Cajuns - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Social cohesiveness in Cajun Communities as well as a general sense of being Cajun was maintained through various informal mechanisms that brought Cajuns together both physically and symbolically. The Roman Catholic church was a major unifying force, as it provided the belief system that supported many Cajun practices as well as differentiated Cajuns from their mostly Protestant neighbors. As noted above, the extended family and the somewhat larger kinship network were the basic social groupings in Cajun society. These social units were maintained through daily participation of members and through regularly scheduled get-togethers such as the boucherie and the fais do-do and the cockfights that brought the men together. There was no formal class structure, though a Cajun elite, the "Genteel Acadians" emerged in the early 1800s. They were mainly a few families who had become wealthy as farmers, merchants, or professionals. They tended to marry non-Cajuns, lived among Anglos and Creoles, and looked down upon the poor, rural Cajuns. Within the Cajun group in general, there was a continuum of wealth, though most were poor. Today, as the Cajuns have shifted from being a distinct cultural group to an ethnic group, group cohesiveness has weakened, with a sense of "being Cajun" derived from Membership in a group that shares a common tradition.

Political Organization. There was no overarching political structure governing Cajun life, nor was there any purely Cajun political organization at the local level. Rather, Cajuns generally participated in Louisiana and national politics as voters. Two governors and other state officials came from the Genteel Acadian ranks in the 1880s. In the 1900s, Edwin Edwards, "the Cajun Governor" was first elected in 1972.

Social Control and Conflict. Conflicts were preferably handled by the local group, through mediators, or through fighting between men when matters of honor were involved.

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