Plantation Society and Race Relations: The Origins of Inequality

Plantation Society and Race Relations: The Origins of Inequality

Plantation Society and Race Relations: The Origins of Inequality

Plantation Society and Race Relations: The Origins of Inequality

Synopsis

For more than three hundred years, the American South was essentially a plantation society, in which the plantation system penetrated all aspects of social, cultural, economic, and political life. During this period, plantation slavery evolved into the key institutional component of Southern society and played an integral role in its development. This interdisciplinary collection of essays provides a sociological framework for the interpretation of historical data on plantation slavery by addressing different questions concerning four broad areas of research--theoretical perspectives; social institutions; race, gender, and social inequality; and social change and social transformations. The contributors depict slave plantations as organized social systems that contributed significantly to the racial stratification of the Southern plantation society, and in this way served as the origin of contemporary race relations and social inequality in America.

Excerpt

This collection of essays examines the southern plantation society, with primary emphasis on antebellum slave plantations and their social organization, social functions, and social consequences. Slave plantations have been referred to as an invisible event in American history, in the sense that the word "invisible" describes in general terms much of American society's lack of appreciation for and understanding of the experiences of slaves and their descendants in antebellum and postbellum periods. In a different context, while sociology provides the general integrative theme for the interdisciplinary scope of the book, in general, sociologists have failed to sufficiently address this important social development in American history. The word "invisible" also aptly describes sociology's inadequate attention to plantation society and its social causes and consequences. Indeed, this was one of the main reasons for writing this book.

Of course, the slave plantation was very much a social construction, or as it has been often referred to, a "peculiar institution." Furthermore, within this institution, the slave community was a culturally and socially rich world. While some historical work, especially more recent research, has increasingly focused on the cultural and social attributes of slaves, we believe that sociology and essays from other disciplines represented in this collection directly contribute to and reinforce a growing awareness of this social world. In doing so, such work can analytically enrich our appreciation of this reality -- both the world of the slaves and the institutional and societal environments surrounding them -- through the insights that a sociological perspective, combined with approaches from other disciplines such as history, anthropology and economics, can bring.

For this reason, the editors and many of the contributors to this volume have emphasized (some formally and others less so) that the southern slave plantation was a unique form of social organization that over a period of more than two centuries evolved into a complex, institutionalized social system (Durant 1995). As a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.