Scott & Bourne
A Complete Anecdote Has Never Been Told:
Insights into Social Problems and Their
Relations to Crime in Innercities
S. Scott & Paul A. Bourne
Scott, S. & Bourne, P.A. (2013). A Complete Anecdote Has Never Been Told: Insights into Social
Problems and there Relations to Crime in Innercities. Kingston: Socio-Medical Research
Understanding the social problem of crime and violence in Jamaican inner cities
(commonly referred to as ghettos) is crucial to the development and future of the country. A
high incidence of crime and violence in the relatively depressed areas of the society cannot be
divorced from the larger structures of power, political control and citizen relationship. As such
researchers may find that studying and understanding this problem will help to determine if
there is indeed a causal relationship between crime and the listed variables. It may help in the
improvement of these conditions that are favorable to the manifestation of crime and violence.
Studying the issues of crime and its influential social problems are also important as it may
help to prevent future generations from being socialized into a society of brutal, irrational and
ill-conceived violence. The high incidence of crime and violence in Jamaican inner cities is as a
result of poverty, unemployment, low educational attainment, lack of social mobility, and
social inequality. The social inequalities in the Jamaican society is captured in the Gini
coefficient, the work of Derek Gordon (1987), Carl Stone (1987) and not the least is Adijah
“Vybz Kartel” Palmer. Unlike Gordon and Stone were political scientist at the University of the
West Indies, Mona campus, Adijah Palmer is a dancehall artiste whose works encapsulate the
his lived realities and those that caught his attention from others’ experiences.
Emergency we a suffa roun ere
Roun ere man a dead
Tings tuffa roun ere
Crime scene, that nuff man a go fa roun ere
Missa man weh yuh doing fi d gutter roun ere?
“Emergency”- By: Adijah “Vybz Kartel” Palmer
Welcome to Jamrock!
It is no secret and definitely no surprise that Jamaica is one of todays leading scenes of
escalating crime and violence (March & Bourne, 2011; Powell, Bourne & Waller, 2007;
Bourne, 2010, 2011; Bourne, Pinnock & Blake, 2012; Bourne & Solan, 2012). The plight of the
Jamaican deejays in songs such as “Emergency”, “Look into my eyes” and “Ghetto Anthem”
are not only for record sales or “forwards” but as a means of voicing the cries of the
disadvantaged majority. It is difficult to identify exactly when this crime problem begun but it
is obvious that there is indeed one and that it now serves to threaten the very existence of the
country. Newspaper head lines such as “Three slaughtered today”, “Bodies found in Barrels
downtown”, “Man stabs woman to death” “Police raid finds 800 kg coke and ganja” and I
could name many more of similar nature, are no exaggerations, they are not fiction, they are
what happen in Jamaica on a regular basis. Crime and violence is not a new phenomenon,
Barry Chevannes (1996) holds that violence as a means of settling disputes is as old as
mankind, as the story of Cain and Abel tells. Jamaica is then no exception, we are not the first
and we definitely will not be the last. However according to the study “They Cry Respect”
(1996), Jamaica has moved from that state of verbal violence or stick fights which existed in
the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s the use of the gun. Chevannes holds that nothing is more swift and
irreversible than the modern gun. Already the crime rate here in Jamaica has surpassed that
level of tolerance. Headley (2002) asserts that over the last 40 years, annual homicides in
Jamaica averaged in the vicinity of 40 or more murders per 100,000. However crime runs the
entire gamut- ranging from the common property crime to fraud, racketeering and corruption in
the highest places. But the most worrisome has been the high numbers of homicides.
According to Don Robotham (2003) the contributory factors to the high incidence of
crime and violence in Jamaica are the general demographic, economic, political and social
factors. These factors have been found to contribute significantly to the creation of an
environment conducive to the high rates of violent crimes. He continues that there is a plethora
of such factors: the size and growth of the 15-29 age group, population urbanization and
density. The slum communities around parish capitals particularly Kingston, St. Andrew and
St.Catherine continue to grow as unemployed and undereducated youths migrate from rural
communities in search of better conditions in the city. Professor Trevor Munroe (2002) asserts
that often these “better conditions” that they seek are non existent and the conditions are often
times much harsher in urban areas than they are in rural areas. However many choose to remain
in the urban areas and hence have helped to increase the hopelessness of the area. Robotham
continued to list housing and social services, levels and duration of unemployment, levels of
literacy and education, cognitive and moral development, inequality and social distance and
value changes in Jamaican societies in recent years, as influences on the crime rate in Jamaica.
The extraordinary crime rate in Jamaica, particularly in the capital city of Kingston is
prevalent in the fractions that are regarded as inner cities or ghettoes. Anthony Harriot (2003)
holds that for the most part these areas are deprived of the material economic base whereby its
members can reproduce and adequately maintain themselves. Harriot goes further to speak of
blocked legitimate opportunities and social exclusion that result in the alternate illegitimate
opportunity structure that engenders aggressive behavior and violence. The alternative structure
created by these individuals is the means through which they “get paid” and are able to
“survive”. This structure goes against the societal norm that dictates that a legitimate 9 to 5 job
is the acceptable means of getting money. These inner city members resort to what Professor
Bernard Headley (1994) describes as basic street leveled crime and violence, which includes
robbery, petty larceny, house breaking, stickups or even murder as their means of survival.
