Home Economics: Meeting the Needs of Families in a Changing Caribbean
Caribbean families have throughout history displayed remarkable resilience and a key reason for this has been their ability to modify and reconfigure itself to suit their specific social and political context (James and Harris,1998; Chamberlain,1999). A culturally appropriate definition of the Caribbean family, an understanding of its composition and its origins can best help to explain its evolution towards interventions for meeting the needs of these families and their communities. While similarities between the familial structures and the impact of multiple variables upon families in the Caribbean and other parts of the region of the Americas exist, nuances and yet distinct differences prevail. All territories in the region have experienced socio-political changes and the resulting economic and demographic trends have affected some territories more than others. Nonetheless the Caribbean family continues to recreate itself as it is impacted by global trends, more particularly the intra-regional changes in cultural, religious, economic and political policies and practices.
A dearth of current statistics for the critical variables of familial roles and structure, immigration, repatriation and their impact on the family tend to diminish the magnitude of these changes, their effects and interventions to mere conjecture. This lack of empirical evidence presents a challenge for scientific discussions, but because vast similarities exist within and between countries in the Caribbean the presentation will benefit from a qualitative approach derived from focus group discussions and available statistics. The presentation will discuss critical impacts and examine solutions and implications for home economics towards improving the quality of life for families.
Key words: Caribbean families, trends, social change
Audrey A. Jones-Drayton, M Ed., IPHE, CPHE,
Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, Barbados