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Society, Culture and the Individual

1 – 21


Geography, Society and Culture

22 – 51


History, Society and Culture

52 – 87


Cultural Diversity in Caribbean Society
and Culture

88 – 116


Impact of Societal Institutions on
Caribbean People

117 – 146


Caribbean – Global Interaction

147 – 170


Concepts and Indicators of Development

171 – 187


Contribution of Sports to Development
in the Caribbean

188 – 195


Regional Integration and Development

196 – 207


Factors Promoting or Hindering

208 –222


Intellectual Traditions

223 – 247


The Mass Media

248 – 255


Social Justice

256 – 262


Investigating Issues in the Caribbean

263 – 303

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), has developed Self-Study Guides for a number of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects.

The main purpose of the Guides is to provide both in-school and out-of-school candidates with resource materials which should help them in preparing for CXC examinations. Each Study Guide is student centered and its language is student friendly.

The Caribbean Studies course is designed for persons over the age of sixteen who which to further their studies.

The course is equally useful to persons who are pursuing part-time study and those enrolled fulltime in an educational institution. You may have completed five years of secondary education, or you may be a mature student with work experience. The course is based on the assumption that you are already able to do the following:

1.interpret accurately, material intended for the informed lay-person;

2. express personal opinions and factual information clearly, demonstrating
logical sequencing and appropriate English registers up to the level of the CSEC General Proficiency or its equivalent.

Course Aims
This course aims to:

develop an understanding of the factors which influence the evolution of Caribbean society and culture;
develop an awareness of how current global trends affect, and are affected by, the Caribbean region;
analyse issues which are important to the development of the Caribbean region; encourage reflection on how factors which have shaped the Caribbean region have influenced the lives of the people of the Caribbean;

develop a respect for other cultures and for their contribution to the region‟s development; develop an appreciation of the importance of dealing justly and equitably with other groups and individuals;

develop the capability to investigate and report on issues which promote a better understanding of the Caribbean region;
develop the capacity to acquire skill and abilities in making decisions and responding to challenges in their personal lives.

Course Structure
The course consists of fourteen Study Guides, which are all based on the CAPE Caribbean Studies Syllabus. Each Study Guide addresses the skills and content of a specific Module of the Syllabus. The Module on which the Study
Guide is based is always indicated at the beginning of the Study Guide. However, the sequence of the Study Guides does not mirror that of the syllabus Modules since the syllabus Modules are not bound by a rigid sequence. The sequence of topics in this course is designed to facilitate study by leading you through topics in a way which will enable you to build on previously learnt skills.

What Resources Will You Need?
Remember that these Study Guides will not be all that you need to complete the Syllabus and prepare for your examination. You are expected to make use of the resources listed at the end of the course book as well as engage in other wide, general reading, which will improve your general knowledge, vocabulary and structural competence.

You will also need basic study equipment, for example, paper, pens, pencils, and highlighters for marking important parts of the text. A good dictionary and a thesaurus are also essential to this programme.

Managing Your Time
Remember to put aside special time each day for general reading in addition to your study time.

Study Guide Structure
Each Study Guide is divided into eight sections to facilitate your study, as indicated below: (i)


This places what you are about to study in the context of your everyday life and relates it to what you have done in previous Study Guides.



This lists the topics that are to be covered in the Study Guides.



These help you to identify the specific skills that you should have acquired by the end of the Study Guide. You should read these carefully to acquaint yourself with what you are meant to be learning during the Study Guide.



Instructions are provided at the start of each activity. Read all instructions carefully before you attempt the activity. Some activities require you to think about something before you read any further. You should take the necessary time to do so. The thinking activity is designed to help you focus your thoughts in the directions which will facilitate your ability to complete the activities that follow.



Each activity has a feedback section that allows you to determine how well you have done in the activity. If you have not completed the activity successfully, you should re-read the preceding examples or information carefully.



These are meant to guide you to an understanding of the concept being taught.
All examples should be read carefully before you attempt any activities that follow.


End Test

This comes at the end of each Study Guide and is designed to ensure that you have acquired those skills identified in the objectives. There is a feedback section following the End Test which allows you to measure the accuracy of your answers to the test so that you will know whether or not you have acquired the competencies. If there are questions in the End Test that you have not answered satisfactorily, ensure that you return to the relevant section of the Study Guide and review those areas until you are satisfied that you have understood the concept.


Key Points

These summarize important concepts that you need to remember and pay special attention to as you work through the course.

Course assignments are included in order to allow you to check your progress through the course. The assignments enable you to determine your areas of weakness and to check your understanding of the concepts.

You must ensure that you have access to the version of the syllabus that outlines the structure of the examination for the year in which you intend to write it.

Many Caribbean people may not know much about society and culture in Caribbean territories other than their own. Some may think that society and culture are very similar in all Caribbean countries. Some of us may also think that some aspects of our society and culture are unique and that no other Caribbean territory is quite like ours.

This study guide should help you get an understanding of Caribbean society and culture. You will learn about the ways of life that we share and how we differ from people in other Caribbean countries. This study guide should also help you become aware of the part that you play in shaping society and culture.

At the end of this study guide, you should:

understand the factors which have shaped Caribbean society and culture; and


appreciate how cultural traits evident throughout the region have resulted from Caribbean people‟s experiences.

You should be able to:

explain the terms, „society‟ and „culture‟; describe some of the common and diverse features of Caribbean society and culture; use sociological concepts such as values, norms, latent and manifest functions to explain behaviour; analyse some of the factors shaping Caribbean society and culture; apply a knowledge of sociological concepts to your own choices, roles, values and behaviours; and describe the effects of cultural erasure, retention and renewal on Caribbean life.

