Social Cultural Hinder Socio-Economic Developments in the Pacific Societies. Essay

It is evident that the social and economic developments in the South Pacific societies are hindered by their social and cultural system. Religious beliefs and Traditional land tenure are a few of the major obstacles to ways in which development can be well planned and implemented.

Religious beliefs can neglect an individual’s financial needs, limiting ones performance, promote incompetence in the workforce and restrict tourist movement while on the other hand, limitation on traditional land tenure system as it is with Tonga, Tonga discourages foreign and local investors and this hindered infrastructure development also contributing to increasing unemployment. South Pacific societies are known for their strong religious beliefs that contribute much to their culture however, it can be a threat to its social development.

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Upon the acceptance of Christianity it is believed that Pacific Islanders adjusted their way of life accordingly as per teachings of their new religion and make it a significant culture of today. This is evident in culture similarities within the region. For instance, dress codes (cover up) as well as The Law of Sabbath. Tourists are encouraged to dress appropriately in public places. Law of Sabbath is still practiced in most parts otherwise stated. Tourists and private investors may find this hard to follow or may be annoying.

Some individual strong believers pledge not to work on Sunday even if extra money is needed. This contributes to lack of manpower in the workforce on Sunday. A church can be given free land by a follower as a token of his/her commitments to God where as it can be used for investing. Tonga is the only country in the South Pacific society that Law of Sabbath is still enforced. Any kind of entertainment activity and business trade are prohibited thus contributing more to the slow growth of their economical development.

In addition, traditional land system tenure within the South Pacific society poses a major obstacle to the social and economic development. Communal lands are owned by a group of people (clan or tribe) as well as traditional leadership systems based on inheritance. In the eyes of many a Pacific Islanders, land is often regarded as a family, clan or tribal asset. It is ones culture, identity and it also has a fundamental meanings that all can relate to as their own.

In that view, selling of land will not be an option to most however, in some places land is totally prohibited for sale, Tonga is an example. Under the Land Act, Kingdom of Tonga (1998) Revised Edition (2010) implicitly states that any landholder who sells or attempts to sell any land out-and out to any other person shall be liable on conviction therefore to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years. All land in Tonga is the property of the King and only male Tongan subjects can own land. There are three main land entitlements, which are the tax allotment, town allotment and hereditary estates.

The hereditary estate was originally distributed among members of the royal family and other male title-holders (James 1995). It is clear that land structures in Tonga make it difficult to foreign and local investors in contributing to its economy. Although these traditional patterns hinder the opportunity to accelerate the social and economic development with a promising brighter future, Pacific Islanders opt to maintain their identity and values in preserving their culture. These sense of belonging are still a paramount in the hearts of the South Pacific societies beyond compare.


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