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Critically discuss the three main models of Caribbean Society

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Critically discuss the three main models of Caribbean Society. By Name: Dahlia Grosvenor FD13A: Law, Governance, Economy and Society Tutor: Mrs. W. Jones Date: March 22, 2004 Each society is a product of the particular historical forces that shape it and give it form. Therefore, it is essential that in studying any society, in order to grasp a firm understanding of it, it becomes necessary to first study its origins. Throughout the vast literature about the Caribbean, three pervasive theories emerge in an attempt to explain the formation of contemporary Caribbean society. These theories or models have been titled as the Plantation society theory, the Plural society theory and the Creole society theory. The Plantation society theory is an attempt to explain Caribbean social structure in relation to the plantation experience. The plantation experience existed in the Caribbean for over three hundred years, along with which came the institution of slavery. Until the abolitionist movement came about in the 19th century, the Caribbean society was a slave society. Its base was the production of sugar cane, which needed heavy capital investments and cheap labour. This labour constituted at first of white servant labour, the poor whites, and felons of the society, etc.

Middle

The distribution of political power is identical to the pattern of social and economic power. Beckford (1972) notes, although slavery has been abolished for over four generations, the basic structure in the New World remains very much the same. The plantation society theory then, gives a moderate understanding of contemporary Caribbean society, explaining in part how the society progressed socially, economically and politically and why it progressed in the way that it has. However, present day Caribbean society is moving away from the plantation slowly but surely and as a result the plantation society theory proves to be inadequate and according to Craig (1982) 'too simple and reductionist'. In an attempt to further explain the Caribbean society, the plural society theory, as applied to the Caribbean by M.G. Smith, maintains that these societies are made up of different cultural sections which all try to maintain their own values and institutions, only interacting in the marketplace for economic transactions. The plural society has come into existence because of the common economic factor. Each section shared the desire for economic advancement. Pluralism can be found in the plantation society whereby labour was extracted from different regions in Africa and also East India with their different cultures, language, social structure, political conditions and even religions and brought together for the purpose of working on the plantation.

Conclusion

This can be seen in the establishment of the Barbados Landship, the various festivals such as carnival and cropover, the development of calypso, reggae and pan, the Creole languages and dialects of the Caribbean. Creolization however is sometimes seen as a loss of ethnic indigenous cultures and the adoption of inferior ones. The basic facts about Creole societies are that they were rooted in the political and economic dominance of the metropolitan power. It was colour stratified and gave moral and cultural superiority to anything European. However, the social system which grew up in the West Indian territories after emancipation was not European but Creole. Creole society was much more differentiated economically than the plantation society. The working class population was not drawn into the wage and consumer markets. A new class of merchants and shopkeepers constituted an important element in the society. The Windward and the Leeward Islands are an example of Creole society. The three main models of society account for different aspects of the contemporary Caribbean society and therefore give a more complete account of the Caribbean when integrated. However, as individual theories and as attempts to explain present day Caribbean society, they can be seem as limited, inadequate and rigid for an ever changing society, though the Creole society theory maintains the best model at recognising such change.

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