“Poor people fed up, to how the system sheg up”!
Any people who do not spend enough to provide for the poor, won’t be able to spend
enough to protect the rich - Tanya Stephens
What is poverty? Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and
not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not being able to go to school and not knowing how to
read. Poverty is not having a job; it is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is
losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of
representation and freedom. Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across
time, and has been described in many ways .Most often, poverty is a situation many people
want to escape but hardly ever do. Poverty is vicious, poverty can be deadly.
Jamaicans living in the some rural areas or “country” and in the Kingston Metropolitan
Area (KMA) inner cities or ghettos have forever been plagued with an on going vicious cycle
of poverty. The literature on poverty in this paper will be as it relates to crime and violence.
Over all poverty has increased and crime expanded during the forty odd years since Jamaica
was granted its independence. The Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (2002) states that the
incidence of poverty averaged 19.7% in 2002 compared with 16.9% in 2001. Anthony Harriot
(2001), states that the high concentration of the incidence of crime and violence in the Kingston
Ghetto areas is hardly a chance occurrence. These are the areas where the poor, unskilled, longterm unemployed and marginalized citizens are concentrated. Many reside in these areas
because they are poor, and there children continue to be poor because they reside there.
Except in a few cases, urban decay exists in all inner city communities, occupied mostly by the
unemployed and working poor. This concentration of urban joblessness, poverty, and poor
educational opportunities, is a result of a long process, which has now matured and has become
criminogenic. Although many administrations have tried to implement policies to stem the
problem of poverty, it still persists to an alarming extent. Bernard explains that this persistent
poverty simply indicates that the means of survival is denied to people, the door to better
prospects is slammed shut in their faces. He argues that the root causes for the alarmingly high
levels of street crime and violence are in a society that either withholds or denies prized
possessions from a significant number of its citizens. If this indeed the case then “why are we
so surprised at the level of crime and violence that exists in these communities, and as a result
in Jamaica”? Is it because we finally realize that the problem of crime and violence in these
relatively depressed areas cannot be divorced from the rest of the society? Headley holds that
victims, whether they are tourists, shopkeepers, drug trade competitors, political foes or
vulnerable women, all become expendable targets in a larger fiercer struggle for goods, status,
money and power.
In saying all this we have to point out that being a poor inner city resident does not
mean that you are or will eventually become a criminal. We all know that the significant
numbers of poor people living in the inner city areas are decent law abiding citizens only
looking for an opportunity to improve their lot in life. Nevertheless it is a fact that social
deprivation and poverty that exists in these areas often times force individuals to find alternate
means to provide for themselves and their children. It is then not a coincidence that if you were
to survey all the criminals in prison, you are unlikely to find among them many with addresses
in Norbrook, Cherry Gardens or Beverly Hills. To prove this we will include studies carried out
by Headley in the 1980’s and Hyacinth Ellis (1991). Both postulated that Jamaica’s imprisoned
came disproportionately from the most disadvantaged or slum areas of the island’s urban
centers. Headley goes further to implicate that rarely did the most violent repeat offenders
come from the close-knit upper or middle class family or traditional settings of “the country”.
Ellis confirms this assertion by stating that the Kingston /St. Andrew, urban St.Catherine are
the places most commonly listed as addresses by inmates. Though these studies are rather
dated, it continues to be exactly as Headley puts forward “the people we pay to lock up are
the very same people we lock out of the society” It is this hopelessness amongst our poor
people that continues to be the fuel for crime.
The devil finds work for idle hands
Providing no jobs and telling us stop the crime
Is like beating a child and telling him not to cry
With all the highway you a build and go tru
Yuh neva build a likkle avenue fi d youths dem
Earn a buck, things a run amok……..
“Turn the other cheek”- By: Vivene “Tanya” Stephens
The fact is that the Jamaican economy has not performed well over the last 35 years; the
country has therefore been unable to provide jobs to meet the needs of the ever growing
population. Professor Headley holds that ever since the 1950s there has been a growing
disparity between the annual rate of natural increase of the population and the capacity of the
economic structure to absorb these individuals by means of employment. Bernard maintains
that the classic problem that develops is too many persons chasing too little jobs. Of course
these limited jobs often go to the persons with more to offer (that is those more educated or
skilled). The sources of work are also limited by the high concentration of persons who have no
skills and therefore form part of a very large group of common labourers. These unskilled
persons make up what is referred to as unemployable persons. In this instance it becomes clear
that the sole problem is not that these individuals are unemployed but that they are also lacking
the skill and education making them unemployable in the nation’s job market. A survey done
by the National Inner City Committee revealed that in 1993 a mere 13% of the residents of
Jones Town (a Jamaican inner city area) had proper training in any particular skill. Another
53% admitted to having no particular skill whatsoever. However, in regards to this paper, I
have chosen to expound on the concept of being unemployed rather than being unemployable.
