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Models of Caribbean societies

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Sociological perspective on Caribbean societies

Sociological perspective on Caribbean societies

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  • 1. Models of Caribbean Society Plantation - Best, Levitt, Beckford Plural - M.G Smith Creole - K. Braithwaite, E. Goveia Class Stratified - Carl Stone
  • 2. The Most Developed Models  Plantation Society  Plural Society  Creole Society
  • 3. Plantation Society Model  A particular class of society with distinguishing characteristics of social structure and political organization, and laws of motion governing social change (Barrow and Reddock, 2001).  Demographic, political and socio-economic structures are almost identical to those found within the individual plantation community.
  • 4. Plantation Society Model  Backdrop: - Analytical significance & pervasive influence of the plantation in the New World  Two Variants - - Weak (Horowitz, Patterson, Wagley) Plantation communities characterized by unstable family units, hierarchical class relations, low levels of community integration, mobile populations often recruited for seasonal work - Strong : draws on analysis of structural dependency in the Caribbean (Best & Levitt, Beckford, Witter)
  • 5. Plantation Models Characterizing Caribbean Economies Best and Levitt argued that:  Pure Plantation Economy of Slavery  Plantation Economy modified after Emancipation  Plantation Economy further modified after 1940 with „Industrialization by Invitation‟  They ignored the social forces that contributed to change in the region
  • 6. George Beckford’s Outline of Plantation Society  Distinguished between plantation as social system and plantation as economic system  Modern Plantation Society has roots in Slave Plantation system - mercantile capitalism  Societies produced commodities for sale in international Capitalist markets  Surpluses generated from exploitation of slave labour fueled process of accumulation that gave rise to development of Industrial Capitalism in Europe  Slave Plantation society was an integral part of International Capitalist System
  • 7. Beckford cont’d.  Future of Plantation Societies bound up with future of International Capitalism  That future will be determined by interaction of 2 opposing forces  1. Continuing imperialist expansion of Capitalism in new shapes & forms  2. The strengthening of popular forces worldwide for national liberation
  • 8. Beckford cont’d.  Hierarchical chain of command formed with White Europeans as owners of the MOP  That occupational structure instituted race in the process of production & set up a particular class society  Economic spin-off of the Plantation Society is the production of commodities for export
  • 9. Beckford cont’d.  Trade marked by “unequal exchange” & keeps Plantation Society backward relative to Industrial Capitalist societies. This arises from existence of a reserve army of labour in Plantation Society  Post Emancipation - nonagricultural activities (tourism, mining, light manufacturing) began. These diversified mix of commodity production & complicated class structure  Institutionalization of race & class remained with mode of production
  • 10. Beckford cont’d.  Plantation Society is one in a state of constant crisis  Capital - labour antagonism is central to all Capitalist economies, but is heightened in Plantation Society due to element of race  Plantation Society is a plural society - different racial & cultural groups brought together only in realm of economic activity
  • 11. Beckford cont’d.  Plantation Society is dependent on Metropolitan economy  Fortunes of all groups in Plantation Society bound up with relations between Plantation Economy and Metropolitan Economy  Plantation Society will always exhibit underlying social tension & internal crisis will be a recurrent feature  Crises likely to involve racial divisions
  • 12. Features of Plantation Society  Culturally plural with races brought together mainly by economic activity - rigid patterns of stratification  Political power exercised on behalf of planter class, in spite of, for example, black political parties.  Development of local gov‟t. inhibited & highly centralized state due to legacy of „loose & weak‟ local communities
  • 13. Features of Plantation Society  Brittle social order maintained through expansion of educational opportunities for lowest strata, nationalism against the metropole & energies of races themselves  Examples : Privy Council abolition; Reparations debate, Nationalism, etc. Dependent industrialization (subservient partnership with foreign capital) Plantation Agriculture of diminished importance
