The acculturation of Barbadian agriculture workers in Canada

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Lewis, George Kinsman, 1937-
Izmirlian, Harry
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
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The central problem of this dissertation is the acculturation of Barbadian agriculture laborers who seasonally work in Canada. Several years ago, the author became aware of the squalid conditions in which Barbadian migrants worked. As he formed his opinion of Canada's rural slums or field ghettos he increasingly became concerned with what these rural slums meant to the migrants.This interest lead to a focus on acculturation processes and a very careful study of the Barbadian value system and how those values were related to the life style Barbadians could pursue by continuing to work in Canada. Acculturation was examined within the contexts of culture, social structure, and personality. Social structure refers to patterns of group formation and factors responsible for such patterns. Culture refers to values and ideas held by people, while personality is conceived in terms of the emotional and psychic processes of individual persons. Acculturation is frequently viewed as a process which occurs when two or more previously separated cultures come into a patterned form of contact to a degree sufficient to produce significant changes in either or both societies. In this study acculturation was utilized in a somewhat different sense, since the author looked at a situation where a selected group of Barbadian agriculture workers had sporadic but patterned and ongoing contact as a consequence of seasonal labor migration. With respect to this study acculturation means the acceptance and internalization by the migrant worker of a set of Canadian beliefs and values and thus the modification of the migrants' customary behavior.This customary behavior is based upon five dominant and traditional Barbadian male values which include having and caring for a wife and family, keeping girl friends, owning the land on which his house is situated, owning the house and working. The degree to which Barbadian workers internalize specific Canadian values, primarily the work ethic, was analyzed in relation to these Barbadian values.This was accomplished by conducting intensive interviews in Canada and in Barbados with fifteen Barbadian agriculture workers. Through questionnaires and by participant observation, cultural data and personality data were collected. These data fell into several classes such as biographies, genealogies, household family information, aspiration levels, attitudes towards sexuality, religion, the work ethic, world leaders, entertainers, music, work skills, philosophy of man and conceptions of present and ultimate success.The author demonstrated through two analytical perspectives, namely a systems explanation and an actor oriented explanation that two models of acculturation emerge for Bajan agriculture workers who seasonally are employed in Canada. One group of migrants shows a significant degree of acculturation. These individuals have internalized the Canadian work ethic; rejected the major traditional Bajan values concerning women; have few dependents and these dependents require a minimal demand on resource allocation; become decision makers since they hold a high social position and are culturally and structurally flexible; play a nonkin and universalistic role in life; and develop into entrepreneurs.The other migrants in the author's opinion show little acculturation. These individuals have rejected the Canadian work ethic; adhered to the traditional male value system; have many dependents and these dependents require a maximum demand on resource allocation; are structured since they hold a high social position and are culturally and structurally inflexible; play a kin-oriented and particularistic role in life; and remain employees.