Nevertheless it is hard to write a paper like this without even once mentioning the other
Scarcity of regular or conventional jobs results in the inner city’s common labourers
having to resort to odd sporadic forms of employment. Robotham describes a situation of a
large youthful population (under 30 years) being unemployment (60%) with the majority of
them being male. Headley holds that many of these young males sit idly by unless and until
there is a programme or development which requires labour intensive input, usually on the
docks or construction sites. When this type of job is not available, Headley lists car minding
(typical today in downtown Kingston), casual messengering, postering, finding parking places,
opening cars and cleaning cars as the jobs to which they usually resort. The newest
phenomenon to date, that I have observed, is the “loada man”. This job entails getting
passengers to occupy the taxi (loading), then the individual (usually male) gets paid from 50
dollars up for each load he provides. Many of these available jobs are regarded as
“unprofitable” or below the reservation wage of the young males in particular but they often
times have to make do with them.
Harriot (2000) holds that work in the form of wage employment no longer exempted
persons who participated in socially demeaning practices such as begging. Infact begging has
become one of the most prevalent occurrences in Jamaica. To understand this one need only to
take a brief stroll in down town, Kingston. On average, you will be guaranteed to come across
at least 5 persons, male or female, begging“lunch money”, “bus fare” or just begging money”.
Formal or legal employment is no longer the only solution young men have for gaining money.
Harriot argues that with this particular good, all other social goods – power, status and respect,
can now be purchased. The ghetto youth does not want to work from 9 to 5 for the “Babylon”
for “likkle or nuttin” that is of course if they, the Babylon, are even willing to employ them. As
such there is a growing lack of interest in regular employment and self employment tends to be
the preferred mode of work. “Hustling”, “juggling” or robbery is more rewarding, both in the
amount of money gained and the time taken to gain it.
It is a fact that many crimes committed in Jamaica are responses to the material
conditions inherent to economic dispossession. Essentially when you have a large population of
unemployed or unemployable restless youngsters, what is to stop them from becoming
employed in narcotics, hire for kill and other such deviant acts, that pays and pays well?. Urban
poor are in some cases unemployed because they are stigmatized as criminal and dangerous.
Harriot opines that it is this stigmatization that makes it hard for these people to get jobs in
already tight labour markets. The owners of the business places do not want to hire a “Dwayne
Anderson from August Town” for fear that he and his friends will relieve him of his property.
Also contact with police and time spent in jail makes formal job access improbable. Headley
holds that disconnected youths, locked out from basic societal benefits, powerless to change
their situations then take advantages of the opportunities afforded by street crime. Jamaican
dancehall artiste Tanya Stephens says it most eloquently “How can I promise me ago change
when a legal life is above mi price range, mi affi hustle”
These individuals may also become caught up in patronage which in Jamaica, more
often than not, is associated with violence. The National Committee on Political Tribalism
(1997) defines patronage as "the disbursement of the discretionary favours by the government
officials”. This simply means that the scarce resources of a society are distributed on the bias of
party affiliation. The manipulation of these resources provides strong motivation to party
supporters, since for many it offers the means to their basic existence and survival . Bernard
holds that though there have been a number of attempts by the government and other policy
makers to fix the problem of high unemployment, it still remains pervasive. Migration has
always been an option proposed by the government to deal with the problem of job shortages in
Jamaica. But Buju Banton sums this up by stating “who can afford to run will run, but what
about those who can’t? They will have to stay!” Faced with the problem of unemployment, it is
apparent that these inner city persons “will have to stay!”, unless again they choose to resort to
illegal means to get a visa, which in fact happens quite often. Regardless, the Committee on
Political Tribalism holds that inner cities remain places of “high levels of unemployment, a
proliferation of unskilled and unemployable youth, and pervasive poverty of purse and spirit”.
Is education really the key to success?
Ken Chaplin (2005) states that if the primary aim of education is to enable one to earn a
livelihood and live a useful, harmonious life with one’s fellow citizens, then our Jamaican
education system, especially at the early childhood, primary and secondary levels has failed its
citizens to a large extent. It is then not surprising that we are in the predicament that we are in
today. According to the National Committee on Political Tribalism, the poor conditions in the
inner city communities reflect the failure of the education process, where young people, the
regenerative capacity of the future, are graduated from schools without the basic skills required
to perform in the formal economy. Munroe maintains that though there is a rapid rise in the
levels of education since independence, there continues to be an “educated few” in our beloved
island. He states that 50 years ago about 1 out every 10 persons had access to secondary
education, while today the number is 7 out of 10. Though this is the case those persons at the
base of the pyramid, the poor people, continue to be neglected. In a survey of the education
system, it was noted that despite the availability of the additional spaces in the class rooms,
urban inner city residents and their children continue to be the exception rather than the rule.