The Concept, „Society‟
The Concept, „Culture‟
Society and Culture – where do they overlap?
Values, Norms and Behaviours
What Lies Behind Values?
How Do People Learn Values?
Latent and Manifest Functions


The largest unit or group to which you belong is called „society‟. It is a term taken largely for granted. However, there are different understandings of the term, especially when we compare those of laypersons and those of sociologists. While the views of laypersons may not be necessarily wrong, the way the sociologist understands „society‟ gives us further insights into how society „works‟. (Activity 1.1)

(My Understanding of Society)
In this exercise you will be exploring your own use of the term, „society‟. Write three sentences using the word „society‟ in a different sense each time.

Here are some different ways in which the term „society‟ is used – compare these with your sentences.

Any group of people living in a country makes up its society. „High‟ society describes the lives of the rich and famous. The society in which we live tolerates the drinking of alcohol but not the smoking of marijuana.

The activity above highlights some ideas about society listed below. Society is a collection of people living in the same geographical area over time. This is a typical understanding of the term.

Society is also used to describe the lifestyles of the wealthy. This shows that „society‟ is a term with a specialized meaning having to do with the rich and powerful and the kinds of lifestyles they enjoy. This is also a common understanding of the term „society‟. We speak of individuals mingling in „high society‟.

Society is a guide to behaviour. While the two understandings above are common to the layperson, the notion that society acts as a „moral police‟ of our behaviours is the view of the sociologist. The layperson is also aware of this when he or she says „…society will not allow that‟. By focusing on what the sociologist means by this statement we will come to a better understanding about how society „works‟.

To the sociologist who is involved in the systematic study of society, the important aspect in defining the term is its group structure. Society is possibly the largest group to which an individual belongs but he or she is also a member of different groups that comprise relationships within the overall unit, society.

So, a Jamaican belongs to a society that is usually limited by the natural borders of the island. Within that large group he or she may belong to a specific socio-economic group, religious affiliation, racial group, ethnic group, geographic area such as the parish of Portland, be an alumunus of Titchfield High School, has an extended family network, a group of close friends, and work associates.


(Activity 1.2)

(Myself and Society)

This activity should strengthen your awareness of how deeply you are tied to the society in which you live. It may cause you to reflect on individual characteristics. Identify as many groups as possible to which you belong.

We all belong to large groups that are defined by our gender, socio-economic status, racial or ethnic heritage, religious affiliation and nationality. In addition, we belong to smaller groups such as our family, our circle of friends and our school or work mates. And, we also belong to clubs, associations and other organizations. What we notice from this is that we do not lead a single, solitary life but almost all of our living takes place as we participate in groups. This is why the sociologist focuses on the „group‟ nature of social life.

Sociologists describe society as having a framework which is not visible but provides a frame of reference for understanding that groups are necessary for our existence and that society influences how we behave.

Social institutions are the largest possible groups in society. They are not tangible. Examples of social institutions are – the economy, education, politics, religion, and family. Sociologists regard them as a group of cherished ideas and beliefs that we have as a society and about how we want our lives organized. The family is a social institution, in that we believe the family unit is the best and most functional way to socialize new members of the society. And, we have a set of cherished ideas and beliefs about how the social institution of the family should work.

Social organizations are tangible. They are the groups that are formed in a society because of the cherished ideas and beliefs we hold about different aspects of social life. They are the groups or organizations we form to reflect the ideas and beliefs of our social institutions. Thus, the extended family type (organization) is common in the Caribbean because we do not believe that growing up and even getting married necessarily means leaving home. We also have strong beliefs that cause us to invite relatives to stay with us for long periods if it will facilitate them going to school or to work.

These cherished beliefs and ideas are part of the social institution of the family in the Caribbean and give rise to specific types of family organization or arrangements (social organization). Social institutions and social organizations represent the framework of society. If we understand the way our cherished beliefs are grouped in terms of social institutions then we will make sense of the kinds of organizations that we have and which we take largely for granted. The ideas that people in the society share about what is a good education or even what is a good school come out of our history. We have inherited a set of beliefs and philosophies about education which have become cherished traditions, for example, importance is placed on classical and traditional disciplines – mathematics, sciences, arts, and literature; nowadays business and computer technologies are similarly valued; schooling should be rigorous and should aim at high standards; education and religion go hand in hand to inculcate discipline and acceptable morals in the young.

The ideas and beliefs about education which we have inherited have shaped the social institution, Caribbean education, and related organizations and arrangements such as the curriculum, examination practices, and types of schools.


At the beginning of this section, it was suggested that groups are necessary for our existence and that through these groups, society influence our behaviour. Now we understand that the ideas and beliefs we cherish are not ours alone but are those typical or dominant in the society. Those ideas were inherited and today form our traditions and belong to the institutional framework of society. From them tangible groups, social organizations, are derived.

We belong to all these groups, even if we are unaware of our membership. Our behaviours are influenced by the preferences and values important in our institutions. Thus, drinking alcohol has been a widespread social practice associated with leisure and relaxation and has been accepted historically, unlike, for example, the smoking of marijuana.

(Activity 1.3)
(Does society influence my behaviour?)
To what extent am I a unique individual? Am I influenced by society‟s values? These questions are important for any person trying to understand how society „works‟. (a) List the reasons why you are doing a post-secondary course of studies. (b) Put a tick next to the reasons you believe are solely influenced by your personality and not those which may have to do with society‟s values and expectations.

