Section 9 - Family in the Caribbean - Family in the...

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Family in the Caribbean African and Indian Heritage According to Herskovits (1964) and Frazier (1957), the lower class Negro family was ‘maternal’ and frequently  extended, and rates of illegitimacy were high.     Herskovits (1964) argued that the Africans brought with them cultural practices which they retained as slaves  on the plantation system.  One of those practices was polygamy.  Affective bonding and structural closeness  exists between a mother and her child or children.  The husband or father is marginal to the group.  Herkovits  maintained that this pattern of behaviour persisted in the Caribbean family. It is for this reason that men are  seen as having marginal roles within the family and mothers are supporters of the household.   Morton Klass (1961) explained the presence of the extended family due to the East Indian heritage.  According  to Morton Klass(1961) in his study of East Indians in Trinidad, women tend to marry young and seldom  engaged in visiting relationships as did African women while in their father’s home.  Family tends to have a  strong patriarchal influence.   Morton Klass attributed these patterns of behaviour largely to North Indian  cultures and the fact that East Indians have retained or recreated them in the Caribbean, especially in societies  such as Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname.             Ethnic Diversity and Caribbean Kinship Page 1 of 7
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In the Caribbean, ethnicity plays an important role in family patterns.  In the Caribbean, African and Indian  kinship patterns result in different family organisations.   Afro Caribbean Edith Clarke (1966) in My Mother Who Fathered Me, stated that family structure was dependent on economic  conditions, social status and stability of the relationship between the couple.  Clarke’s research findings in the  community of Orange Grove in Jamaica are summarized below. 1. It was not considered proper for a man to propose marriage unless he owned a house and was able to  support a family.  It was considered derogatory for a wife to “go out to work”. 2. Marriage was seen as a status factor and thereby encouraged, the community had little criticism of  concubinage.   Men enjoyed talking about sexual prowess. It was a status factor to have fathered  children with different conquests. 3. Cohabitation prior to marriage was not frowned upon as this was seen to provide evidence of stability  between partners. 4.
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This note was uploaded on 10/25/2010 for the course SOSCI INBA6610 taught by Professor Prescott during the Fall '08 term at University of the West Indies at St. Augustine.

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Section 9 - Family in the Caribbean - Family in the...

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