We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

See Pricing

What's Your Topic?

Hire a Professional Writer Now

The input space is limited by 250 symbols

What's Your Deadline?

Choose 3 Hours or More.
Back
2/4 steps

How Many Pages?

Back
3/4 steps

Sign Up and See Pricing

"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Back
Get Offer

How Would You Characterise the Contemporary Caribbean, Taking Into Consideration the Issues of Inequality, Multi-Culturalism and Poverty

Hire a Professional Writer Now

The input space is limited by 250 symbols

Deadline:2 days left
"You must agree to out terms of services and privacy policy"
Write my paper

Question: How would you characterise the contemporary Caribbean, taking into consideration the issues of inequality, multi-culturalism and poverty. Often enough the Caribbean is portrayed as the untouched paradise, with its’ crystallised waters, hidden getaways and lavish landscapes with enriched flora and fauna. However, the image projected is not without a tumultuous past. It is a past based on colonialism, slavery, indentureship, assimilation, the mixing and diffusion or borrowing of many cultures which have characterised the region as one that is in flux.

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
How Would You Characterise the Contemporary Caribbean, Taking Into Consideration the Issues of Inequality, Multi-Culturalism and Poverty
Just from $13,9/Page
Get custom paper

One may even stake the claim that the constructs of contemporary Caribbean is largely or significantly as a result of nearly five centuries of European policies. These policies legitimized the imperial’s power and control that enforced domination and exploitation that have given rise in many ways to the perceived Caribbean structure from a socio-cultural and economic level. As a result there have been theoretical attempts written in the 1970s that have highlighted or sought to explain the repercussions such as inequality, the advent of multiculturalism and poverty that seem to add to the characteristics of contemporary Caribbean.

Many view the mention characteristics are as a result of a lingering concept referred to as “Plantation Legacy. ”1 This can best be explained as a case in which plantation-esque institutions still prevails and is manifested in the socio-cultural, economic and political structure of the Caribbean. In comparison with the plantation society, every aspect of the socio-culture was dictated by the plantation owners that created distinction of inequality in the Caribbean.

In that every levels of the social hierarchy were separated from one another and the characteristics of inequalities such as race, class, skin colour, status, sex, gender and economic power determined a person’s social position in the hierarchy. In the contemporary Caribbean, academics contend that the upper class continues to be the whites who are the decedents of the old plantation society. Lloyd Brathwaite (1953)2 noted that the social structure of Trinidad in the 1950’s was based on a positive view of the whites and a egative view of the blacks in society. He identified that the dominant value system of Trinidad was organized along ethnic and colour lines which according to him exhibited features that he termed as the plural society. This was based on ethnicity and class divisions, separatedness among and between the ethnic groups and the ranking of the groups in terms of superiority and inferiority, where the inferior group would only be elevated by adopting the values of the whites.

The inferiority complex, can be evaluated by Errol Miller (1969)3, through his study of Body Image, Physical Beauty and Colour among Jamaican Adolescents, where he noted that the perceptions of Jamaican school girls when asked their view of beauty and self-worth. The majority held the view that beautiful girls were those with long hair, straight nose and fair skin, whilst the handsome boy would also have the phenotype of straight hair, straight nose and fair skin. Within contemporary times this view is widely posited by media houses and a number of beauty competitions. Beckford, G. 1972. Demographic Charateristics of the Plantation Economics. In Persistent Poverty: Underdevelopmnet in Plantation Economies of the Third World. N. Y. Oxford, pp. 56-83 2Brathwaite, L. 1953. “Social Stratification in Trinidad,” Introduction to Sociology Course Material The University of the West Indies, pg198. 3Miller, E. 1969. “Body Image, Physical Beauty and Colour among Jamaican Adolescents” Caribbean Sociology, Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001

Selwyn Ryan (1991)4 have acknowledged that though there is still a lingering caste like system that Brathwaite noted, it however have largely disappeared and is replaced by a system of meritocracy based on the emergence of new educated elites who displaced the white upper class that held positions based on ascriptions in the areas of politics, business, civil servants and educational systems. In contemporary time the availability and access to education have altered the stratification patterns of the past by creating the means of social mobility for those classed in the lower strata.