The underemployment of the inner city persons prevents from being able to send or maintain
formal education for themselves or their children. The Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions
(2002) reported that just over 72.1 percent of the population between 3 and 24 years old was
enrolled in educational institutions. In the 15 to 16 age group, some 15.3 percent was not
enrolled in a school; the numbers being 67.9 percent of males and 60.3 percent females. The
drift of our young Jamaican males from school is a very serious problem. One of the most
significant experiences in my life, having never really read anything about the demography of
University of the West Indies, was to step into a class room “full a bear woman”. The female
population greatly outnumbered that of the males. This then begs the question where are our
males, especially our inner city males? The answer through mere observation seems- the street
corner, the jail house, and the cemeteries.
The study further noted that enrolment ranged from 16.9 among the poorest to 62.1 per
cent in the wealthiest group. Among the unemployed poor, education tends to stop at the
primary level with 70 per cent of them reporting no secondary education, says the Jamaica
Poverty Eradication Policy. On the matter of attendance, the 2002 Survey states that based on
data for a fixed period of 20 days, some 72.6 per cent of the students who were enrolled at the
primary and secondary levels were sent to school all day during that time. The major factor
constraining inner city students from attending school continues to be "money problems".
Contrary to popular belief mothers and fathers in the ghetto do want to send their offsprings to
school but they can hardly afford, literally living from hand to mouth. The basis of this
argument can be summed up in the question asked by Jamaican Reggae artiste, Ritchie Spice,
“if education is the key then why the bigga heads make it so expensive for me” The result is
that most of our youths leave school lacking the basic skills and knowledge required to gain
employment in any substantial paying establishment. The end product is unavoidable- barely
literate young men and women, out of school having no money and no one to depend on, turn
the next best alternative-crime. It becomes important for me however to mention that a few
more privileged inner city residents do make it beyond the basic primary education; I can use
myself as testimony to this.
Harriot holds that another factor is the recent education reforms, students are required to
attend school in their neighborhoods. Now the Ministry of Education under its reform plan of
2001 stated that education is best achieved in an environment that is caring, safe and one of
mutual respect. However where schools are located in or around these inner city communities,
it makes it hard for students to attend when there is a violent upheaval. There have even been
cases where students have been killed or injured by the criminals residing in the area. Harriot
declares that what makes matters worse is that there is little status reward for completing
secondary education at these schools, say at a “Holy Trinity” or a “Donald Quarrie”. Another
problem that arises is that when students’ do graduate from these institutions they find it hard to
get jobs. This however, is not a problem of only the lower class inner city residents but also of
some middle class persons.
“The Haves and Have- nots”
Here we will combine the literature collected on the variables- social inequality and
social mobility. This is because there seem to be more of an inter-relation between the two,
than any of the other variables. The social inequalities which enclose all the above factors of
poverty, unemployment, educational attainment impacts on social mobility of persons in inner
city communities. It is a fact that the inequalities that exist in a society have not only produced
obvious deprivation, but also despair, anger and alienation. These inequalities make it hard for
persons that “have-not” to improve their status and move into the class of the “haves”. Headley
holds that in Jamaica, the disarticulated or one-sided developmentalism has been a condition of
severe inequalities between the country’s haves and have-nots. Additionally, Diane Austin
(1984) traces back the inequalities in education, employment opportunities, and the legal justice
system to disparities in wealth between the upper and lower classes and the middle and lower
classes. Today, Jamaica continues to have a high level of inequality; the SLC (2001) indicates
that the wealthiest 20% of the population accounted for 45.9% of national consumption while
the poorest 20% accounted for only 6.1% of national consumption. On average, the wealthiest
10% of the population consumed approximately 12.5 times the poorest 10%. In dollar terms
this means that the richest 10% of the population had a mean per capita annual consumption
expenditure of J$235,949.00 compared to J$18,721.00 for the poorest 10% of the population.
Lack of social mobility is a very noticeable reality. Derek Gordon (1987) opines that the
stagnation in the Jamaican economy causes a sharp decline in the upward mobility by hitherto
conventional ways. In 1991, a Carl Stone’s publication in the “Daily Gleaner” listed the high
levels of inequality and lack of mobility between the very rich and the very poor, as one of the
five characteristics of a country with a very high crime rate. He maintains that there is a strong
resentment of the conditions of poverty by significant sections of the poor. A similar sentiment
is held by Headley, who goes further to add that this resentment has a way of developing into
acrimony and bitterness, which later influences crime and violence.
