Plural Society

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Plural Society
Plural Society
Many of the societies which have problems of multicultural governance are former multi-ethnic colonies. A theory of such colonial and post-colonial societies draws particularly on the work of J.S.Furnivall and M.G.Smith. According to Furnivall different ethnic groups in a plural society meet only in the market place. This market place however lacks the characteristics which Durkheim envisaged in his concept of organic solidarity. It lacks the shared values which organic solidarity requires and involves brutal conflict and exploitation. The sense of solidarity on which morality depends is to be found within the different ethnic groups when they go home from the market place. Within these groups there is intense solidarity and moral unity. Furnivall worked in Burma but wrote about Java drawing on the work of the Dutch economic theorist, Boeke. Boeke writes that in the economy of Netherlands India “there is a materialism, rationalism and individualism and a concentration on economic ends far more complete and absolute than in homogeneous Western lands” As he sees it this is a capitalism quite different from that which grew slowly over hundreds of years and maintained its moral roots. M.G..Smith wrote originally about Grenada but his theory of the plural society has been widely used in the analysis of colonial and post-colonial societies in the Caribbean. Smith is aware of the general sociological theory of Talcott Parsons and its assumption of four mutually supportive institutions. In the Caribbean, however he argues that there are several co-existing ethnic groups each of which has a nearly complete set of social institutions. Setting his argument within the context of a review of social anthropological theories used in studying the Caribbean, he sees the various ethnic groups as having their own family systems, there own productive economies, their own languages and religion but not their own political system. In the political...
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