However Rhoda Reddock (1991) who acknowledged the impact of education on social mobility, have also highlighted the inequalities that exist among the two sexes in the Caribbean with regards to mobility in that “mobility for one may not mean mobility for the other. ”5 Writers such as Ishmael Baksh6 and Leo-Rhynie, have sought to examine the discrepancies in areas of the Caribbean curriculum and policies of nationalistic development and the reality of educational processes in the Caribbean.

Baksh asserted that upward mobility through education and indications of an expanding middle class only perpetuate a myth of equal opportunity in the Caribbean school systems. Instead the system is one of restrictions that reproduce the status quo and the factors external to the school system such as the influence of parents in determining the child’s access to certain schools, subject courses, educational expectations and achievements, contribute to social class inequalities.

Leo-Rhynie noted that an educational policy that was intended to create equal opportunities for students at the primary level across Jamaica affected the enrolment of boys and girls at the secondary level. In the interest of dealing with the poor performance of boys and their inability to gain entry into secondary schooling the policy had an adverse effect of discrimination against girls.

Gender roles are constructed in social life and though women have managed to overcome struggles in a male dominated society in areas of politics as in Trinidad and Jamaica where the Prime Ministers are women; at their homes or family life as in the case of Indian women who in the past were inhibited in a patriarchal family structure are now able to improve their life chances in both the private and public sectors. However despite these inroads, women’s subordinate positions in society continue to be ideologically and institutionally reinforced.

As Derek Gordon (1987),7 indicated that women’s improvement compared to men, have had no real change in the societal structure as men continue to dominate top positions across classes. It’s noted that women’s employment continue to be in lower status professions like teaching, nursing and clerical positions, whilst men dominate higher and lower managerial positions. 4Ryan, S. 1991. Social Stratification in Trinidad and Tobago: Lloyed Brathwaite revisited. In Social and Occupational Stratification in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago. pp58-79. 5Reddock, R.

Social Mobility in Trinidad and Tobago. In Social and Occupational Stratification in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, pp210-233 6Baksh, I. nd. “Education and equality of Opportunity in Trinidad and Tobago. ” Caribbean Sociology, Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers 7Gordon, D. 1987. “Women and class: Method and Substance. ” Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pp214-222 The work ethic and decision making process is based on a male paradigm.

The subordination of women continue to be sanctioned both overtly and covertly in the educational systems, religious institutions and government policies as officially reflected in Montserrat8 where older values are still inseparable from institutions and individual male-female role relations. It is perhaps through multiculturalism that much of the inequalities that continue to exist in contemporary Caribbean could be addressed. Granted that the mixed nationalities and cultures can lead to friction, it can also add to the depth, charm and dimension of Caribbean identity.

In the past this identity was founded in an insidious racism however given our contemporary period, I believe that through the inexhaustible list of cultures as characterised by multiculturalism that cultural relativism can exist given its’ definition. Multiculturalism9 “is the view of cultural diversity in a country as something good and desirable; a multicultural society socializes individuals not only into the dominant (national) culture but also into an ethnic culture. ” The advent of multiculturalism have taken M. G.

Smith’s Plural Society Thesis a bit further than the heterogeneous outlook that describe Caribbean societies as plural where basic institutions such as the family, religion and education are not shared by the groups in society. Multiculturalism have sought to replace the perceived cultural assimilation or the “melting pot”10 model, where ethnic groups give up their own cultural traditions as they blend into a common national stew. The Caribbean no longer a melting pot can be better described as “ethnic salads” where each ethnicity though distinct, co-exists.

