social stratication

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Essay Topic: Discuss the View that the system of social stratification developed in the Pre-emancipation period remains largely unchanged in the Caribbean today.

Social Stratification can be defined as “a particular form of social inequality. It refers to the presence of social groups which are ranked above the other, usually in terms of the amount of power prestige and wealth their member posses. Those who belong to a particular group or stratum will have some awareness of common interest and a common identity.”(Haralombos, Holborn and Herald 1990, pg 24). In the Caribbean, studies have been conducted to show that the stratification of the Caribbean today is reflective of the structures of Colonialism, Plantation Slavery and Indenturship, which was based on the economic criteria of wealth through ownership and access of society’s resources. Although the fight for emancipation of these countries brought independence, the past continues to shadow on the societal structure of today. To effectively conduct these studies two of the more populated countries were used namely Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica which reflected the gradual change which took place after emancipation. Post emancipation saw a change in the stratification system. One not completely based on Slavery or Intendurship but assimilation, producing a system of inequality based on class, race status hierarchy and power. These determinants were now used to position people into new categorize. In a study conducted in Jamaica after World War II, it was found out that there was rise of a new stratification system one of class, race and status. In other words, those person who had the access to society’s resources were above the ones who had to work to get there, who were usually the one’s placed in minority groups or the lower strata. Barrow and Reddock stated “The modernization of the economy which was altered produced a system of the post emancipation plantation society created a modern enclave within the traditional society and forged the growth of new social classes and a modified stratification period.” Pg191. Movement to the upper stratum was based on the distinction of race color and ownership of property. According to M. G Smith the period following the emancipation of slaves, the plantation economy had produced three distinct levels of stratification. “The upper stratum of whites , who owned the economy’s resources, a brown middle stratum of those who were in professional, technical jobs and the lower stratum made up of poor black ex- slaves”. In addition to this, studies conducted in the Jamaica reflected that in the levels of hierarchy, persons were grouped according to their skin color. It was also found out that there was limited mobility within the strata not until after the industrial revolution where there was vertical mobility between occupations. The blacks were gradually moving from the lower strata into the middle strata. M.G Smith (1965) noted that “Industrialization resulted in the widening of the economy thus increasing job creation and thus the emergence of new social classes.”(Rotham D 1993) There was also movement of the blacks in terms of intergenerational mobility. Like Smith, Derek Gordon noticed the increase in social mobility and but he pointed out that person with low economic backgrounds were not able or were unfairly chanced to achieved social mobility and ending at the top of the middle strata. Lloyd Braithwaite in his studies of Trinidad found out the stratification system was much like to that of the caste system which determined one’s status. Also, again the society is still defined by race and ethnicity. “Members of the upper social group tend to look upon the upward mobile individual belonging to an ethnic group in terms of his ethnic similarity or dissimilarity to the white group, viewing the mass of the ethnic group as exceptions” Lloyd Braithwaite pg47. In this case Syrians, Asian and...
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