Theme: The Caribbean must be judged by its own traditions. 
Traditions are qualitatively understood. The foundations of 
Caribbean politics rest on geography, history and culture 
(topics 1,2,3). It is upon these that we study the main 
challenges of Caribbean societies, this being empowerment 
through democracy and development (topics 4,5). At the same 
time we conduct this study through a Caribbean political 
science in order to overcome some biases of the traditional 

1.POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY: (Physical Attributes)

- Spatial Analysis - Size, Location, Ecology.

Mainstream political science has ignored Caribbean political systems on two grounds: one is that being so small they are relatively simple societies and easily governed. Therefore they have few lessons of interest for the study of politics.

This reflects a bias of traditional political science because of its emergence in the 'big' countries. Small states are worth studying comparatively because they comprise about one-half of all countries so to ignore them would be to ignore a large portion of the universe of political systems. At any rate size and geography constitute structures in their own right that explain much about politics and its context. It is what is explained by geography that is discussed in this section.


- Historical Analysis. - The Barbados Model.

The other ground on which mainstream political science has ignored Anglo-Caribbean states is that of their relative newness, gaining political Independence only in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's. They do not, it is therefore said, have an established history of modern politics on which one can safely make judgements over a sufficiently long period of time. Of course, this argument loses force with each passing year and certainly countries like Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana have been independent for over 35 years now and have had modern party and electoral systems going back to the 1940's and 1950's. Surely this is history enough.

I will argue that even the Caribbean's longer colonial history has been very important in shaping the different ways that these countries respond to their contemporary world. I centre the discussion on Barbados which represents a distinct pattern of historical development and then discuss the other countries and their points of departure from this 'Barbados model'.


- Cultural Analysis - Ideas, Nationalism, Values,.

Mainstream political science has studied political culture in order to understand what cultural conditions support liberal democracy and political stability. It has largely ignored the Caribbean supposedly on the presumption that since the Anglo- Caribbean countries are stable and democratic then the culture is democratic. Nonetheless changes in civic culture values need to be assessed and indeed, the Caribbean might have its own cultural complements of democracy and stability which are different from those of North America and Europe.

We will study the Anglo-American cultural impact along with the Caribbean's creole culture and the foundational ideas and values lodged in music, religion, and nationalism to see how they define Caribbean social and political identity.


- Leadership - Personalities - Style

The Founding Father's of the modern Caribbean contributed their own style of leadership which was often middle class and charismatic. This style and the personalities behind it had a different impact under the conditions of separate Caribbean countries and in the context of emerging nations. The nature of leadership will be studies separate from the structure of political systems and its importance in the formative period of mass politics and nationalism.


- Democratic Theory - Anglo-Caribbean Democracy - Latin Caribbean Democracy.

Democratic theory is an evolving one. The present "wave" of democratization and the renewed popularity of its study in political science must be enriched by its regional variations and the adaptation of older traditions to new designs. Leading scholars of this wave (Huntington, Diamond) have said very little about the Caribbean in this regard.

The Caribbean is a product of two traditions of politics: the Anglo-American and the Latin American. These traditions find new expression in the Caribbean context against the background of geography, history and culture. How are these traditions being modernized and Caribbeanized? How do these traditions help or hinder the Caribbean's attempts to meet contemporary democratic and developmental expectations? How does the Caribbean compare with other regions on measures of democracy and human rights? These are the main questions in this study.


- Civil society - main organizations and impact

The emergence of the modern Caribbean was influenced by the role of civil society organizations such as the church, the media, trade unions, and professional as well as voluntary organizations. Their role has contributed to the character of democracy, interest group politics and the political culture. The most important of these organizations need to be studied especially because they have been neglected in the past and are only now being appreciated because of the new emphasis on 'civil society'.


- The State in late-decolonization - The nationalist State - The State under structural adjustment

The Caribbean state has undergone three phases of development. The first was that of the colonial state in the period of decolonization. The second was that of the nationalist state in the period of early Independence. The third, covers the present period from the mid-1980's in the period of 'good governance'. We will investigate the different purposes that these state forms served and the forces that created them. Modern reforms will be understood as an effort to further de-colonize the state while making it more democratic and service oriented.


- The Movement of Caribbean Peoples - The Global Caribbean - The impact of overseas communities on home societies.

The movement of Caribbean peoples has been studied by migration theory. The main concern has been with push and pull factors - what makes people leave their home country and what opportunities attract them away. A new emphasis, fifty years after the modern era of Caribbean migration began, must be to consider what this transnational community of Caribbean peoples represent in world politics, world culture and the world economy and how the migrant societies can contribute to the development of the home societies.

