Culture
in Myth and materiality in a woman’s world
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This chapter argues that women's culture in Shetland actually had only a marginal connection to the islands' dominant economic activity, fishing. There was a stand-alone female culture in which women created networks founded upon their work and sociability. Female culture in Shetland was characterised by a combination of solidarity, reciprocity and self-preservation. Solidarity and reciprocity were essential for survival in a harsh economic environment, and self-preservation was inevitable when resources were hard to come by. Reputation was the foundation for all transactions and activities which were played out around understandings of solidarity, trust and vulnerability and were cemented through female sociability and women's belief in traditional lore or superstition. Shetland women established their reputation in two ways: through their engagement in the economy and as moral actors.

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