ABSTRACT

There are two important distinctions between people on Gaye Caulker: islanders and non-islanders, kin ("family") and non-kin. These distinctions have some important implications. First, islanders have preferential access to land and to membership in the coop. Second, islanders, through their network of kin have preferential access to lobster territories and to social and economic support. In the absence of ruling families, a rigid class structure and wider forms of social organization, extended families are the main social groups on the island. Islanders espouse an egalitarian ethos and place great importance on an individual's reputation for work and honesty. Within this framework of egalitarian ideals and a lack of wider institutions, some individuals have developed reputations for hard work, loyalty to kin and reliability. Some of these highly regarded men regularly serve on the Managing Committee of the Co-op and their families expand and flourish.