Carib of Dominica - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Voluntary organizations such as adult sports teams, Boy Scout troops, commercial cooperatives, and church congregations provide some structure to social activities, but most of these are short-lived and involve relatively few individuals. Even though adults who live together do not usually pool their belongings, households structure much of the economic activities of members. Dyadic ties between friends are perhaps far more instrumental in shaping the daily activities of most adults, however, especially those of men.

Political Organization. The elected Carib council and Carib chief symbolically represent the Carib people to outsiders, but they have limited power and influence within the territory. There are named neighborhoods within the territory but no corporate communities. The Carib have had a representative in the national parliament since 1975. Political parties vie for Carib loyalties before national elections, but the Carib are neither well represented nor well organized as a political force. At times when the special political status of the Carib Territory was considered to be under attack, however, the residents have shown that they have the capacity to coalesce and act in unison. Presently, there is much consensus that less interference and more funding by the national government would be welcome.

Social Control. Until the mid-twentieth century, a strong ethos of egalitarianism was generally accepted by all Carib, but this attitude has been compromised by an unevenly rising standard of living within the territory. Although jealousy and accusations of witchcraft continue to operate as social-control mechanisms that encourage more sharing of individual wealth, these controls are now least effective when directed at relatively rich Carib. A national police post was established in the Carib Reserve in 1930; these police had little to do in the past, but today a sharp rise in reports of theft keeps them busy.

Conflict. The Carib chief is often described as being responsible for settling disputes among the people, but his role in this regard is very limited. Increasingly, individuals turn to the Dominican court system for addressing grievances with other Carib. Adults often gossip viciously about offending neighbors, and fights sometimes break out between drunken men or jealous women. Bystanders are likely to consider such behavior a great source of entertainment. Many Carib believe that neighbors who live too close to each other are more likely to have disputes, and there are many examples illustrative of such conflicts.


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