products for cash since the earliest days of contact with both Europeans and Asians. Since the 1970s, there have also been fisheries development projects. Both types of engagement with capitalism have had problems with commercial viability and ecological sustainability. One way to understand these issues is to view global capitalist markets as penetrating into localities through the lens of local cultures. We find, however, that local cultures are only one factor among several needed to explain the outcomes of these instances of capitalism. Other explanations include nature, national political and economic contexts, and transnational development assistance frameworks. The defining features of "local capitalisms" thus arise from configurations of human and nonhuman, local and outside influences. Social implications: Development project design should account for local conditions including: (1) village-based socioeconomic approaches, (2) national political economic contexts, (3) frameworks that donors bring to projects, and (4) (in)effective resource management. Originality/value of paper: The chapter builds on the experience of the authors over 15 years across multiple projects. The analysis provides a framework for understanding problems people have encountered in trying to get what they want from capitalism, and is applicable outside the fisheries sector. © 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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