In Jamaica it seems that the poor will always be poor and the rich even richer. The only
way to join the ranks of these wealthy fellows, or to “own a house pan the hill and drive a
bimma” is to rob, kill or sell drugs. But be certain that these nouvaau-riches (newly rich people)
will never be given the same respect or prestige afforded to Mr. or Mrs. so and so, who were
born to wealth. That is the reality. So whether the inner city's differences are visible or verbal,
one of the most divisive forces is that of fear, separating and dividing people into their
imagined citadels of safety “gated communities with security systems and watchdogs have
become increasingly the realities of uptown. Jimmy Cliff's soundtrack anthem "Many Rivers to
Cross" sums up the hopeful despair of the city's dispossessed, emphasized by the unwelcoming
dog. Inner cities bring with them all the hurt and rage of Jamaica’s oppressed and unemployed.
They see themselves among the ranks of those excluded from wealth and power in Jamaica.
David Howard (2004) argues that one of the striking features of the city of Kingston is the stark
contrast of those who live uptown, North of Half Way Tree and those who live downtown in
the ghetto. Those who live above and those who live below are the parts of a sharply divided
city. Today, "New Kingston lies worlds, but only miles, away from downtown.
Jamaica is experiencing a social decay which is expressed in the high levels of
corruption1, distrust2,3,4 crime5,6 and sexual harassment7,8 Despite the aforementioned issues and
their contributions to conflicts, little is mentioned of the role played by social exclusion in the
social decay. While much attention is placed on crime and rightfully so because of the lost of
human lives (see Table 1), studies on crime in seeking find solutions to this monster have not
examined social exclusion. The crime pandemics in Jamaica as well as many of the social ills
are owing to the high degree of interpersonal distrust as well as distrust in social institutions 9.
Interpersonal trust is critical to social cohesion that is need for an effective and highly
productive society. Apart of the challenges that are embedded in the many Caribbean societies,
particularly Jamaica, are social exclusion and marginalization, which run account for many of
the social conflicts and distrust. While much has been written and said about male
Waller, L., Bourne, P., Minto, I., & Rapley, J. (2007). A landscape assessment of political corruption in Jamaica.
Kingston: Caribbean Policy Research Institute, [CaPRI), p. 13
Powell L.A., Bourne P., & Waller L. (2007). Probing Jamaica’s Political culture, volume 1: Main trends in the
July-August 2006 Leadership and Governance Survey. Kingston, Jamaica: Centre for Leadership and
Governance, p. 24
Bourne, PA. (2010). Crime, Tourism and Trust in a Developing Country. Current Research Journal of Social
Bourne PA, Francis CG, Kerr-Campbell MD. (2010b). Patient care: Is interpersonal trust missing? North Am J
Med Sci 2: 126
March, C. & Bourne, P.A. (2011). The Influence of Macroeconomic Factors on Murders in Jamaica: Should the
Police Be Cautious in Interpreting the Murder Statistics? Asian Journal of Business Management, 3(4): 257.
Harriott, A. (2004). Introduction. In: Harriott, A., Brathwaite, F. & Wortley, S., eds. (2004). Crime and criminal
justice in the Caribbean. Kingston: Arawak Publication, p. 3.
Peters, R. & Bourne, PA. (2012). Sexual harassment and sexual harassment policy in Jamaica: the absence of a
national sexual harassment policy, and the way forward. Asian J of Business Management, 4(1):1
Peters, R., & Bourne, P.A. (2012). Jamaica is without a national sexual harassment policy: Challenges,
consequences health problems and the need for a national policy framework. Asian J of Business Management,
Bourne, PA., Beckford OW., Duncan, NC. (2010). Generalized Trust in an English-Speaking Caribbean Nation.
Current Research Journal of Social Sciences 2(1): 24
marginalization in the Jamaican society, this is farthest from the reality. Miller 10 postulated that
the male kind is marginalized by examining their low participation, under achievement and
class attendance in schools. There is some argument that the Caribbean male is underperforming academically compared to their female counterparts; but the reality is, female are
seeking equal pay for the same work performed by the males. How can females trust the system
and the literature on male marginalization, when wealth is substantially in the hands of males,
income is skewed towards males and females have and continue to struggle for equal pay for
the same work performed by their male counterparts? There is another side to the Male
Marginalization Theory, but must lacking in the literature is the social exclusion of women in
many professions and occupations, particularly teaching in the early periods.
In contemporary Jamaica, the number of females in professionals like teaching,
construction, law, politics, security and protection have in the last decade, with women now
dominating teaching. Many of the aforementioned professionals were male dominated and
women were excluded there from. This exclusion is a social exclusion as it was determined by
the society, the males in authority. Females were not marginalized from many professional in
the past, they were social excluded and this is less so the case in contemporary Jamaica. For
years, the teaching professional was a male dominated one, which can only be explained by
social exclusion of females. Hence, this study is best explained by Social Exclusion Theory
which is the conceptual framework for this work. There can be no denial that social exclusion
must birth an air of distrust, which explains the conflicts in the society, the lack of cooperation
among people and accounts for the social decay.
