EDUCATION AND SOCIAL MOBILITY

THE CASE OF THE JAMAICAN PEASANT

Book Cover: EDUCATION AND SOCIAL MOBILITY

Education and Social Mobility: The Case of the Jamaican Peasant was written and published in 2008. As background, the Paper describes:

  1. The four major institutions that formed the peasant communities, (free villages) that newly freed slaves established to enable themselves to move off plantations and away from the degradation of slavery.
  2. The three main periods of engagement of the Colonial State with public education between 1834 and 1962 in Jamaica: The Delinquent Colonial State, 1834 to 1865; the Benevolent Colonial State 1866 to 1899 and the Re-aligned Colonial State 1900 to 1962.
  3. Changes in the involvement of Christian denominations over the period 1834 to 1962

Against this background the Paper details the patriarchal communities that free villagers, with support from dissenting Christian Denominations, established  to rectify the matrifocal forms that had developed in slavery and how these translated into male-biased upward social mobility patterns that favored men and boys in the 19th century as well as how female-biased upward social mobility patterns emerged in the 20th century as the Colonial State, with the support of Christian Denominations, favored education of girls and women. The Paper documents empirical data on school enrolment and literacy disaggregated by gender, race, and age to provide evidence of the shifts in patterns described.

The Paper concludes with a discussion of what the patterns of relations between education and upward social mobility of the descendants of African ancestry in Jamaica, over more than a century, contribute to two seminal debates on the legacy of slavery and African retentions. The first debate was in the United States in the late 1930s and early 1940s between E. Franklin Frazier, "The Negro Family in the United States", and Melville J. Herskovits, "The Myth of the Negro Past". The second was between Raymond T Smith and Michael G Smith in the 1960s about the nature of Caribbean societies.

References are also made to the works of Edith Clarke, ‘My Mother Who Fathered Me’ and George Beckford, ‘Persistent Poverty’. The observation is made that while the Case of the Jamaican peasant is congruent with some positions taken by these sociologists, anthropologists, and economists, the central consideration appears to be the structure of opportunity sponsored by groups controlling the State and the cross-purposes of those participating in the education system.

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