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During Slavery and Colonialism, Status in the Caribbean Was Largely Ascribed. Explain Why Status Determination Is Based More on Achievement and Less on Ascription in Contemporary Society.

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During slavery and colonialism, status in the Caribbean was largely ascribed. In this essay, ascribed and achieved status would be discussed with respect to race and education. Status is defined as a person's position, relative to that of others, and is usually determined by the amount of honour and prestige that he or she enjoys because of their particular role in society. Ascribed status is fixed at birth and cannot be changed during a person's life, whereas, achieved status is where a person can attain status during his or her life. Parsons argued that in contemporary Western society, achieved status would become dominant over ascribed status. Regardless, social status is useful as contributes to the maintenance of the balance of society.

Social stratification, the condition of being arranged into social strata or classes, was a prominent theme of Caribbean history, and was usually determined by race. In the Caribbean, during slavery, society was structured according to race, an ascriptive factor. Racism was institutionalized; therefore, the social structure of each racial group was a rigid system. Race determined the life chances of the Caribbean people. For example, if born an African, you were automatically a slave. This was referred to as a 'closed' society, which is based on ascribed statuses. One's status was determined at birth and there is absolutely no social mobility.

The plantation society of the Caribbean was a closes system which provided no or little opportunities for social mobility. Positions were largely ascribed or fixed at birth. One example is the caste system. In the caste system, a person's position such as occupation and social relationships is determined at birth by ascribed statuses such as skin colour. People who are born into the caste system spend their entire lives within their caste, with little or no chance of changing their position. Social statuses, which were ascribed according to race, determined access to opportunities, like the ownership of assets such as land and the chance of obtaining education. During the period of slavery and colonialism, the whites were dominant in the Caribbean because they controlled the political system as well as the economy. In this way, blacks were deprived of any kind of social mobility.

After slavery was abolished, the fight for equal rights among the Caribbean people continued and the Caribbean society started to change from being a closed society to an open society. An open society is one which is based upon achieved statuses and allows its members to attain social mobility despite ascribed factors. Therefore, a person's social position can be achieved through his or her efforts. As the years progressed, the blacks in society moved up the social ladder. One of the ways in which this occurred was through mulattoes, persons born to white fathers and black mothers. They automatically ranked higher than the blacks

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