According to George Beckford the present Caribbean society can be regarded as a “plantation society”. Indeed, since the plantation society was a particular class of society with distinguishing characteristics of social structure and political organization, and laws of motion governing social change (Barrow and Reddock, 2001). It was a place of residence as well as a place of work. However, is that theory by George Beckford is factual? The operative word in the premise ‘regard’, which translated to mean ‘view’. Therefore, can the Caribbean society viewed as a plantation society? I can agree with this statement. The evidence can be seen from first analyzing various aspects of the plantation society, such as the living conditions, a system of stratification based on race and colour, social structure and economic model associated with this system.
No doubt, In the Caribbean during the period of slavery introduced a social and political order which formed the social structure and class of the plantation society. This social structure was stationary, hierarchical and pyramidal in design. The whites occupied the top which was the ruling and planter class people. Below them were the mixed population along with some poor whites and free people of colour which didn’t have much political power as the ruling class. The majority of people was at the bottom of the pyramid and they were the blacks.
These people were the labour class and within this class saw racial divisions and a labour hierarchy. An example of this would be the school system, where the students are at the bottom of the hierarchy and above them are the teachers. The students and teachers in this concept abide by the rules of the principal, where the principal is at the top of the hierarchy. Relating to the school system and plantation system, the chairman could be viewed as the overseer of the school. Real existence of social class in today’s society, where you have the upper class, the middle and lower.
The upper class is an elite group of people who occupy the highest positions. For instance Hon. Andrew Holness (Prime Minister of Jamaica) who have political power and influence over the middle and lower class. However, it is also evident that the hierarchy that embodies the plantation is still with us in the Caribbean today.
For instances, people who are born in the upper class structure is likely to remain in that structure due to the riches they will inherit. Housing is another aspect of class separation embodies the hierarchy of class, for example. The gated communities where the people are separated from the garrisons like areas in St. Andrew and Kingston.
Racism is another aspect where it is evident that individuals are denied jobs and positions due to skin colour. The demand for higher wages is also evident where workers would go on strike for more payment. An example of this would be the teachers who want more pay in today’s society. Moreover in the plantation society they was a dependency on metropolitan economy.