Errol Miller, Marginalization of the Black male (Kingston:Canoe Press, 1994), 40
It appears that the patriarchal society in which women reside in Jamaica is so extensive
that even male scholars have opined that male are marginalized 11,12,13 and/or at risk14,15 Those
scholars have missed the societal privileges given to male, the gender inequalities in the society
and the societal expectation of the male compared to female. The gendered wealth and
gendered income distribution in Jamaica do not support male marginalization. In fact, males
have more privilege than females as it relates to wealth accumulation as well as high income
opportunities than females, which contravenes the argument of overall male marginalization16.
In the 2004, statistics 17 revealed that on average the earning for males $2.4 million
which was 2 times more than that of females ($ 1.7 million) and that 76 per cent of senior
positions were held by males although 54 per cent of executive and managerial positions were
held by females. How can one ascribed male marginalization in Jamaica, when they receive
more of the income, wealthier than females and hold of the top position in the society. Both
Miller and Chevannes theorizing on male marginalized is flawed, which evident by the
statistics and arguments forwarded by Christine Borrows. Outside of Jamaica, using survey
Figueroa, Mark. (2004). "Male Privileging and Male "Academic Underperformance" in Jamaica". In Rhonda
Reddock (Ed.), Interrogating Caribbean Masculinities: Theoretical and Empirical Analyses. Kingston, Jamaica:
University of the West Indies Press, p137.
Miller, Errol. (1986). Marginalization of the Black Male. Kingston: Kingston Publishers.
Chevannes, Barry. (2001). Learning to be a man: Culture, socialization and gender identity in five Caribbean
communities. Kingston, Jamaica: The Univer. of the West Indies Press; 2001, p.20
Miller, Errol. (1991). Men at Risk. Kingston. Kingston: Jamaica Publishing House, p.40.
Miller, Errol. 1991. Men at Risk. Kingston. Kingston: Jamaica Publishing House.
Barrow, Christine. (1998). "Caribbean Gender Ideologies: Introduction and Overview". In Christine Barrow
(Ed.), Caribbean Portraits: essays on Gender Ideologies and Identities. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers,
Planning Institute of Jamaica, (PIOJ). Economic and Social Survey, 1990-2007. Kingston: PIOJ; 1990-2007,
data for 1988 to 1999 from Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica, the researchers found that there is
no general trend of economic marginalization of males in those societies 18, which is equally the
case in Jamaica.
There is a view that women have made significant stride in contemporary Jamaica, and
that they now share the same corridor of power like their female counterparts. Jamaica has had
nine prime ministers of which only one is a female and there are more males in politics and the
legislators; yet some argued about male marginalization or equality of power with the genders.
Statistics from the Planning Institute of Jamaica shows that there is a disparity in favour of men
in senior positions and there is also a gender bias in the halls of politics; yet some argue about
male marginalization. Instead, it appears that there is social exclusion of females than male
marginalization in Jamaica.
A society imposes limits on human desires and constitutes a regulative force which
must play the same role for moral needs which the organism plays for physical needs" 19. The
societies that are well regulated have social controls which set limits on individual propensities
so that “each in his sphere vaguely realizes the extreme limits on individual propensities, so
that each in his sphere vaguely realizes the extreme limits set to his ambitions and aspires to
nothing beyond”20. This explains how those with social, economic and political power can
exclude a group or people from any mainstream activities in a society, social exclusion.
Arias, Omar. Are Men Benefiting from the New Economy? Male Economic Marginalization in Argentina,
Brazil, and Costa Rica (December 18, 2001). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2740. Available at
Coser, Lewis A. (1982). Sociological Theory: A Book of Readings 5 th edition. Macmillan Publishing Co., p.
Coser, Lewis A. (1977). Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context 2 nd edition.
Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanvich, Inc., p.51.
Simply put, if people are not given or offered the same opportunities in a society, there is what
is known social exclusion.21
Social exclusion is about more than income poverty. It is a short-hand for what happen
when people or areas face a combination of linked problems, such as unemployment,
discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime and family
breakdown. These problems are linked and mutually reinforcing (SEU, 2004)
The Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) forwards how social exclusions are manifested in a
society and that these can be institutionalized by the socio-economic and political elites.
Poverty, unemployment, educational barriers, racism, income inequality, poor housing, lack of
social amenities and opportunities are all indicators of social exclusions. In those instances,
people are not provides with the same opportunities which was termed by Roemer as Inequality
Opportunities22. Like Roemer, Sugden23 opined that by not provide equality opportunities to
people, they cannot receive the economic rewards of the market which accounts for low socioeconomic opportunities in the future. It can be deduced from Sugden and SEU argument that
social exclusion can be institutionalized and destroys current and future opportunities of
people. Simply put, social exclusion could span many generations and this was highlighted by
Hobcraft24 in an article entitled ‘Social exclusion and the generations’. This speaks to the
mutually reinforcing nature of social exclusion in a society and explains how people can be
made in be trapped in persistent poverty, unemployment, and be made to stay on the outskirts
of mainstream society.
Roemer, J. (1998). Equality of Opportunity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p.90.
