The study of the family in the Caribbean originated with European scholars who assumed the universality of the patriarchal nuclear family and the primacy of this structure to the healthy functioning of society. Matrifocal Caribbean families thus were seen as chaotic and disorganized and inadequate to perform the essential tasks of the social system. This article provides a more current discussion of the Jamaican family. It argues that its structure is the result of the agency and adaptation of its members and not the root cause of the increasing marginalization of peoples in the developing world. The article focuses on families living in poverty and how the family structure supports essential family functions, adaptations, and survival.
Clinical Nurse Specialist, Family Nursing, Associate Dean and Clinical Professor, Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York