Family Community Relations: Social Institutions Under Threat

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Elsie Le Franc
Wilma Bailey
Clement Branche


The development process in several countries in the Caribbean region has not proceeded at the pace, nor to the extent anticipated by most persons at the policy-making and decision-making levels, as well as the level of the ordinary citizen. Until now the discovery of strategies that can effectively bring about growth with equity has eluded these countries. The reasons for this are multiple, and must include factors related to events and circumstances in the global political economy, and policy decisions and behaviours at the local and national levels. The resources - human, financial, physical, economic, or otherwise - of the society are obviously also critical considerations. Historically, the explanations of the developmental dilemmas and of the possible prescriptions for their solutions have focussed most attention on issues at the macro level. Although most agree that that many of the problems have to do with the capacity and capability of the countries, not a great deal of attention has been given to the more specific deficiencies in the areas of social and cultural capacity, and therefore to the extent to which these could impede and stymie the development process. From time to time, there have been statements about the role of values, cultural orientations, beliefs, and tastes; but there has been very little real or systematic examination of the possible relationship between, for example, specific social institutional arrangements on the one hand, and the actual behaviours and decisions that could take the developmental process forward , on the other. Not only social stability, but also change and movement forward does after all, require some social consensus, or accommodation, and some integrity in the society's social institutional base. Boxill [1998] also takes a similar view about the debilitating effects of the conflict model that has, up until recently, been popular in certain academic and policy circles in the Caribbean. These institutions provide glue, framework, support, rationale, and stimulus for any given social activity and/or behaviour; their decay will therefore have inevitable and perhaps predictable consequences.

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