Coastal resource foraging, the culture of coastal livelihoods, and human well-being in Southeastern Puerto Rico: consensus, consonance, and some implications for coastal policy

  • Carlos G. García-QuijanoEmail author
  • John J. Poggie


Based on 3 years of fieldwork in Southeastern Puerto Rico (SE PR), we report on data showing that Puerto Rican coastal resource foragers (CR foragers) have a distinct cultural model of well-being, when compared with their non-foraging neighbors. The CR foragers’ cultural model of well-being is directly related to the foraging lifestyle. It emphasizes independence, investment in social relationships, and enjoyment of the natural environment over the more stable access to higher income available in the formal economy. As such, we view this cultural model as an alternative to the individualistic/capitalistic model of continual growth and wealth accumulation. Building on previous analysis in which we found higher subjective well-being for coastal resource foragers compared with non-foraging neighbors as reported by García-Quijano et al. (J Anthropol Res 71 (2):145–167 2015), we find that the higher well-being of CR foragers compared with their non-foraging neighbors is consistent with Dressler’s (2018) framework of cultural consonance, in this case between what they value in life and what they are able to obtain through their occupation and lifestyle as CR foragers. We discuss the implication of our findings for coastal policy in CR foraging dependent locales such as SE PR.


Coastal resource foraging Well-being Cultural consonance Consensus Culture of coastal resource use Puerto Rico 



We are thankful for the collaboration of the many individuals and their families on the southeastern coast who generously gave us their time and shared their knowledge and experiences with us. We thank our co-investigators in this grant, Dr. Ana Pitchon and Dr. Miguel Del Pozo, and our dedicated student researchers, Natalia Rodríguez, Víctor Pagán, and Yasmín Pérez, for their fieldwork amid sometimes challenging circumstances, as well as Manuel Valdés-Pizzini, Kurt Grove, Ruperto Chaparro, Lillian Ramírez Durand, Angel Dieppa, Ruth Santiago, Nelson Santos Torres, Catherine Robinson, and Jon Blaney for the support and guidance in various stages of our project. We thank our families for supporting us and sharing time in the field. Dr. Hilda Lloréns and Dr. José Alvarado provided valuable help in our analysis. We thank three anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions that helped us strengthen this manuscript.

Funding information

This research was funded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine AffairsUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA

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