The reasons that may have influenced your choice of study may have been that you – o

do not want to go out and work at this time


want to combine work and continued pursuit of studies


want to qualify to enter university


are unsure about what you want to do

Most of these reasons are related to society‟s expectations about how the young should seek to qualify themselves to earn the rewards of the society. We go through a rite of passage called schooling, and then we go out to work, probably get married and have children. These are expectations that society has for us. If we stray, for example, if we do not look for a job, or do not want to get married, we feel the censure from those conforming to society‟s expectations. Whenever we want to truly exert our personality on decision-making, we often find ourselves opposing some of the choices society expects of us. The last reason above describes someone who is unsure and conforms by being in school. Summary

Society is a collection of persons living in the same geographical area over a long period of time. Sociologists understand society to have a group structure of social institutions and social organizations.

Social institutions (such as education and religion) are the ideas and beliefs that society has about how we want aspects of our lives organised.


Social organizations are the tangible arrangements made to translate those ideas and beliefs into practice, for example, schools, curricula, churches, dogma, ritual. The ideas and beliefs of our social institutions constrain our behaviour, for example, we are rewarded if we conform and we may be punished in various ways if we come up with different forms of organization or arrangements.

Having studied „society‟, we now turn to a familiar and related concept, „culture‟. Culture, too, means different things to different persons. For example, the layperson‟s everyday understandings are quite different from those of the sociologist.

(Activity 1.4)
(The different senses of culture)
Sometimes „culture‟ and „society‟ are used as if they mean the same thing. While at times that is acceptable, we must be able to distinguish between them as well. Reflect on ONE way in which you use the term, „culture‟ . Describe one everyday sense of the term culture.

The layperson, when using the term, is often referring to aspects of popular culture: painting




You may have described this sense of culture, or you may have chosen the meaning described below. Both are correct as everyday understandings of „culture‟. You may also use culture to define and characterize aspects of lifestyle that may be peculiar to a particular society.

However, the sociologist‟s understanding of culture is wider ranging. The concept, culture, is conveniently divided into material culture and non-material culture. The quote below defines culture in the language of the sociologist.

“Culture is the accumulated store of symbols, ideas, and material products associated with a social system, whether it be an entire society or a family”. (Johnson, 1995, p.68). Everyday uses of the term, for example, the artistic expressions of a people and their lifestyle seem to be included in the quote. However, the meaning that sociologists attribute to „culture‟, and which may not be evident from the quote, is the understanding that symbols and ideas influence behaviour. The diagram overleaf helps to clarify this.



Material Culture

Non-Material Culture

artefacts, artistic creations
culinary skills, processes
architecture, technologies
family rearing practices


(Activity 1.5)
(The culture of my society)
In doing this activity you may be reflecting on aspects of your cultural life – aspects that you may have often taken for granted.
1. Choose TWO types of material culture giving specific examples from your own country. (For example, in Barbados an example of an artistic creation is the celebration known as “Kadooment”).
2. Using beliefs as an example of non-material culture, show how a specific belief in your country gives rise to material forms of culture.

The following is a guide for your answer, which may differ in the specific content. 1.

(i) culinary skills and products of Caribbean countries include crab and callaloo (Trinidad & Tobago), ackee and saltfish (Jamaica), fish cakes (Barbados); and, (ii) family rearing practices can include examples of gender socialization where boys are given different chores to do around the home (cleaning the yard) from girls (cooking).


strong beliefs in kinship bonds and the importance of the family, particularly the elderly make it very difficult for Caribbean people to put their aged and infirm relatives in a „home‟. Consequently, family organization tends to be of the extended kind in many Caribbean territories. “Homes” for the aged are, therefore, less common in the Caribbean than in metropolitan societies.

We have seen that society and culture have separate meanings. However, in
common everyday use the terms are often used as synonyms because they are linked very closely. In the Caribbean Studies syllabus you will see both terms frequently expressed together, as for example: “Describe TWO ways in which volcanoes affect Caribbean society and culture”.


While the syllabus requires you to know the differences in meaning between the two terms, it expects that when they are written like that, you will treat them as linked closely together. Thus, you would not need to give two ways in which volcanoes affect society and then two ways in which volcanoes affect culture.

But what exactly is the relation between the two? Where is the overlap? The activity below may help you find answers to these questions.
(Activity 1.6)
(The relationship between society and culture)
There is only one area of overlap between the terms „society‟ and „culture‟. What is it? You may need to re-read the sections on society and on culture in order to identify the area of overlap.

Your review of the relevant sections should help you to conclude that sociologists understand society to have structure. The largest units or groups within society were called social institutions. Yet these were intangibles: ideas, beliefs, and values. From these, tangible organizations were created. So, too, we should be aware that the material products of a society are derived from the dominant underlying values and beliefs of that society. Thus, the overlap between the two terms occurs at the level of the importance of values. A society and its culture are rooted in the same values. At this point we should clarify our understanding of the term „values’. Our values represent how strongly we feel about certain qualities and how we rank the importance of these qualities. In most societies, values are cultural values, meaning that they are collectively held by people in that society.

For instance, there are dominant ideas in a society about what should count as physical beauty. The members of that society come to value these attributes, that is, they rank them highly (and, consequently devalue others). Having these values will, thus, influence how we behave, whom we admire and what qualities we look for in a mate.

Now you should be able to identify some of the values influencing behaviour in your society and culture. The following activity should help you think about this more deeply. (Activity 1.7)
(Cultural Values and Behaviour)
Our behaviours are supposed to reflect the values we hold. This exercise will encourage you to think about the extent to which your values are shared by other persons. Identify TWO values typical of the groups to which you belong. Describe how those values affect behaviour.

