Transition in nori cultivation: evolution of household contribution and gendered division of labor

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Abstract

Consumers throughout the world have gained familiarity with the seaweed nori (porphyra spp) thanks to the popularity of Asian cuisine, particularly Japanese sushi. Few actually know much about the people who produce this seaweed, however. This article presents qualitative social science research undertaken in Northeastern Japan among a community of nori cultivators on their production process and cultural way of life. Natural scientists acknowledge that in order to manage natural resources, it is actually the resource users who must be managed. In order to manage resource users, with the goals of social and environmental sustainability, we must understand both society and cultural institutions. With this in mind, this article focuses on the division of labor among cultivators, particularly along gender lines and the impacts, on a cultural level, of technological change on nori production. Technological change has had a profound impact on both the manner of nori production as well as the household division of labor and work and gender roles. Women play a key role in nori production today. With better understanding of such outward manifestations of culture and society we can bring the human dimensions of systems to bear in order to better manage these, and other natural resources.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCahiers de Biologie Marine
Volume52
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)527-533
ISSN0007-9723
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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