Race, Ethnicity and Social Stratification

in Three Majority African-Caribbean Societies:

Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent

Abstract

After an extensive review of the literature, this study examines 1991 census data in three majority African-Caribbean societies. It concludes that traditional models of social stratification based on race/colour and colonial privilege are outdated. Education explains most income and occupational differences among groups. After two decades of political independence and economic modernization, the top tier in the hierarchy is comprised of an educated elite of black professionals, politicians, and businessmen. Blacks also constitute a majority of middle, working and lower classes. With the possible exception of the Carib Indians at the bottom, minority groups are very small with limited impact except in the economic sphere: Syrians-Lebanese in Dominica, Portuguese in St. Vincent, and white expatriates (on short term contracts) and retirees.