Compare this answer with yours and get a sense of how you are thinking about these issues.  In one of the groups to which a person belongs, appreciation of the past is an important value. One of the behaviours it elicits is becoming involved in activities to preserve the architecture of a by-gone era.

 Another value common among a person‟s family, friends, and work associates is patriotism. In its extreme form, patriotism may border on insularity and may contribute to persons devaluing the integration movement and CARICOM.


Feedback (cont’d)
Other values you may have mentioned are:
the importance of celebrations in Caribbean life; hospitality; kinship bonds and family ties; foreign products and ways of life; honesty; fidelity; truthfulness; loyalty. Summary

The overlap in meaning between society and culture occurs in the realm of values and beliefs. It is difficult to separate the concept of society from the values and beliefs in which culture is embedded. To keep the concepts separate some may emphasize that society is a collection of persons inhabiting an area continuously and who feel certain bonds of belongingness. Yet, such bonds between people must necessarily spring from having a set of shared beliefs and values (culture).

The sociologist‟s understanding of society involves values and beliefs. Social institutions, the major structures of society, are made up of the cherished values and beliefs of a people.

This section dealt with society and culture, how they differ and where they overlap. It may be helpful to think of society as a group of people occupying a certain defined geographic space continuously who feel a sense of belongingness because they have developed a common culture. Culture here refers to underlying values and beliefs. It can also be described as “… the way of life of a people”. In the Caribbean Studies syllabus, the term „society and culture‟ is preferred to show how closely the concepts are related.

Society and culture are group phenomena, both produced by groups of people. Both concepts can be understood best by studying the behaviours of people in those groups. Underlying those behaviours may be a set of intangibles – ideas, beliefs, or values. In this section, we will focus on how invisible qualities such as values can give rise to equally invisible norms which in turn are realized through the behaviours of people in groups. The group nature of social life is important for this process to take place, that is, from having a value to acting in accordance with that value. We are also putting a focus on the Caribbean.

We want to relate the characteristic behaviours of Caribbean people to underlying values and norms. Although we may have our insular and territorial understandings of society and culture, we also note that the region has a Caribbean-wide society and culture. This becomes apparent especially when we leave the region and observe the lives of Caribbean people in cities such as London, Toronto and New York. Caribbean persons there congregate and interact with each other with relative ease because they share a set of common values. Norms spring from the values that are cherished in society and culture. Values represent a ranking of certain qualities which we feel strongly about. Thus, if society regards highly the use of internationally accepted English as spoken language, then it will devalue other forms of language.

The norm which will then arise in that society, with regard to language, will be the expectation that persons will prefer internationally accepted English. To support this expectation, rewards and punishments (sanctions) are deemed necessary. Rewards will include acceptance, praise, and possibly paths to advancement. Persons who habitually use dialects or patois will then find themselves disadvantaged, excluded, and open to criticism and ridicule. Punishments are, therefore, associated with actions which go against norms. The behaviours of people demonstrate whether or not they have accepted values and norms. However, we see clearly that the dominant values and norms of the group influence behaviour.


An example of how values influence behaviour is shown below: BEHAVIOURS
Values and norms ranking hospitality highly give rise to the following:  cooking more than is needed “just in case”;
 having relatives come to stay for extended periods, to be closer to school or work.

Expected behaviours that are associated with sanctions – rewards or punishments. Thus, being hospitable as a rule ensures that you are well thought of in your circle of friends and family. The norm is the expectation that you will be hospitable.

Hospitality is held in great esteem all over the Caribbean. We can say that it is a value held by Caribbean people. It is ranked highly as a disposition or quality people in society should possess. You must realize that not everyone shares all of the values of the society and individuals, therefore, may not conform to society‟s norms. Such persons are usually prepared to endure or undergo any slight or punishment that others mete out. The following activity will help you to check your understanding of values, norms and behaviours.

(Activity 1.8)

(Making Choices)

Understanding values, norms and behaviours shows us how deeply connected we are to the society and culture of which we are a part. Our decision-making processes must take into account dominant ideas and beliefs of the social world.

You are given a list of 3 decisions that people usually have to make. Identify in each case the norms that they will usually take into consideration in making those decisions. 1. choosing a secondary school for a child.

2. what to wear to a function
3. preparing for a job interview

Parents usually consider the reputation of the school in terms of successful graduates, or the school‟s academic record. The norm or expectation is that society and, therefore, parents have good ideas about which schools are considered successful and which are not. Other norms that you might have chosen may be related to religious or denominational schools for Feedback

their reputation for good discipline or because of their religious programme. o parents usually consider the reputation of the school in terms of successful graduates, in o What to wear to a function is based on an understanding of the type of occasion and, other words its track record. The norm or expectation is that society and therefore parents therefore, what would be appropriate dress for that occasion. Appropriateness in this context have a good idea of which schools are considered successful and which are not, and will usually means dressing in a very similar fashion to others attending the function. The norm choose among the former. If they chose a low demand school, they will be hard pressed in here is the


explaining why. Other norms that you might have chosen may be related to religion or denominational schools which usually have a reputation for good discipline or because of their religious programme.


Feedback cont’d

expectation that you would not look outlandish or improperly dressed but that you would maintain order in society by conforming to dress codes.

Preparing for an interview usually entails making decisions of what would be considered appropriate wear and what would be intelligent answers to questions that would be put to you. The norm here is the expectation that you make yourself look respectable and that you give a good account of yourself in fielding questions.

