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Title: Ranking and reciprocity in Bequia, West Indies
Author: Gibson, G. B.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1981
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This thesis presents and analyses data collected on the Caribbean island of Bequia in the St. Vincent Grenadines between January 1975 and August 1976. It employs an individualistic perspective based on transactional and communications theory and seeks to establish whether observations made about prestige seeking, reputation building, and social ranking can be better understood in the context of exchange relationships on the island. On Bequia there was little consensus on social ranking or even on the prestige values worth striving for, but individuals were intensely active in pursuing various prestige values and in improving their own reputations and social standing while minimizing others' achievements. On the individual level, exchange affected this prestige competition both qualitatively and structurally. On the qualitative dimension, many of the values relating to class and prestige said something about an individual's qualities and abilities in an exchange relationship. Which values were emphasised and pursued by an individual depended upon what kind of exchange partners he or she wished to attract. Structurally, the ethic of support existing between exchange partners constrained individuals to refrain from undermining the standing of particular others, and induced them to protect their interests instead. Conversely, denigrating an exchange partner's social standing was a regular strategy for sanctioning lack of co-operation. Considerations of exchange also contributed to an understanding of the stratification situation on the island as a whole. The Black population's new-found economic independence and the elite's dwindling control over the means of production affected overall patterns of exchange on the island and prevented the elite from using superiority in exchange situations as a means of enforcing their prestige claims. Because of this, the prestige competition was not only intensified, but it was no longer necessary for any section of the population to accept the claims of any other as valid.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available