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...
References: in Social and Economic Studies, Vol. 2, NOS. 2 and 3, October, 1953, Institute of Social and
Economic Research, University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
Michael Haralambos, Martin Horlborn and Robin Herald. 1990. Sociology. Themes and
Black Middle Class. (Paper presented at the 88th Annual Meeting of the American
Sociological Association, Miami, Florida – August 26th, 1993) Kingston Jamaica: The
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