While you would not have given these specific examples, the above explanations should act as a guide in helping you decide how well you have understood norms and behaviours. Activity 1.8 gave us some understanding that many of the personal and individual decisions we make in our lives are
not very „personal‟ or „individual‟ at all. Many of us choose behaviours from a range of options that conform to what society or our social groups will allow us to do. While conforming behaviours help to maintain order and cohesion in society, they also sometimes help to perpetuate undesirable or inequitable practices.

Some values and norms may be changed if our behaviours become less conformist. For example, if we give women who seek political office our support; vote differently from the traditions of our family or ethnic groups; voice positive arguments for the integration movement;

choose to spend vacation in Caribbean destinations;
buy clothing designed by Caribbean fashion houses;
become more aware of how, as individuals, we also have a responsibility to take care of the environment; and attend PTA meetings and actively ask about child-centred learning, experiential learning and programmes for enhancing multiple intelligences.
All values and norms are not in the best interests of everyone. (Activity 1.9)

(Characteristic Caribbean Behaviours)

Generalizing about behaviour may give rise to stereotypes and inaccuracies. However, reflecting on one‟s society and trying to make connections with underlying assumptions and values can help you continue to develop critical thinking skills.


Describe ONE behaviour that you think tends to characterize Caribbean people. Identify a value associated with this behaviour.
Explain the influence of norms on this behaviour.

You may have chosen behaviours springing from some of the following values, for example:  making fun of others,
 camaraderie,
 celebrations,
 insularity,
 religion,
 preference for white, western culture,
 kinship bonds/family ties and,


Feedback (cont’d)


If we use the valuing of white Western culture as an example, we can show how peer group approval may be instrumental in some individuals continuing to show a preference for North American designer clothing and music, as well as the shared understanding that other places could not be as interesting to visit as metropolitan countries.

Activity 1.9 gives us some insight into what may lie behind our behaviour. Our norms are those in which we have been socialized. Norms, or rules for living, are associated with rewards and punishments. These norms are shaped by the values that the society holds dear. But, how do values come about? They probably spring from the common experiences shared by a group. Caribbean people share a common history and geography and these factors are undoubtedly important in fostering some of the values that have come to shape society and culture in the Caribbean.

How has geography shaped some of the values important in the society and culture of the Caribbean? Its archipelagic nature – islands strung out in a chain as the Greater and Lesser Antilles. This has helped to foster some degree of insularity and a sense of separateness. Mainland territories – the inclusion of Guyana, Suriname, Cayenne and Belize, in the Caribbean Region, adds even greater variety among Caribbean peoples. Problems of definition – the label, „Caribbean‟, is also applied to some countries without a Caribbean coastline; such as Guyana, Suriname, Cayenne, and the Bahamas. Mountainous terrain – the inhospitable interior (for example, the Windwards) has encouraged an outward-looking culture, developing strong ties with people of the coasts in nearby islands through inter-marriage and commerce, helping to foster kinship across national boundaries.

Human activity – agriculture, settlement patterns, fishing – springs out of a common physical environment with similar natural resources. What are some values associated with these activities? Perhaps, independence could be one attributed to peasant farmers. Similarly, we can now turn to the historical experience in the Caribbean and try to isolate some of the factors that have impacted on Caribbean people in such a way as to influence values. (Activity 1.10)

(Historical Influences on Values in the Caribbean)
Remember that we are trying to trace the roots of our behaviour, by scrutinizing our historical record in an attempt to isolate values that continue to influence us today. Give brief explanatory notes on THREE historical factors that you believe have shaped values reflected in Caribbean society and culture today.


We have had a relatively short recorded history in the Caribbean so it is fairly easy to isolate some of the main events and processes that have shaped our values. For example, – slavery, an experience of both the indigenous inhabitants and Africans who were forcibly brought to the Caribbean. One value that is thought to have come out of this experience is an emphasis on resistance, for example, much of Caribbean music, in different ways, reflects themes that deal with liberation.

– colonialism, an extended period of European rule, experienced throughout the Caribbean. A value that is attributed to colonial rule is a preference for foreign products, ways of governing, technology, clothes and lifestyles, as these are generally believed to be superior to their local counterparts. – indentureship, the importation of East Indians and Chinese in large numbers mainly into Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname, as labourers. Many of the descendants of these labourers continue to value their oriental origins, customs, language and religions.

You should note that several values can stem from any one of the above factors. Other historical factors you could have mentioned are –
 independence,
 chronic economic depression,
 the development of plural societies,
 globalization.
Each of the above is associated with values which help to shape norms and influence behaviours. When you reflect on the historical and geographical factors and how they shape values, norms and consequently, behaviours, you will begin to appreciate the choices and decisions that Caribbean people make on a daily basis.

Up to now we have learned that our behaviours tend to be largely influenced by the rewards and sanctions associated with norms. Norms are fashioned from the underlying values that a culture holds as important, while our values are shaped a great deal by the historical and geographical framework within which our society and culture developed. An example of how history shapes our values is seen in the fact that was fairly widespread in the Caribbean for fair skin colour to be held in high regard.

This value has spawned norms and associated rewards contingent upon having fair skin, such as expecting to be always included, to be popular and to be given preferential treatment. A history of slavery, indentureship and colonialism, where being white was privileged, lies at the root of this value. You may be thinking that your choices and reactions do not conform precisely to what you have been reading. While there may be general patterns of behaviour, some of them do not reflect your understanding of your role in Caribbean society and culture. This brings us to how people actually learn values.

