ALEX ELLISPRESONA MCLEANPHILLIP BIGGSDAVINA SMITH
The Caribbean remains aplantation only in terms of itsdemographic character and not interms of its economic, politicaland social make up. Discuss inlight of Beckford’s PlantationSociety model.
CaribbeanPlantationDemographyEconomicsPoliticsSocial make up
A geographic area in which thepeople of the region have a sharedhistorical experience, and in thecontext of a shared historicexperience we see a linkage withthe whole chain of islands and someof the mainland territoriesthemselves
The plantation is a total economicinstitution. It binds everyone in itsembrace to the one task of executingthe will of the owner or owners. Andbecause it is omnipotent andomnipresent in the lives of thoseliving within its confines, it is also atotal institution. (Beckford, 1972)
The study of population. It providesinformation on population size, itscomposition, and changes that occuras a result of death, migration andsocial mobility.
A science which studies humanbehaviour as a relationship betweenends and scarce means which havealternative uses. (Robbins, 1935)
A social institution that depends on aset of procedures that are recognizedfor implementing and achieving thegoals of the society.
This is how persons of a society or aregion are socialized whether it isgood or bad, and how they arestratified in society.
The structure of races in the Caribbean remains the same now as the days of slavery and indentureship:Throughout the West Indies, white people are a very small percentage, while black people make up the bulk of the population.
The ownership of property remains in the hands of the few elite (predominantly White) The economic system transcends the local level to the international level as multinational corporations continue to settle in the Caribbean. Note that majority of the profits are returned to the metropole. Caribbean territories remain dependent on the export of agricultural products, including the plantation crops of sugar and banana. Metropolitan economies are the primary targets for export.
Political power remains in the hands the few white elites. The black leaders that are forefront in the society are elected and maintained by the white minority.As in all societies, the distribution of real political power is identical to the pattern of economic and social powerThe ruling ideologies therefore remain the ideologies of the white (behind a black face).
In Jamaica we still uses the Westminster system of government as the system of government. In order for a government to have real political power it has to have enough capital to finance elections, therefore he/she needs financial backing
Caribbean society comprises different racial and cultural groupings brought together for economic purposes. The plantation influence can be traced almost directly in every important aspect of social life. The stratificationsystem of white at top, brown in middle and black at bottom infuse into the occupational ranking in today’s societies.
Education is now a vehicle for mobility increasing the numbers in the intermediary brown group. Notwithstanding this persons still adhere to the view of the supremacy of the white culture. Social mobility becomes synonymous with adopting a white European way of life.
The growth of the capitalist class includes a wider grouping of light-skinned ethnic minorities offering competition to the white elites. The increase in inequality in levels of living between the most affluent and most impoverished classes as the economy diversified and the modern sector expanded due mainly to foreign investment.
The development of party politics as a middle-class power base, increased upward mobility between the lower and middle levels of the stratification system.
The growth of counter ideological social belief systems emphasizing black consciousness, racial pride and African identities among the more militant and alienated within the poorer classes.
Smith identifies that: The cultural sections in the Caribbean are Whites, Browns, Blacks, with East Indians and Chinese, in other territories. Plural societies as being stratified by classes, but there may be internal classification among various groups. Homogeneous societies are those with one set of institutions whilst those with alternative institutions are heterogeneous. Societies where the basic institutions (family, school, and religion) are not shared are plural societies
Creolisation is a “way of seeing the society, not in terms of white and black, master and slave, in separate nuclear units, but as contributory parts of a whole”. Brathwaite criticizes „plantation-thesis‟ of George Beckford and company: he is explicit that it is wrong to see Jamaica solely as a “„slave‟ society “or an “enormous sugar factory”. Brathwaite also distant himself from the pluralist model of Caribbean society by M. G. Smith and his own notion of creolisation. The former is “based on an apprehension of cultural polarity, on an „either/or‟ principle, on the idea of people sharing common divisions instead of increasingly common values”. (Brathwaite, 1971)
Fundamentally, the Caribbean does not only remains as a plantation in terms of demographic character but also in terms of economics, politics and social make up to a lesser extent. Although George Beckford saw today’s society as a replica of plantation society, however his work was done in 1972 therefore it would not give a good reflection of the Caribbean today. However, Carl Stone works gave a much more clearer reflection on today’s society where he highlighted that there is upward social mobility causing a the Caribbean to change slightly in terms of political, economic and social but remains in terms of demography.