How couples negotiate livelihoods in a Danish island setting: The role of history, geography and gender relations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Finding a way to make a living may be difficult if one lives in a small island with few possibilities for regular full-time jobs. Focusing on how co-habiting couples negotiate their livelihood options with each other and with the island setting, the paper shows how the local labour market and its inherent (im)possibilities are shaped by a specific history, geography and set of gender relations. Empirically, the paper draws on couple interviews from the Danish island of Læsø, with approximately 1800 inhabitants. The analysis shows how history, traditions, geography and gender relations impact on livelihoods and possibilities for developing new lines of work. It also shows how these factors continuously interact with one another and are negotiated by both individuals and couples. Underscoring the argument that island labour markets are different from mainland labour markets, the analysis suggests that the need for negotiation may be more obvious in an island setting which is demographically and economically under pressure. Islands cannot simply be treated as ‘smaller’ versions of mainland communities. They pose qualitatively different contexts. The palpable geographic borders of the island community entail that ‘everybody knows everybody’, thus enhancing visibility of individual choices and roles in the local labour market. Therefore, the impact of intangible factors may be enhanced in island settings, where deviations from tradition become immediately observable as people live in close proximity to one another
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalGender, Place & Culture: A journal of feminist geography
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2024


  • gender relations
  • history
  • islands
  • labour markets
  • livelihoods


Dive into the research topics of 'How couples negotiate livelihoods in a Danish island setting: The role of history, geography and gender relations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this