This coexistence is expressed through cultural art forms, infusion through music, dance, food, sports such as cricket, Carnival, etc. Edward Brathwaite (1971)11 alluded that there is a simultaneous process of internal adjustment taking place between cultures interacting in society. He noted that there is a more reciprocal relationship that is enriched by an intermixture of culture. This process could be considered in contemporary times as unbridled, unplanned, unconscious and osmotic relationships as opposed to the yoking of cultures through acculturation.

One can perceive that the outcome of multiculturalism is interculturation, which through changing attitudes has seen the growth of intermarriages. This is supported by the writings of Rhoda Reddock and McCree (1992)12 – Douglarization and the Politics of Gender Relations in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago. There study noted that 47. 1% of the sample studied had relations of another ethnic group. Patricia Mohammed13 have also noted that due to modernization and creolization there have been an interlocking of new values that are shared and formed between and among various groups in the Caribbean. Moses, Y. “Female Status, the Family and the Males Dominance in the West Indian Community” Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pg427 9Kottak, C. Cultural Anthropology. Eleventh Edition. Multiculturalism, pp95-98 10Kottak, C. Cultural Anthropology. Eleventh Edition. Multiculturalism, pp95-98 11Brathwaite, E. K. 1971. Creolization. Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001.

Ian Randle Publishers pp 108–117 12Reddock, R and McCree. 1992. Douglarization and the Politics of Gender Relations in Trinidad and Tobago. Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pp 320-334 13Mohammed, P. nd. The Creolization of Indian Women in Trinidad. Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers. pp 403-414

As much as the Caribbean region is recognised for its multiculturalism and synthesis of diversity, it is also noted for its incomparable natural resources and economic fortitude that either promotes the island nations development or perpetuate its underdevelopment. The level of poverty and standard of living vary from one country to another in that some islands have a higher standard of living than others while others are extremely poor, as with the comparison with Barbados whose citizens enjoy a better quality of life and life chances than the people of Haiti.

Though the islands share similar historical backgrounds there is a notable disparity among the islands which draw our attention as to why such differences exists. The reasons range from the availability of natural resources, who command and control the resources, the management of the economy, internal political factors as well as the influence of a country’s relationship with other countries. Current poverty level in the Caribbean is believed to have developed from the “Plantation Legacy”1 which is manifested today in the dominance of Multi-national Corporations (MNC).

The exploitation of cheap labour sources, the stripping of the region’s natural resources thereby leading to underdevelopment and the dependence on externally produced goods and services have left the Caribbean in a state of social, economic and political instability and turmoil. The Legacy is also linked to the marginalisation of the Afro Caribbean man in particular in low income families where the household is increasingly martrifocal which possibly fuels a culture of poverty as posited by Oscar Lewis (1959;1966)14.

He argued that the practice of martrifocality is transmitted from one generation to the next as a result of socio-economic factors such as unemployment; males tend to desert their homes because of their inability to effectively carry out the breadwinner role. Poverty in Caribbean is also often linked to migration for according to Dr. Godfrey St. Bernard,15 migration is often considered a safety valve to poverty for Caribbean societies. It is borne out of the need for poor individuals to sustain viable livelihood for capital. Adding to this St.

Bernard have also indicated that due to poverty and inadequate means to sustain livelihood, the economically active household member migrates with hopes of improving individual and family’s well being. Some have argued that Globalisation is also a factor that promotes poverty for island nations that result in dependency and underdevelopment in the Caribbean region. Immanuel Wallerstein16 have indicated that the exploitative relationship of the rich developed countries have created a series of dependency for the poorer nations based on trade and economic well being.

Often enough the wealth or profits from trade is not evenly distributed or trickle down to favour the poorer countries. As a result the less developed countries are unable to improve there social structures which adds to the social problems of the Caribbean regions such as issues of crime, poor health care, a burden on the national treasury, an increased welfare state as well as environmental risks. 4Lewis, O. 1959,1966. Socioeconomic Factors and the Culture of Poverty In Introduction to Sociology. The University of the West Indies, 2005, pp276-277. 15St. Bernard, G. 2003. Major Trends Affecting Families in Central America and the Caribbean.

