Sociology - Caribbean Families

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There are various types of Caribbean family forms. The emergence of the different family types was largely due to historical influences that shape Caribbean civilization; such as racial diversity, ethnicity, social class, African cultural retention, legacy of Plantation slavery, and culture of poverty (Herskovits, Lewis, Clarke, Smith). Caribbean society has grown into an international mixture of different races and ethnic groups that construct their reality in the Caribbean. This mixture has resulted in a unique social system which can be describes as plural, polarized, politicized, problematic, but still some what plantation society. This has impacted the type of family units that emerged in the region. A family can be defined as a social unit of common residence involving two adults who are in a sexual relationship. Children of either of the adults, from both, or who have been adopted also form part of this family unit. According to Beckford “The plantation is a total economic institution. It binds everyone in its embrace to the one task of executing the will of the owner or owners. And because it is omnipotent and omnipresent in the lives of those living within its confines, it is also a total institution” (Beckford, 1972, p.55). Additionally, George A. Murdock defines the family as “a social group characterized by common residence, economic cooperation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of whom maintain a socially approved sexual relationship and one or more children, own or adopted of the sexually cohabiting adults” (Murdock, Social Structure, 1949). Others theorists defined it as a group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles and aunts.

The most popular family forms in the Caribbean are:       The family based on common-law union or consensual cohabitation in which the parents live together but are not legally married; The nuclear family, conjugal or the marital union in which the parents...
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