Sugden, R. (2004). Living with unfairness: The limits of equal opportunity in a market
economy. Social Choice and Welfare, 22:211
Hobcraft, J. (2002). “Social exclusion and the generations”. pp. 132 in Hills, Le Grand and
According to Silver (1995 in Sen, 2000)
A livelihood; secure, permanent employment; earnings; property, credit, or land;
housing; minimal or prevailing consumption levels; education, skills, and cultural
capital; the welfare state; citizenship and legal equality; democratic participation; public
goods; the nation or the dominant race; family and sociability; humanity, respect,
fulfillment and understanding.25,26
Silver went further than other scholars that have examine social exclusion to include,
citizenship, humanity, respect, fulfillment, understanding, legal equality, political participation,
democracy, and cultural capital. It can be deduced from Silver’s theorizing that social exclusion
is created by the social and political elites over others and by this doing others are sidelined and
marginalized thereby. Indeed social exclusion retards human’s creativity, futuristic
development and potential, and polarized some people. Hence, crime and other social problems
are but an expression of social exclusion and the retaliatory stance taken by the excluded
people. Social exclusion, therefore, creates social division in a society, among people and
institution and fosters deep divide. Prior the 1980s, issues like poverty, inequality, racism,
segregation, unemployment, poor social conditions, minimal consumption, educational
segregation and low skills level, and cultural capital were termed social division. Then in the
mid-1980s social exclusion was coined to address social divisions in society including social
inclusion and cohesion, which have been employed by the European Commission to formulate
social policy27, 28
In the early centuries, one of the social exclusions was education and training for
women. According to Paudyal29 “Discrimination was also based on social relation” and they
Silver (1995), p. 60.
Sen, Amartya. (2000), p. 1
Room, 1992, p.
Rodger, Gore & Figueiredo (1995), p. 34
Paudyal (2012), p. ii
had to “…sacrificed personally and negotiated with husband and family members for academic
upgrading by handling households’ and professional roles together 30, which obtains in Nepal.
There was a clear case of division of labour between the genders, and women were called upon
to sacrifice social relations and other things for a career in education. Stopler 31 opined that the
division of labour epitomizes discrimination and a masculinity of public spaces like education,
politics and state relations, which was also forwarded by Lockheed 32 in a publication entitled
‘Gender and Social Exclusion’. Lockheed opined that over 70 per cent of girls in developing
nations do not attend school, which is a social exclusion compared to other girls in the same
societies. In fact, the girls are poor, and dwell in rural zones. Such a reality restricts their
current and future economic opportunities which are a clear case of discrimination against these
girls, and is rightfully described as social exclusion.33
Another definition of social exclusion is fitting at this point as it aptly summarizes the
concept. According to Peace34 in Northern Ireland,
Social exclusion is a set of processes, including within the labour market and the
welfare system, by which individuals, households, communities or even whole social
groups are pushed towards or kept to the margins of society. It encompasses not only
material deprivation but also more broadly the denial of opportunities to participate
fully in social and civil life.
Social exclusion, therefore, is an orchestrated effort of the social elites to institute
processes that will result in marginalizing a group. Whether we examine Peace’s
conceptualization of social exclusion of others, there is a consensus among the definitions that
it discriminates, marginalizes, segregates, isolates, deprives and retards future opportunities of
the group. By excluding women from education, income opportunities and other wealth in a
Stopler (2004), p. 46
Lockheed, M. (2010), p. 1
Lewis and Lockheed (2007), p. 1
Peace, R. (2001), p. 26
society; this increases the likelihood of its continuation and further marginalized of the
excluded group. Social exclusion is not necessarily based on educational; it may be as a result
of other social issues, political and economic matters.35
There is a preponderance of evidence that income inequality, gender biased
opportunities, poverty, low attendance at school and crime in particularly area as well as social
deprivation and lack of social amentias are a part of the expression of social exclusion. These
social exclusions are the creation of the socio-political elites. To retard, restrict or hamper
people from opportunities including educational attainment based on gender, religious,
ethnicity, and any other socio-demographic characteristics are indicators of social exclusion.
Hence, the restriction of women from the educational system in Jamaica is an example of social
exclusion, and therefore the Social Exclusion Theory best explains what has been transpiring in
the educational system and the wider society in Jamaica since the early nineteenth hundreds.
Table 1: Number of Murders and violent crime, 1970-2010
Violent crime Year
Rodgers et al. 1995)
At the very beginning of this paper we proposed that the high incidence of crime and
violence in Jamaican inner city communities was as a result of poverty, unemployment, low
educational attainment, lack of social mobility and social inequality. The weight of the
argument collected above compels me to end on the same note. The statistical and empirical
evidence provided in the body of this research assures that this conclusion is neither a fib nor is
it a mere assumption. As stated by Bernard Headley (1994) this position should find support
among many a reader willing to take into account not only the long haul of history as a
determinant of human behavior but also the existential reality of social blight which gives
rhythm and reason for the phenomenon of young Jamaican men opting for a life of crime as the
appropriate mode of conduct into manhood.
