Examining Race in Jamaica: How Racial Category and Skin Color Structure Social Inequality

Jamaica’s social inequality is primarily held to be class-based due, in part, to the country’s perceived ethno-racial homogeneity and to the particularities of its colonial past. However, whether “race” also systemically shapes inequality in Jamaica remains understudied. To address this empirical la...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Race and social problems
Main Author: Kelly, Monique D. A.
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
Published: 2020
In:Race and social problems
Year: 2020, Volume: 12, Issue: 4, Pages: 300-312
Online Access: Volltext (Resolving-System)
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Summary:Jamaica’s social inequality is primarily held to be class-based due, in part, to the country’s perceived ethno-racial homogeneity and to the particularities of its colonial past. However, whether “race” also systemically shapes inequality in Jamaica remains understudied. To address this empirical lacuna, I examine the effects of two measures of race—categorical race and skin color—on years of schooling and household amenities using data from the 2014 AmericasBarometer social survey. I find that access to household amenities and years of schooling are starkly structured by racial category, and even more robustly by skin color, across all dimensions. The findings challenge long-held assumptions that marginalize race with regards to social inequality in Jamaica. They also suggest the importance of a multidimensional approach to studying the effects of race for understanding stratification dynamics in Jamaica. As an English-speaking, majority Afro-descent society in the Caribbean, the study’s findings add a unique country case for comparison to Latin America and may also speak to other similar contexts in the region.
ISSN:1867-1756
DOI:10.1007/s12552-020-09287-z