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Impact of Social Institutions on

Caribbean Culture and Society

The Social Institution of the Justice
The justice system refers to the interaction of those
social institutions that are clearly identified with social

It further includes the relationship between crime, the

law, judiciary, police and the protective services

The justice system is therefore concerned with

maintaining a society where citizens are treated justly
and fairly.
Justice System Contd
Members of society are usually taught what is
considered as acceptable or unacceptable social
behaviour at a young age via the family and the
education institution (primary and secondary

Observance of these rules are most often based on a

system of rewards and sanctions. For e.g. Children are
rewarded for acceptable behaviour and punished for
unacceptable behaviour
Functionalist perspective of the Justice
They believe that justice, equality and fairness help to
form the basic framework of society and are universally

Deviant behaviour is best explained in terms of a

breakdown in the socialisation within the family or
how individuals react to changes in society

Society must find ways to deal with deviants (those

who break the laws of society) and deviant behaviour,
as these contribute to disorder, chaos and confusion in
Functionalist Perspective on the
Justice System Contd

The institution of the justice system was created to

take care of deviants through punishment, deterrence
or rehabilitation; therefore the operations of the police
force and court system have a role to perform.
The Marxist Perspective of the Justice
They believe that the justice system is oppressive and
exploitative of the lower class of society

Members of the lower class are usually targeted as

criminals and therefore the fairness of the justice
system is not extended to these individuals. For e.g.
Members of the upper class are sophisticated criminals
and therefore they are rarely caught by the police or
convicted in the court. This makes it seem as if crime is
predominantly a lower class activity, which may not be
the case
Marxist Perspective of the Justice
System Contd

According to the Marxists, structural inequalities in

society brought on by capitalism, isolate the poorer
groups. Their acts of crime are therefore thought of as
rebellion against their situation and not deviant acts
Crime is used as an excuse to enact legislations to
restrain the poor and is in the interests of the elites.
The family
Functionalism is the dominant view of reality that Caribbean people
hold towards the family. However, there is much diversity in family
forms existing in the region and the values accepted are not evident
in practice

It may be argued that the Marxist perspective of the family provides

a more accurate picture, for e.g. As it relates to the sexual division
of labour within the family. To this end the nuclear family, which is
not the prevailing family form of the region, is still held in high
esteem. It is argued however, that this is so because the nuclear
family unit represents the value of the rich and powerful in society

The impact of the education institution on Caribbean

people can be viewed in terms of both the
Functionalist and Marxist perspectives. Therefore,
some may believe that the education system works
with other institutions in society to ensure the smooth
working of society, while others believe that the
dominant ideas of education are those of the elites
whose children have greater access to education and
continue to succeed

Throughout the Caribbean religion impact our lives as a

conservative force associated largely with positive values

Christian worship in the Caribbean has historically been associated

with preserving social life according to accepted norms and values

However, syncretism of religious forms in the Caribbean displays

elements of resistance and independence. They therefore help to
comfort the worshipper but also oppose mainstream values and
thus seek to undermine the status quo. For e.g. Rastafarianism

On the whole, the Functionalist perspective of religion is most

dominant in the Caribbean
The Justice System

Ones perception of the justice system is usually a

result of ones experience. Therefore the justice system
impacts individuals through their understanding of