We know that amidst the general patterns of behaviours and values displayed by Caribbean people, there is wide variation in responses. This means that even with the same values and norms in operation, some people are capable of behaviours quite different from others. Activity 1.11 helps you to explore your own choices and reactions.


(Activity 1.11)
(Choices and Values)
To what extent are your choices similar to those of your social groups? If you feel that you are different, how did this difference come about? Did you learn values differently from how your friends learnt them? This activity helps you to reflect on how people learn values. 

Think of any value that is dominant in your society and culture, for example, a liking for the products and artifacts of white, western culture.
Do you accept this value? Justify your position.

While you would have chosen to reflect on any value that seems important to you, the following discussion should generally help you to assess your own specific response. Let us consider the value associated with preference for an academic type of education as one that promises white-collar occupations and perhaps a high-status lifestyle. We may reflect on our acceptance of this value and whether we feel that we are able to meet all the requirements related to this value. We may accept this value and not be able to achieve the required qualifications so that whatever course of studies and work we subsequently get involved in would always seem somewhat inferior.

If we accept such values and are able to achieve them, one possible consequence is that we may assess choices others make that are different, for example, technical-vocational education as inferior. On the other hand we may be able, through exposure to persons who are profitably employed in manual and technical occupations, to critically appraise the prevailing values associated with preference for white-collar jobs. Choosing such a technical or vocational course of studies may find you continually being called upon to justify your choice to persons who are steeped in the dominant values of society. The important question here is, how do people growing up in the same society come to embrace values that are not dominant?

We are now going to look at some sociological concepts that will help us to understand better how individuals learn the values of their society and culture and how they are able at times to adopt different or contesting values.

Socialization is the process through which we learn the values, norms and behaviours that are acceptable in our society and culture. We „learn‟ through various means – sometimes things are „caught‟, sometimes taught – formally, informally, by imitation, or reflection. Socialization begins in the home, where through primary socialization we learn language, relationships and concepts, and about ourselves in relation to others. When we begin schooling, secondary socialization starts and goes on all our lives. We are being socialized every day.

Active Socialization
Variations in attitudes, dispositions, and convictions produce a range of behaviours, and come about because individuals do not passively adopt values and norms, and the circumstances of their socialization are varied. Socialization is an active process where an individual brings his or her own dispositions and attitudes to bear on decision making – sometimes deliberately, sometimes unconsciously.


Learning a set of values through socialization – from home, the media, school, peer group, and the church, does not necessarily mean that these values will remain intact throughout one‟s life. Persons can re-socialize
themselves and learn other values. This is an example of active socialization. Education plays a major role in helping individuals to discern values that influence their behaviours. Having gone through a particular course of study, individuals may be better able to understand why, for example, they used to think differently of persons of another race (racism), religion (creedism),

gender (sexism),
generation (ageism).
Often people are not aware of their values. Courses of study where discussion is paramount (or participating in groups, formal and informal, where different points of view are freely expressed), help the individual to discern his or her value positions. If one is never challenged about one‟s values, and never has to justify them, chances are the most fundamental things about one‟s life will go unexamined. Many people say that they are not prejudiced against the disabled. Yet, the very buildings we occupy pose problems for the physically challenged, who may argue that this reflects expectation that they would not be independent or socially active. They say that the value position we hold about them is really that they should be set apart from the rest of society.

Beliefs and Values
It must be noted that a similar set of beliefs in a society may give rise to different values. There may be a fundamental belief about God in the society. However, there may be marked variations in how people value their relationship with God and choose to express it. Some may choose a personal, informal mode whilst others may prefer communal worship complete with rituals. Hierarchy of Values

Another variation apparent in society and culture is the different ways in which individuals rank values. Patriotism, for example, may be very highly valued, but for some individuals or groups other values may be ranked higher. For example:

Uppermost in other people‟s hierarchy of values will be the development of an overall national consciousness where patriotism becomes more important than small group affiliation. Others value the personal highly.

Directly opposite to such a value position, will be a Gandhi, a Mandela, or a Martin Luther King, where what is good for mankind takes precedence.
Interestingly, many of us tend to shuffle around our value positions. With the advent of the September 11th 2001 terrorist disaster, many felt a sense of outrage and a global concern for mankind, yet the bombing of Afghanistan did not seem to be at odds with such a value or principle.

Values, then, are the most important building blocks for our decisions and our behaviours. We have seen that norms of behaviour spring from values. In exploring where values come from, we noted that the common geographical and historical experience of Caribbean people helped to shape beliefs and values. We also saw that there may be much variation in both values and behaviours.


We go on now to an examination of certain acts and behaviours to show that surface and hidden consequences can result. What is acknowledged as surface or manifest and what is deemed hidden or latent, often highlight which value positions groups or individuals want to reveal or conceal.

To assist you in reflecting on behaviour, norms, values and beliefs, we can use two conceptual tools of the sociologist. They are latent functions and manifest functions. They arise because, as the sociologist says, every social situation or social act can have more than one consequence. In this section, you will use these conceptual tools to analyse behaviour and values. Latent functions refer to the unintended, hidden or unexpected consequences of an act.

Manifest functions, on the other hand, refer to the anticipated, open or stated goals of an act. Latent meanings or consequences provide explanations at a deeper level of analysis. In observing social situations, you will be able to go below the level of cultural acts to the hidden meanings that may give clues about the cultural values upon which the acts are based. For example,

a manifest function of streaming ability levels in schools is an organizational one where teaching and learning is thought to be facilitated by having homogeneous groups; a latent function of this practice is that students in lower ability streams become labelled as „not bright‟ and feel loss of self-esteem.