Over the years many persons have disputed over the causes of the high rate of crime and
violence in the inner city communities. The basic and most widespread opinion amongst the
Jamaican populace is that “d man dem jus nuh ave nuh hart, dem born wicked”. We must admit
that after reading or hearing something like “five shot dead in sleep” or “baby killed as a
warning to father”. However after perusing the many articles, journals, books, statistics and
columns on the causes of crime in Jamaica, we are compelled to conclude that the motivation
towards crime and violence is much more than an innate wickedness. Headley makes important
point- babies do not come into this world with high powered rifles ready to eradicate half of
civilization. Dancehall artist Moses “Beenie Man” Davis provides that it is the circumstances
that make them who they are. It becomes clear that a resort to violence readily presents itself as
one of the strategies of survival open to the dispossessed, powerless, culturally denigrated and
socially excluded. As crude as it may sound- unfortunate is the person or persons that stand
between the gunman and his objective.
To further my conclusion, crime is inevitably high in societies that either withhold or
deny prized possessions from a significant number of their citizens. This is evidently the
situation in the Jamaican society. The fact is that the poverty of the already poor has expanded
during the 40 years since the former Prime Minister Edward Seaga spoke of the gap between
the rich and the poor in his classic have and have- nots dissertation. It is well established that in
countries where there is perverse poverty, high unemployment levels, severe inequalities and
minimal education, there is or will eventually be high levels of crime and violence- Jamaica is
no exception. If this has been a long time correlation, as it obviously is, we are then forced to
ask ourselves “Why has there continued to be so much deprivation and hence more crime in
Jamaican ghettos?” If substandard housing and inadequate facilities has always been a visible
feature of the ghetto, “why had the government or capable institutions not done something to
stem the problem before it started reeking havoc and transforming the society into what it is
today?” Is it because they were comfortable in it being a “ghetto ting”? We must realize that the
acknowledgement is the first part of a solution. Today while the vast majority of crimes still
occur in improvished areas, the violence is not confined. It is not just in Tivoli, Rema, Payne
Land or Jungle that “man a dead”. Tanya Stephens states that even the richest men have to take
a stance when they realize that they are no longer safe in their mansions. The challenge we then
raise to the Jamaican government is to restore hope in the disadvantaged. The task seems futile,
even more in regards to the inner city male youth, because what can you offer them that they
cannot or is not already gaining from their day to day street hustling. Recall hustling includes
selling a little “weed” (marijuana) or “coke” (cocaine), hire for kill and robbery.
On a final note, crime and violence is a very serious problem in Jamaica. We would like
to see this changed. However when there continues to be a limited number of expedient options
for escape from a life of joblessness, poverty and wretchedness, the people who are so affected
must take the most practical (yes practical) route available to them and sadly this route, after
the troubles and trial of migration and clientilism, is crime. To quote the renowned C.L.R.
James “We were not able to choose the mess we have to live in- the collapse of a society- but
we can choose our way out”. Headley’s quotation aptly befits the retardation of social choices
and how these relate to the some of the wider social ills in a society:
Only when all of us who make up the Jamaica society have attempted to restore a sense
of civility to national life, to really look out for each other in a renewed communitarian
spirit, can we hope to have a nation without crime
Crime and Violence - According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2002) crime is an
action against the law. Haralambos and Holborn (2000) view crime as those actions that break
the law of the land and are subjected to official punishment while violence is defined as any
physical force intended to cause injury or destruction to person or property.
Inner cities or Ghettos - The Queen’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus defines a
ghetto as a section of a city in which members of the minority group lives especially because of
social, legal, and economic pressure. The National Task Force on Crime and Violence (1991)
characterizes a typical inner city community as having poor housing, high density per room,
poor sanitation, numerous environmental hazards, regular and illegal connections of Light and
Water. In these cities there tend to be high levels of unemployment.
Poverty – The New International Dictionary of Sociology (2000) portrays poverty as
simply a state of want. However, Haralambos and Holborn see a number of dimensions when
defining poverty. Generally they see it as an undesirable state. However they hold the view that
poverty is not only material deprivation but sees inadequate educational opportunities,
powerlessness and unemployment as aspects of being poor for some people.
Unemployment- the Queen’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus postulates that
unemployment is simply not having a job. Researches published in Haralambos and Holborn’s,
Sociology Themes and Perspectives states that unemployment is indeed not having a job that
would provide the money necessary to purchase the thing essential ensure one’s survival.
Educational Attainment - Haralambos and Holborn views educational attainment as a
level of accomplishment of knowledge and learning of skill. The Queens English Dictionary
defines it as the process of accomplishing some level of learning and training.
Social mobility – The National Task Force on Crime and Violence defines social
mobility as a movement from one stratum to another.
Social Inequalities – The Dictionary of Sociology defines social inequality as state of
being unequal in the respect that some members of a society may not have the same social
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