Political Culture

“Drawing examples from any one Caribbean territory and using public opinion data from sources , to what extent is political culture less dependent on local culture as a result of recent technological developments. ” Political culture is the particular set of orientations, beliefs, customs, and preconceptions which are shared by members of the society, which give meaning to their political process, and which provide the underlying assumptions that govern their political behaviour and public policies (Lawrence 6).

On the other hand we have local culture, which Karen Lawrence describes as the history, family, politics, landscape, art, music and values and people melded into a sense of place that feels vibrant and cohesive and firmly rooted. Local culture is where and how one is connected to life and each other; it is the collective memory of a community. What is technology might one ask? Technology is the use of tools or instruments for any human activity.

These human activities can be production, storage, exchange, transportation or even consumption. It is the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life society and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial engineering, applied science, and pure science. Politics is an area which manifests may aspects of our culture and in these modern times, political culture in the Caribbean territory of Jamaica has become dependent on recent technological developments.

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Due to globalization, money, goods and manufacturing have become more mobile than they once were, and as a result corporations and businesses are allowed to finance, invest and move wherever they choose, they have a wider access to other countries across the world. There is a shift in the balance of power between international businesses and governments. National governments are less able to control the activities of mobile businesses than in the past, while corporations and financial institutions are in a better position to dictate to national governments.

They do this by, purchasing the currencies of states whose policies they approve and abandoning, or threatening to abandon the rest. In 2003, Jamaica’s debt stood at $4. 4billion owing to the IMF, the debt required that 52 cents of every dollar earned goes for interest payments. By this time Jamaica had already paid back 17 times the amount of money originally borrowed. Farming and industry have been in crisis. There was a very high unemployment rate and there has been migration from the rural areas to Kingston, people in search of jobs and opportunities.

There was an increase in crime and drug trade, which in turn have led to frequent police killings. Political violence and rioting has been seen in recent years. Responsible in part for this unrest and turmoil is globalization, ensnaring the country in enormous debt arranged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other international lending agencies at high interest rates. “The structural adjustments that were imposed by the IMF had cause for an increase in interest rates to industry and farmers, so that they could no longer compete with the flood of subsidized or “dumped” foreign imports.

These policies have driven down wages and forced the government to cut back funding for education, healthcare, and agricultural programs which benefit the poor (Harper 2003). ” Again due to globalization there was civil unrest and mayhem in Jamaica. In 2009 there was an extradition request from the USA for Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a drug kingpin who enjoyed demigod status in the west Kingston stronghold of Tivoli Gardens. The United States wanted him for drug trafficking and gun trade.

The then ruling party, the Jamaica Labour Party did not want to give up Mr. Coke, as he had close ties with the party. This included a construction company called Incomparable Enterprises, where Dudus was a partner, was awarded three government contracts by the JLP valued at $US 400 thousand, also a contract worth US $150,000 to transport materials to Riverton City landfill. Also the JLP was also responsible for campaigning and establishment of the “garrison” known as Tivoli. The USA said that they would cut all ties with Jamaica if Mr.

Coke was not extradited. Jamaica depended on the US for money and imported products. Jamaica could not afford to lose America’s support, as so in turn, Dudus was extradited. This is a clear example of the influence of globalization. According to Alec Ross, one of the creators of technology policy for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, “We are well beyond being able to consider social media a fad. If you are not open to social media spaces then you are not attuned to the dynamics on the street and you sacrifice both understanding and power. The emergence of Social Media has caused for the political culture in Jamaica to be less dependent on local culture, due to this recent technological advancement. In 2007 statistics showed that 539. 543 per 1,000 people in Jamaica used the internet, in 2005 3,042,000 people in Jamaica were telephone subscribers. Also in 2007 there were 2,700,000 mobile phone subscribers and 444. 079 per 1,000 people in Jamaica who had radios. In 2002, 70. 04% of households in Jamaica had televisions. These numbers are rising every year, with social media becoming more popular as the years go by.

In Jamaica there are 7 local television channels; the two main local channels being CVM and TVJ (Gordon 89). These channels no longer focus on what is going on locally in the country or show many locally produced shows. The time slots for these stations are filled with American based television shows, cartoon and movies. The local news also doesn’t focus on what is happening in the country each day, but only gives us a brief overview and then skips to “international news” updating the public on what is happening in places such as USA, Canada, Asia and South America just to name a few.

It is speculated that in Jamaica, the people know more about what is going on in America than they do about what is happening in their “own backyard. ” In Jamaica during election time, the political parties use the media as a way to voice their opinions of the other parties and also articles and pictures are published in order to persuade voters to vote for a particular party or to persuade the public to vote in general. The media also helps with political socialization, this is the process by which people form their ideas about  politics and acquire political values, the two main political arties in Jamaica being the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party. Social media currently plays a huge part in the political culture of Jamaica. Jamaica tries to emulate the political culture of the United States of America that is using social media forums which include facebook and twitter as a way to promote political parties instead of sticking the usual means of newspapers and new channels. As technology develops, politics has to develop along with it.

An example of this is seen by the creation of a facebook page called “Young Jamaica” which is an affiliate of the Jamaica Labour Party. The purpose of the page is to inform Jamaica’s youth about the JLP and to promote this party over the PNP. It encourages young Jamaicans to get enumerated and it also highlights the failures of the PNP and its members. Another example of social media forum is the seen by the creation of a facebook page called “Blame Bruce” which is an affiliate of the People’s National Party blaming past Prime Minister Bruce Golding for problems in Jamaica.

There was also a “hashtag” on twitter called “Blame Bruce”. The Jamaican political culture is less dependent on the local culture. The most recent instance of the local culture being brought into politics was due to the Jamaica 50th celebration on August 6th 2012, Jamaica was an independent nation for 50 years. Due to technological developments, the political culture of Jamaica is less dependent on local culture. Globalization and Social media have had a huge effect on the political culture, as these seem to have more of an influence than the local culture.

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