consumption patterns

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  • 1. CONSUMPTION PATTERNS :

2. The Caribbean region was brought forcibly into interactions with the Wider world in 1492.Since then it has been locked into colonial relationships with different imperial powers. Even after some of these countries gained independence the imperial powers gave up political ownership however they exploited the structures of trade and commerce that they had set up to maintain economic power. So for the past 500 years of its history the Wider world has had a major hold on Caribbean society and culture. Economic power was supported through the thinking that the ways of the colonizers were better than that of the locals. 3. Historical trade and consumption patterns. The Caribbean has an outward focus where trade and consumption is concerned. A high percentage of the goods and services consumed in the Caribbean originate in the western countries, particularly the US. Since in historic times this pattern began with the Mercantilist laws known as the Navigation Acts. The only goods that could have been imported into the colonies had to come from Britain or from a port controlled by a captain on the ship using a British crew. 4. The colonies could have engaged in manufacturing however this was only because they were a source of raw materials for the industrial revolution in Britain and as a market for British manufactured goods. Independence did not significantly alter these patterns as few Caribbean countries began manufacturing from scratch since they did not have all the necessary resources. As well under colonialism the productive lands went into cash crop production to export with little emphasis on food production, consequently the food import bills for these ex-colonies were high. 5. However when the new Caribbean governments were introduced during the 1970s and the 1980s certain items were placed on a quota system whereby only a certain amount could have been imported with a special license. Others were placed on a negative list this meant that it could not have been imported at all. This however contributed to the formation of black markets where restricted items were sold illegally. These measures were designed to encourage local manufacturing, campaigns were also used as buy local. High tariffs were imposed on textile imports, but because of the lack of experience the local goods were relatively expensive and badly made. The customer therefore came to associate the local goods with cheap and shoddy and therefore developed the tradition of shopping abroad. 6. The CARICOM single market economy is another strategy designed to nurture and facilitate growth in local industries and trade. Overtime though many Caribbean manufacturing firms have gone out of business as trade liberalization policies have increasingly opened the region to cheap foreign goods and services. 7. Influence of extra-regional countries on the caribbean: consumption patterns. Europe and more recently the US, have profoundly influenced consumption patterns in the Caribbean. Although there has been strategies to reduce dependency and the amount imported a large percentage of the population continue to regard western products as the ruling class. This can be analyzed in the following ways: 8. The value in assessing what is foreign- music, food, clothing ,technology are seen as better than local alternatives and is believed to have more legitimacy. 9. The importance of associating products with being modern. This value encourages us to keep up with the latest innovations, fashions, movies, music, technology etc. People see the west as a pacesetter therefore they have no choice but to buy these products. 10. Building social capital. Brand names and designer labels are popular among youth as it confers on them the approval and envy of their peers. Those who do not follow these ways receive ridicule and derision. 11. The universal feeling that the US is a must see destination or even an only see one. Many Caribbean people visit the US over and over again and feel no interest to visit other countries, it gives the feeling of being at the centre of the world. It is even said to have a US visa is a prestigious status symbol.

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