The following activity will help you to reflect on actions in your society and culture, among your friends and relatives and at your school or work place. These actions may have hidden or unanticipated consequences.

(Activity 1.12)

(Analysing Cultural Acts)

Becoming proficient with the tools of latent and manifest functions can help you to deepen your understanding of society and culture.
Briefly describe a scenario in Caribbean life where it is possible to identify latent and manifest functions.

You may have chosen any type of interaction in social life. However, the discussion around the scenario below will help you to gauge how effectively you understood the two concepts. o

People often tend to make statements that place the nuclear family unit in a privileged position in our Caribbean society and culture. However, we have an array of family forms  visiting,  single parent,

 extended,
 sibling.


Feedback (cont’d)

People say that the nuclear family unit
 helps to foster close-knit relationships and bonds between members,  encourages the development of self-sufficiency and interdependence, and  both parents present provide male and female role models for children.

These are the manifest functions of the nuclear family.

Sociologists point out, however, that the latent functions associated with the nuclear family are:  that it becomes isolated from kinship bonds and networks which could offer support in times of stress or on a daily basis in a routine way. Without this support, the nuclear family becomes prone to role overload (usually for the mother) causing stress, frustration and even violence;

 that what goes on in the family can remain very private and less open to public scrutiny. Thus some forms of abuse may not be readily disclosed and may continue for a long time, since it is easy to be hidden from public scrutiny.

Early in this Study Guide, we saw that culture was a dynamic entity based on beliefs and values. We also saw that values could give rise to different behaviours because they could be re-targeted and not held in the same way by all. In this section, we will be examining how culture changes. We will see that cultural change is dependent on deep-seated processes such as change in values. Since no society and culture today stand separate and apart from others, it is reasonable to assume that much of the cultural change we experience stems from interaction with other cultures.

The erasure of cultural practices is often a gradual process and usually stems from an on-going conflict between traditional ways of accomplishing tasks in the society and newer methods. The latter may be more efficient and cost-effective and may save time and energy. The adoption of appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and microwaves, has contributed to the loss of cultural practices.

For example, refrigerators allowed people to buy perishable goods in larger quantities. Therefore, they did not have to go to the shop or parlour close by on a daily basis. Their daily contact with people in the neighbourhood dwindled and small retail outlets have closed down, to be replaced by large, centrally situated supermarkets. You should be able to see manifest and latent functions in this example of cultural erasure.

Cultural retention results from a deliberate desire to keep traditions alive so that some groups would be able to preserve their sense of identity. Small groups especially, within larger communities, tend to feel alienated. You may be able to think of distinct social groups in your country where retention of cultural practices is emphasized because it is thought that the very existence of the group depends on these practices.

(Activity 1.13)
(Examining Cultural Renewal)
This activity helps you to continue to reflect on society and culture and to examine your role in shaping culture.
Having read about cultural erasure and cultural retention, describe your understanding of the term, „cultural renewal‟. Give ONE example which illustrates this understanding. 16


Cultural renewal refers to efforts to salvage parts of our past by fashioning new practices based on the old. Such efforts stem from a feeling that there is much value in what we have neglected.


Also, in incorporating new values and norms into our society and culture we find that traditional practices are re-cast and appear in different forms.


In many Caribbean countries traditional food preparations which are time-consuming and labour intensive are now speeded up and made easier to produce for the tourist market and working persons using modern techniques such as refrigeration and food processing.


Traditional music has been made more acceptable to contemporary audiences through use of modern sound systems and compact discs.

In the above examples, we see that change in the underlying values of a society over time influences changes in the material culture. Hence, valuing a modern way of life on the western model has opened our society to the wide range of consumer products that go hand in hand with an urbanized, industrialized culture, where emphasis is put on individualism and a strong work ethic. The adoption of these practices and techniques effectively changes the culture – some Caribbean practices may be erased, some retained and some renewed in this process.


The following is a summary of some of the key points and major concepts that were discussed in this study guide.

A society is a group which occupies a specific land area for a long time, building up a common culture.

A culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, norms and behaviours of a society which define its roles and way of life.

The meanings of society and culture overlap where values are concerned. Values (inherent in culture) are represented in society by the structure and interrelationships between the different groups in society – social institutions and social organizations.

Values are the bedrock from which our behaviours spring – both collectively as a society and individually as members. Values represent the ranking or preference given to certain qualities, attitudes and dispositions.

Norms spring from the values we hold. Norms are standards of behaviour that are reinforced through sanctions – rewards and punishments.


Values differ in different societies and cultures. They arise from the common experiences of a people. We saw that the common geographical environment and historical experience helped to fashion the values important today in Caribbean society and culture.

Socialization is the major process through which the values of one‟s culture and society are learned. However, socialization is an active process giving
rise to an array of responses. Hence, we find that norms and behaviours are not rigid and static.

Values themselves also give rise to variations in social behaviour. The fact that they are held in a hierarchy signifies that groups may hold a certain value differently to others. The fact that we seem to be able to hold conflicting values simultaneously gives us, on an individual and personal level, much food for thought.

The latent and manifest functions of an act help to explain social behaviour meaningfully to show that there may be hidden values operating in our actions.

Culture is a dynamic entity shaped by the underlying values we hold. The degree to which we shift our values over time may be reflected in cultural erasure, retention and/or renewal.


