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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 245-256

Breaking the Bounds of Rationality: Values, Relationships, and Decision-making in Mexican Fishing Communities

Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Nicole D Peterson
Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.145135

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In fishing communities in Baja California Sur, Mexico, fisheries management is heavily influenced by models of individual economic rationality held by biologists and others involved in management, in which fishermen 'choose' to overfish because they are motivated by selfish individual rationality. Yet there is much that is neglected by these models, including the pressures of economic markets, family and community expectations, and cultural and personal value systems. Actual decisions about fishing and resource management rarely match the expectations of classical or neoliberal economic models of individual behaviour. I argue here that rational choice theory is a historically and culturally constructed discourse that becomes a taken-for-granted lens for viewing behaviour around the world. The effects of this discourse can be seen in the policies that are derived from them, as shown through this case study.

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