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Title: Dealing in self-ownership : the pursuit of money and personal autonomy in urban Jamaica
Author: Robertson, Lucy F.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Based on ethnographic research in Whitehouse, Montego Bay, Jamaica, this thesis examines understandings of personal autonomy and the pursuit of self-control in a small urban community. Whilst outsiders perceive people in Whitehouse as marginal to society, closer examination shows that although individuals consider themselves poor, they are not without agency. The thesis demonstrates that whilst Jamaica is a modern capitalist society, an understanding of local views of dependency and control is necessary for interpreting Jamaican social life. Individuals do not consider themselves to be dependent on other people - be it employers or kin - and it is through the deployment of an ideology and practice of autonomy that self-ownership is both sought and celebrated. By showing that people in Whitehouse do not simply resist dominant ideologies and practices, rather, they do not consider themselves to be under the control of others, this thesis contributes to anthropological discussions of power and resistance. Money plays a dominant role in a variety of contexts within Jamaica, creating an ideology which equates money and power. Through the analysis of discourses and practices surrounding money, it is shown that money can create freedom from unwanted relationships, but it can also limit a person’s freedom of choice, as pressure is applied to give money away, and individuals can feel ‘trapped’ in relationships. Thus within Whitehouse, money per se is not central to personhood, but the pursuit of money is integral to ideas about the person. In this way, any person can attain personal status through being active and creative in applying entrepreneurial skills. This theme runs through the thesis and shows how the most ‘marginal’ people attempt to achieve autonomy and self-governance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available