In this study guide, the major concepts related to a basic understanding of the Caribbean, namely, society and culture, were explored. In subsequent study guides you will learn about more specific concepts to extend your knowledge and understanding of Caribbean society and culture. Although the Caribbean is a diverse region, geographically and geologically, the common historical experience has influenced the formation of a culture of common values, norms and behaviours. We have seen that although there may be broad patterns of similarity in behaviour at the macro level, when it comes to individuals and the choices they make, there is much variation. This fact acknowledges the agency or free will at the core of individual behaviour.

Conforming or opting for different values reflects the will of the individual, even if that individual is unaware of the power he or she has in social change.

Much of the above discussion should alert us to the possibilities inherent in our roles, and the behaviours we display. Once we become aware of our own values, we are more likely to make informed decisions about whether we want to continue to hold such value positions or to change them. Therein may lie the future prospects of society and culture in the Caribbean. It is through interrogating ourselves about our positions in relation to some of the important issues in Caribbean life that we can change as individuals and influence change in our societies.

New norms can result in different, positive behaviours. As we have seen above, improvement in social life – in attitudes, dispositions, behaviours – can come about through a deliberate re-targeting of values. It is up to us as Caribbean people to decide on which of our values are hindering the road that we would like to travel.



Distance Education Centre. (1997), Introduction to Sociology – Social Sciences Study Guide. UWI: DEC, Barbados.
Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (1995), Sociology – themes and perspectives. London: Collins Educational.
Johnson, A. G. (1995), The Blackwell dictionary of sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Mohammed, J. (ed.), (2001), Readings in Caribbean Studies. Kingston, Jamaica: CXC. Palacio, J. (1995), Aboriginal peoples – their struggle with cultural identity in the Caricom Region. Bulletin of Eastern Caribbean Affairs, 20(4), pp. 25-40.


Summarize the sociologists‟ understanding of the term „society‟.


List FOUR concepts related to the term, „culture‟.


Briefly examine the relationship between „society‟ and „culture‟.



Identify THREE examples of behaviours that you think tend to characterize Caribbean people.
Explain how these behaviours are tied to certain values that are important in Caribbean society and culture.


List FIVE factors that have been part of the experience of Caribbean people which may explain the values, roles and patterns of behaviour in Caribbean society and culture today.


Identify ONE value that you hold which tends to be characteristic of Caribbean society and culture. Describe how you came to learn this value.


Describe ONE example that illustrates the difference between latent and manifest functions in social life.


Describe ONE example of cultural retention in Caribbean society and culture.




Sociologists understand society in terms of its group structure. The basic and largest group, social institutions, consists of intangible entities such as beliefs and values, on which all other groups, for example, social organizations, are patterned.


Four concepts of the term „culture‟ are –
– as forms of popular culture
– as the ways of life of a people
– as non-material culture
– as material culture (includes popular culture)


Society and culture are related with respect to values. A society is thought of as a specific group occupying an area for a long time with shared customs and those shared customs add up to the culture of the society (and are based on values).



Examples of characteristic Caribbean behaviours:
being friendly, especially to strangers and also caring and nurturing friends and family exhibiting national pride over regional identification
having many relatives and friends living abroad and entertaining thoughts of going oneself giving „nicknames‟, satirizing some aspect of a person‟s appearance or exploits emphasis on race and colour in social relations


The values:
shows a valuing of hospitality
a „migration‟ ethic
informality/humour (being able to laugh at oneself)
valuing what race and colour say about social status


Factors that form common Caribbean experiences:
– the near complete genocide of our aboriginal peoples
– slavery, indentureship and the plantation system
– cultural diversity, social stratification and hybridization of our people – colonial rule and the legacy of a pervasive „colonial mentality‟ – continuous resistance realized in efforts to establish emancipation, enfranchisement and independence

– a fragmented existence as an archipelago and isolated mainland states – dependent economies and efforts to diversify


Any value you identify you must have learned initially through the process of socialization. Reflecting on this value, however, will tell you if you passively adopted it and never thought about examining it. If you ever had to make conscious decisions related to this value you would have been engaging in the process of active socialization. If, for example, you decided to consciously seek new learning, such as training for a job, or to ignore old habits and cronies and adopt other habits, you would be re-socializing yourself and re-orienting your values.



Any example you choose should have certain characteristics as shown in the example below: Education is normally thought of and promoted as helping individuals to acquire skills and competencies, in particular critical thinking skills. Many of those who experience schooling, however, may hold a different view. They say that practices such as streaming, abuse from teachers, unfair rules, and stress associated with examinations, lead to a hidden curriculum which values docility, obedience and conformity. There is, thus, the manifest or public stated goal of an act and a hidden or latent aspect of it.


Examples of cultural retention could be due to keeping traditions alive because there are no effective modern substitutes for patterns of basket weaving and hammock designs, the making of pirogues, Carnival traditions and artifacts.

Write an essay of not more than 1,000 words on the following topic. „Cultural erasure, retention and renewal are processes found in all societies as they evolve.‟ Discuss the ways in which each of these processes has helped to shape Caribbean society. (30 marks)


The award of marks is based on the following
Content: Explication of concepts:
10 marks
Analysis of concepts:
10 marks
10 marks

You are required to assess the present status of Caribbean society as far as you can perceive and come to some conclusion about the significance of erasure, retention or renewal in our experience.

A discussion about culture is necessary to show its susceptibility to change and the possibility of erasure, retention and renewal – examples should be provided from your territory as well as from the wider Caribbean.

Analysis and interpretation should be well developed and relevant to the issue under examination. Conclusions drawn should be justified, logical and insightful.


Cite this Study guide for caribbean studies

Study guide for caribbean studies. (2016, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/study-guide-for-caribbean-studies/

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