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Socialization of children in Belize: Identity, race and power within the world political economy
In this dissertation I consider the relationship between child socialization and the perpetuation of social disparities, based upon ethnicity or race, within the context of a stratified world political economy. The goal was to derive a qualitative analysis of the ways in which children experience and respond to the moral, structural, behavioral and material aspects of socially constructed relations of inequality.^ Data for this study were collected during a twelve month stay in Belize, Central America, in 1984-85, primarily in Belize City among urban dwellers who identify themselves as "Creole." I maintained intensive interaction with approximately seventeen families and over forty-five children. To assist me in assessing the children's perceptions of themselves I engaged them in story telling, open-ended interviews, doll play, modeling with clay, drawing and casual exchanges. I also collected data on the images and messages conveyed in the market place, the church, the home, the media and the schools.^ Results indicate that children in Belize are exposed to a complex multilevel socialization process which serves to reinforce and perpetuate colonial and neo-colonial unequal relations of power. The colonial ideologies of power, paternalism and racial superiority are imbedded in the fabric of the society, negatively affecting the children's sense of themselves and their relationship to the world. Belizean children are found to be systematically denied the material and ideological tools with which to optimally exploit their environment. Their responses to these circumstances varies according to individual personalities and life histories.^ Conclusions drawn from my research lend support to the argument that the identity which children in this situation develop, contributes to the creation of the conditions for the continued maintenance and reproduction of a world stratified according to political, economic and social power in which invidious distinctions made between groups of people on the basis of phenotypic characteristics, such as skin color, influence access to critical, life sustaining resources. The children I know in Belize City are aware of the distinctions, aware of the power and aware of their position within this stratified world. ^
Anthropology, Cultural|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Social Structure and Development
"Socialization of children in Belize: Identity, race and power within the world political economy"
(January 1, 1987).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.