Cooperation and quality of life among Bering Sea fishermen and their families
Robinson, Thomas F.
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Bering Sea pollock fishing is characterized by high levels of physical risk, uncertainties in wages and schedule, close and extensive interdependence on other workers, and long absences from home. This occupation leads to a way of life which is full of extremes and has unusually strong effects on the family. This study examines the effects of the occupation on the quality of family life and working life through a teamwork perspective. It is a study of the slow breakdown in cooperation among families and the enhancement of cooperation in the work setting. The breakdown in family cooperation reduces the family’s ability to respond to its members’ needs for love, inclusion, and intimacy, and has important consequences for the quality of family life. The enhancement of cooperation in the work setting contributes to the creation of important social benefits such as trust, agreement, and a sense of inclusion. These social outcomes, and improved task performance, positively influence the quality of working life. Major themes include anthropology at home and among peers, family adaptations to occupational influences, the role of story-telling in building cooperation and commitment in teams, generosity and relaxed social accounting strategies in adult socialization, and the importance of extremes in evaluating the quality of working life.