SOCIETYso·ci·e·ty the sum of social relationships among groups of humans or animals a structured community of people bound together by similar traditions, institutions, or nationality the customs of a community and the way it is organized, e.g. its class structure
A society is a group of individuals knit together through a common set of values such as morals, beliefs, etc. Key characteristics would be individuals who have the same: 1. beliefs 2. ideas 3. values 4. history 5. life experiences 6. social environment
CULTUREcul·ture arts collectively: art, music, literature, and related intellectual activities, considered collectively knowledge and sophistication: enlightenment and sophistication acquired through education and exposure to the arts shared beliefs and values of group: the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behavior of a particular nation or people
CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES OF CARIBBEAN SOCIETY With the exception of Trinidad, where East Indians and Africans are nearly equal in number, the Caribbean states have predominantly African- derived populations. Race, ethnicity, class, and color, however, do not constitute the mutually reinforcing cleavages found elsewhere. No regional political or social organization is based exclusively on race, class, or color
Overt forms of segregation and discrimination do not exist, and crude political appeals to race and color have not been successful. Nevertheless, color consciousness permeates the societies, and various forms of more subtle social discrimination against non-Christians and East Indians, for example, have persisted. Despite the common official language, common institutions, and common historical experience, each island and state has a distinct set of characteristics.
For example, the local inflection of the English spoken in Jamaica varies significantly from that spoken in Barbados or Trinidad. Literacy rates also vary greatly from between 75 and 80 percent in Jamaica and St. Lucia to almost universal literacy in Trinidad, Barbados, and the Bahamas.
In a region where a constant racial and cultural mixing over centuries have resulted in extreme heterogeneity, any ethnic ideal clashes with the observed reality of everyday life. Nevertheless, ideals exist, often based on European models, and are at variance with the expressed rhetoric of the political majority, which tries to emphasize the African cultural heritage. At all levels of Caribbean societies, tensions exist between centrifugal state policies and ideals on the one hand and individual beliefs, family, and kin on the other.
These tensions are exacerbated by the fragile political structures and even more delicate economic foundations on which a viable, cohesive nationalism must be forged among the Commonwealth Caribbean peoples. The most urgent challenges for the new political leaders lie in satisfying the constantly rising expectations amid the reality of constantly shrinking resources. Perhaps as a result of its heterogeneity, the area is extremely dynamic culturally, producing a veritable explosion of local talent after World War II.
Poets and novelists of international renown include Samuel Selvon, V.S. Naipaul, and Earl Lovelace from Trinidad; Derek Walcott from St. Lucia; George Lamming from Barbados; and Mervyn Morris, Vic Reid, John Hearne, Andrew Salkey, and Roger Mais from Jamaica. In painting and sculpture, the late Edna Manley was universally recognized. Commonwealth Caribbean music in the form of the calypso, reggae, ska, and steelband orchestra have captivated listeners around the world.
Like the people themselves, art forms in the Caribbean demonstrate an eclectic variety harmoniously combining elements of European, African, Asian, and indigenous American traditions.
Characteristics of our Culture Although not largely written about, Caribbean culture has arguably been preserved more by the authentic voices of "intuitive scholars": artists, farmers, merchants, and traders --educationally deprived, perhaps, but quite learned in the cultural heritage of the island nations. They are the regions best oral historians and cultural preservationists.
Characteristics of our Culture The Caribbean lifestyle is undoubtedly a product of its tropical setting. The music, architecture, attitudes and customs have all, in some way, been shaped by the physical landscape and climate. The cultures of the Caribbean countries are a blend of colonial mainstays and pervasive influences by major ethnic groups of the region such as East Indians and Africans.
Barbados vs. Jamaica Barbados, a former British colony, retains enough British traditions to be called "Little England." Antigua, while offering a more laid-back attitude, still observes old British customs. On the other hand, Jamaica retains few of the colonial customs, relies heavily on pre-colonial heritage and is passionately self-sufficient. Jamaica also boasts a successful democracy and maintains a peaceful existence in the Caribbean. Its residents run the scope from dull English aristocrats to vibrant Rastafarians.
Languages Creole languages are approx 200 years old. They came about during the first slavery era in the Caribbean. Creole is a "patois" language that is a varied combination of African syntax and European lexicon, or words. It evolved out of necessity, as slaves had to communicate with the European plantation owners. Derivations include French Creole, with regional dialects in Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Dominica and French Guyana; English and African blend; and Patwa in Jamaica.
Languages Because the Creole language was associated with the poor labor class, parents would often forbid their children to speak it. In recent times, however, more people are appreciating and recognizing the historical importance of the language, its linguistic appeal, and its significant place in local culture.
African Heritage Old African culture and customs influence much of the religious worship, artistic expression, rhythmic dancing, singing and even ways of thinking in the Caribbean. Spiritual practices such as Junkanoo in the Bahamas, Voodun in Haiti, and Rastafari in Jamaica are African-influenced movements that have Caribbean origin but a worldwide following.
African Heritage Reggae music and jerk cooking are also Africa-inspired gifts to the world from the Caribbean. In the Eastern Caribbean Soca Tradition, for example, the limbo dance ritual has its roots on the slave ships that came to the colonies on the horrific "Middle Passage."