A Background 16Wallerstein, I. nd . World System Theory. In Sociology for Caribbean Students Development and Social Change. Nasser Mustapha. 2006: Ian Randle Publishers, pp. 203-204. The contemporary Caribbean is shaped by its historical background and may continue to be shaped by it. Its complexity and characteristics can not be explained in isolation and its history can not be ignored if there is to be an understanding of it in the current time and space. The islands have evolved and developed in its own right not at the same speed or level but nevertheless have sought to create its identity.

As Lloyd Best17 posited “we were introduced to each other in various insular and continental spaces and to a variety of European languages that in re-crafting and re-creating ourselves we have managed to encompass something distinct yet common among us: that thing we call Caribbean. ” 17Best, Lloyd. 2001. Race, Class and Ethnicity: A Caribbean Interpretation. The Third Annual Jagan Lecture presented at York University REFERENCES – Baksh, I. nd. “Education and equality of Opportunity in Trinidad and Tobago. ” Caribbean Sociology, Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers – Beckford, G. 1972.

Demographic Characteristics of the Plantation Economics. In Persistent Poverty: Underdevelopmnet in Plantation Economies of the Third World. N. Y. Oxford, pp. 56-83 – Best, Lloyd. 2001. Race, Class and Ethnicity: A Caribbean Interpretation. The Third Annual Jagan Lecture presented at York University – Brathwaite, E. K. 1971. Creolization. Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pp 108–117 – Brathwaite, L. 1953. “Social Stratification in Trinidad,” Introduction to Sociology Course Material The University of the West Indies, pg198. – Gordon, D. 1987. Women and class: Method and Substance. ” Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pp214-222 – Kottak, C. Cultural Anthropology. Eleventh Edition. Multiculturalism, pp95-98 – Lewis, O. 1959,1966. Socioeconomic Factors and the Culture of Poverty In Introduction to Sociology. The University of the West Indies, 2005, pp276-277. – Miller, E. 1969. “Body Image, Physical Beauty and Colour among Jamaican Adolescents” Caribbean Sociology, Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001 – Mohammed, P. nd. The Creolization of Indian Women in Trinidad.

Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers. pp 403-414 – Moses, Y. “Female Status, the Family and the Males Dominance in the West Indian Community” Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pg427 – Reddock, R. Social Mobility in Trinidad and Tobago. In Social and Occupational Stratification in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, pp210-233 – Reddock, R and McCree. 1992. Douglarization and the Politics of Gender Relations in Trinidad and Tobago.

Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings. Edited by Christine Barrow and Rhoda Reddock, 2001. Ian Randle Publishers pp 320-334 – Ryan, S. 1991. Social Stratification in Trinidad and Tobago: Lloyd Brathwaite revisited. In Social and Occupational Stratification in Contemporary Trinidad and Tobago. pp58-79. – St. Bernard, G. 2003. Major Trends Affecting Families in Central America and the Caribbean. A Background – Wallerstein, I. nd . World System Theory. In Sociology for Caribbean Students Development and Social Change. Nasser Mustapha. 2006: Ian Randle Publishers, pp. 203-204.

Cite this How Would You Characterise the Contemporary Caribbean, Taking Into Consideration the Issues of Inequality, Multi-Culturalism and Poverty

How Would You Characterise the Contemporary Caribbean, Taking Into Consideration the Issues of Inequality, Multi-Culturalism and Poverty. (2016, Sep 16). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/how-would-you-characterise-the-contemporary-caribbean-taking-into-consideration-the-issues-of-inequality-multi-culturalism-and-poverty/

Show less
  • Use multiple resourses when assembling your essay
  • Get help form professional writers when not sure you can do it yourself
  • Use Plagiarism Checker to double check your essay
  • Do not copy and paste free to download essays
Get plagiarism free essay

Search for essay samples now

Haven't found the Essay You Want?

Get my paper now

For Only $13.90/page