The Caribbean is usually defined by geography. However the movement of Caribbean peoples and cultures have established a wider transnational Caribbean and new linkages between the Caribbean home and the host communities abroad. These linkages have important consequences -positive and negative - for the future of the geographical Caribbean. We will look at the main linkages and their consequences and adapt migration theory to these.

Robert Buddan Department of Government June 28, 1999.


Theme: The Caribbean must be judged by international standards. 
This is the expectation of those who make assessments of 
political systems around the world and how those systems perform. 
Such assessments rely largely on quantitative comparative 
measurements. This is the approach taken here. It relies heavily 
on a data base of Caribbean political variables.


- Different electoral systems. - Electoral controversies.

Democracy is often measured by a minimal standard of free and fair elections. We explain the major electoral systems of the Caribbean and ask how free and fair are elections in the different countries. The different electoral systems of the English and non-English speaking countries will be compared on the basis of freeness and fairness. Current issues of electoral reform will be addressed.


- Party Systems. - Dominant Party Patterns. - New Parties and Party dynamics.

Democracy is measured by the competitiveness of party systems and the nature of choice between parties, that is what parties stand for.We want to know how symmetrical power is between the parties, how competitive party systems are, and how well they perform their roles and functions in light of new non-party forces of participation and representation. In many Caribbean societies, new parties are emerging and promise to change the fundamental nature of party politics. Caribbean politics is therefore moving from a more simple to a complex dimension of party politics.


- The state of human rights. - The state of human development. - The comapartive performance of Caribbean countries.

Democracy is measured by the extent to which human rights are respected but the performance of government is assessed by the degree to which human development is satisfied. The state of human development affects the state of democracy. Caribbean governments are compared with each other and with other countries in these two areas. The quality of human life, standards of living, and equity have implications for levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction and for political stability in the region. The relative successes and failures of the region on these measures will be looked at.


- The nature of crime and corruption. - The nature of justice. - The state and security.

The state of crime and corruption reveal much about the state of democracy, human rights, human and moral development. High levels of crime undermine the right to personal security and a high-security state in turn represents a potential threat to personal freedom and justice. Corruption causes both waste and discrimination which undermine a government's performance and trust in public officials. Furthermore, crime and corruption affect the environment within which markets and market rules best operate. In these ways and for these reasons market democracies are assessed in the context of levels of crime and corruption. In all of this, the state and the security forces of the region have become controversial for the roles they play.


- Race, Ethnicity and Class. - Impact on Politics.

Democracy rests on the principle of non-discrimination. It treats the voter/taxpayer as citizen in abstract from his or her ascriptive attributes. Caribbean societies are multi-ethnic, multi-racial and class societies. A good test of the principle of non-discrimination is the extent to which patronage is based on ascriptive criteria as against distributive justice or merit. Controversies over discrimination will be looked at in the context of human rights and equity, as well as the potential for political tribalism and instability.


- Oppositional Movements. - Violent and Peaceful Opposition. - The Oppositional Agenda.

The small and sometimes fragile democracies of the Caribbean and experienced different forms of opposition to the status quo. It is important to identify the social, economic and political sources of opposition movements, how their demands are coped with, what successes they have achieved and what has accounted for their failures. The history of the Caribbean is in a sense a history of opposition. It is necessary to see how relatively new democracies cope with the problems of consolidating democracy in the face of multi-ethnic, multi-class and developmental concerns over equity and political inclusion.


- Constitutional Reform. - Political Modernization.

The political models inherited from colonialism have come under much criticism in recent times. Caribbean political leaders have responded with varying degrees for constitutional reform. A comparison of these reform efforts will be made as well as judgments about how adequate and far-reaching they promise to be. Political modernization will be discussed in light of the new international emphasis on democracy and human rights along with a new and autonomous space for the maturation of civil society.


- The Wider Caribbean. - The state of Caribbean Integration. - The impact of globalism and Development Models.

The challenges facing Caribbean Politics and societies include those caused by globalization. The experience of small economies, societies and polities in a world that is undergoing structural transformation and how well these societies cope with this, s of interest here. Globalization offers both positive and negative consequences for the region. The two sides of globalization will be looked at and how the region must adjust to make the best of the opportunities evolving.Deveopmental theory in the Caribbean has been influenced by the major schools among neo-classical and political-economy approaches. At present, international developmentalorganizations (IMF, World Bank, UNDP) seem to have more influence in programming development as against the earlier tradition of theorizing development.

Caribbean governments have explored and practiced different models of economic development. They broadly fall under a liberal-market model and a statist basic needs model. However, there have been important variants among these. Three important variants are the Cuban revolutionary model, the Off-Shore model and a liberal adjustment model. We must ask what account for these variations and what are the comparative strengths and weaknesses of each. Importantly, we must consider how successfully these models meet the needs of Caribbean peoples towards providing a better quality of life.

Robert Buddan Department of Government. June 28, 1999.

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