  • 14. Some Visible Elements of Plantation Society  1. Skin Bleaching / Preference for lighter complexion  2. Dependency Syndrome - negotiation for preferential trading arrangements  3. Culturally Plural society - „mixing but not combining‟; class/colour stratification (rigid in parts)  4. Inequality & discrimination of poor, especially black population (inner-cities)  5. Price - taking / weak manufacturing; primary production  6. Ill effects of globalization (economies threatened, as well as companies)
  • 15. Has Anything Changed?  Tourism, Sports and Arts and Entertainment have been able to move the Caribbean from being solely price-taking to price-setting  Manufacturing and Service driven sectors have grown over the period  Weakened rigidity of social order / social system through increased opportunities for upward social mobility
  • 16. Has Anything Changed?  Kamau Brathwaite noted the rise and fall in the fortunes of particular social groups and classes, and of their political, cultural, economic and ideological practices and expressions (Craig)  Diminished significance of Agriculture, particularly the Plantation Agriculture Sector  Kumper noted, however, that capitalism has been reshaped and morphed, evident now in partnerships that have some subservient relationship by locals with foreign capital
  • 17. Creole Society  The problem of identity has always been an issue in the modern Caribbean.  One of the earliest lines of cleavage was that between whites and mixed elements (creoles).  Rivalry was succeeded between Afro-creoles and indentured workers (TT, Guyana and Suriname) (Selwyn Ryan, 2002: JACAS Symposium Series 15)
  • 18. Creole Society  The term has varying meanings in the Caribbean.  Stuart Hall (1977: 164) states “ the term itself is hard to define, it‟s ambiguity being itself an index of its complex articulation with the structured form of the cultures and groups with which it interacts.”  Lowenthal (1972: 32-33) The term was originally used to define African slaves born in the new world. Later extended to “…anyone, black or white, born in the West Indies…then extended to things, habits and ideas…opinions expressed”
  • 19. Creole Society  Nettleford (1997: 74) Whites born in the American colonies were regarded as “creoles” by their metropolitan cousins.  Jamaican born slaves were similarly differentiated from their “salt-water negro” colleagues freshly brought in from West Africa.  Genuine Caribbean expressions are regarded as those that have been “creolized” into indigenous form and purpose distinctively different from the original elements from which those expressions first sprang.
  • 20. Creole Society  Brathwaite (1974) Creolisation is the process through which the various groups in the Caribbean society absorb each other‟s cultural products.  The Africans and Indians imitated or were forced to imitate the Europeans.  Europeans inadvertently but at times consciously absorbed some of the cultural styles, languages and mores of the subordinate groups.
  • 21. Creole Society  The Africans and Indians acculturated while the European‟s process was defined as interculturation.  The former is the result of the yoking of cultures by force and example while the latter is an unplanned, unconscious and osmotic relationship following from the yoking process.
  • 22. Plural Society  Alex de Tocqueville – the older and better known usage links pluralism with situations in which competing views and program are canvassed freely on issues and subjects or public interest eg. religious, political or educational processes and conditions.  Presupposes the universalistic incorporation of all citizens.
  • 23. Plural Society  Furnivall- “…involves the differential incorporation of those who participate freely in the juridical, civic and political institutions …and others who do not.”  “Each is in the strictest sense a medley, for they mix but do not combine. Each holds by its own culture and language, its own ideas and ways…There is a plural society, with different sections of the community living side by side, but separately, within the same political unit. Even in the economic sphere, there is a division of labour along racial lines”
  • 24. Plural Society  M.G. Smith the most noted exponent  Societies seen as culturally & socially homogeneous – common system of basic institutions shared  Heterogeneous societies – differing „alternative‟ and „exclusive‟ institutions are practised  Plural societies – basic institutions not shared by the cultural sections that comprise them  Because of institutional and value differentiation, such societies are inherently unstable and monopoly of power by one cultural section is important to the status quo (Craig).
  • 25. Some Criticisms of Plural Society Model  Lloyd Braithwaite argued that every society is to some extent „pluralistic‟  Failure to consider acts of inter-culturation, according to Kamau Brathwaite (Creole Society)  Static and failing to consider alliances between and among groups  Stone argued that it is not institutional but material differences that define social groups