Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The buccra-massa and the little man's broker in a Jamaican sugartown: Implications for community health education

Contents:

Author Info

  • Whitehead, Tony L.
Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    In societies that have been historically stratified by class, interclass communication is frequently hampered by behaviors of higher status people that lower status people interpret as denigrating. To escape what they perceive as denigration, lower status people may attempt to avoid interclass interaction, and, when it is unavoidable, adopt such strategies as not making direct eye contact, saying very little except what they think the higher status people want to hear (including flattery), and using a lower status peer as an intermediary. Such behavioral patterns have important implications for the design of health services programs. This paper presents a case study of such interaction difficulties observed during 13 months of anthropological research in a Jamaican town. The lower status people in the town of Haversham (a pseudonym) refer to this avoidance behavior as the 'buccra-massa'. The antonym of buccra-massa is 'buck-the-massa'. 'Buck-the-massa' is characterized by being able to look higher status people in the eye and boldly engage them in conversation. Lower status persons who are known for bucking the massa are frequently used as intermediaries in cross-class interactions. Because Havershamians refer to higher status men as 'big men' and to lower status men as 'little men', the author calls the intermediaries used by lower status people in Haversham, 'little man's brokers'. The author argues that the buccra-massa and buck-the-massa behavioral traditions had their roots in the complex and extreme social inequalities of the slavery period in Jamaica. It is further argued that economic difficulties in Jamaica since the slavery period have contributed to the persistence of these behavioral dynamics to the present day. The buccra-massa/buck-the-massa behavioral complex is often manifested in health care settings in Jamaica. Thus, the author suggests that the little man's broker can be very useful in promoting less threatening, and therefore more effective, interactions between the clients and the staff of health and other human service programs. He notes that while staffmembers often view brokering behavior as trouble making, many of the clients they wish to serve view this same behavior as bucking-the-massa. It is a mistake, according to this analysis, to ignore the little man's broker. As this case study of Jamaica shows, accomplished brokers can choose to exert their extensive influence against utilization of services offered by specific programs. Finally, the author points to some cross-cultural implications of the buccra-massa/ buck-the-massa behavioral complex; it should be particularly looked for in societies which have long histories of slavery and/or colonial rule.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6VBF-463P4NH-65/2/54cdbd05390a4e0164eef5e4a8910fca
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 19 (1984)
    Issue (Month): 5 (January)
    Pages: 561-572

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:19:y:1984:i:5:p:561-572

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description

    Order Information:
    Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional
    Web: http://www.elsevier.com/orderme/journalorderform.cws_home/315/journalorderform1/orderooc/id=654&ref=654_01_ooc_1&version=01

    Related research

    Keywords:

    References

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    Citations

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:19:y:1984:i:5:p:561-572. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.