The Caribbean family: Continuity and transformation

  • Raymond T. Smith


The Caribbean family, assuming that one can generalize across such a diverse region, has proven exceedingly difficult to describe. High rates of teenage pregnancy, illegitimacy and unstable marriage are as characteristic today as they were in the early nineteenth century, but what those rates mean is not self-evident. Most writers have assumed that they reflect loose morals, family disorganization, and inadequate child care. But Caribbean people are family people, embedded in extensive networks of kin and practising such institutions as ‘family land’, the fostering of children and ritual godparenthood. This contradiction - negative images of family life imposed upon a reality of complex, supportive and extensive kinship ties - has been present throughout Caribbean history. Although it complicates the understanding of Caribbean family life, it affords insight into class and racial ideologies.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 2003

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  • Raymond T. Smith

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