Fri | Jan 19, 2018

The impact of weak institutions on Jamaica

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Since the beginning of the new year, we have seen how weak institutions have impacted on our country.

When Carl Stone observed that the home, the Church and the community were the most active institutions of socialisation in the period of a more rural and agrarian country, and that modern Jamaica was being socialised by the school and the workplace, the implications were profound.

Our institutions seem to be in a state of "flop and pop down." It is hard to know who to trust, but we have to build and strengthen our institutions, or we have little chance of surviving and competing with older societies and those with strong institutions.

We have embraced violence, hypersexuality, mediocrity, injustice, to the extent that the many who are doing good and well feel frustrated and despondent.

Today, our values and attitudes are being shaped by social and mass media. We also have to link the impact of an oral culture which values the spoken word and the social media and the development of what a colleague called Tracebook.

So when the institutions which bind the society are weak, we have the low level of social capital, little trust of our leaders, and a society which is on the brink of collapse. We are very exposed, as the volatility and uncertainty in the world and the economy permeate every aspect of life.

I was out of the country when the allegations concerning the sex scandal in the Moravian Church were revealed, but was amazed to see the dialogue in the newspapers and social media.

This is an important point in our history to unmask wrongdoing to assess the impact of our institutions and to address these matters in a comprehensive way. I have noted our propensity for character assassination, our failure to devise appropriate responses from a legal, moral, social and economic standpoint.




If we expect the Church to provide new educational institutions and a moral compass, we have to demand probity and a higher level of behaviour.

We have to foster better behaviour in our families and all of the institutions needed to build a strong society. Where leaders fail, they must be held accountable.

It is easy to discard colonial structures, but 54 years after Independence our thinking and behaviour is plagued by ambivalence and a vain, glorious hope that someone else will solve our problems, and that all we need to do is talk and that, by some magic, we will solve Jamaica's problems.

Building this country is a very difficult job which requires consensus, commitment and action.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling

Mona School of Business and Management, UWI MONA