Last Updated 01 Apr 2020

Decline in Communal Living in the Pacific

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Abstract This essay will discuss the major reasons for the decline in communal living in the Pacific. Firstly the essay examines issues in regards to social change which are migration and conflict of interest. Secondly, the essay will discuss concerns from an economic standpoint where education and employment are considered. Thirdly, the essay will look at cultural issues in regards to Westernization and cultural identity. The essay concludes that the Pacific people need to realise in order for communal life to stay alive, these issues must be dealt with.

Countries in the Pacific have their own unique way of living. Communal living is seen to be the traditional way of life in the Pacific. People are bound together by their culture and tradition. Therefore, this way of life is slowly declining and being forgotten due to many major reasons. Some of these major reasons for the decline in communal life within the Pacific are likely due to issues such as social change, economic and culture. Firstly one of the issues for the decline in communal living in the Pacific is social change.

Migration is an issue related to social change, people looking for a diverse lifestyle elsewhere plays a major role in the decline in communal life in the Pacific. People want to experience a different way of life from the traditional communal way of living (Stahl & Appleyard, 2007). For example, Cook Islanders that still reside in a communal way of living, everything from chores to eating and entertainment are done together with the other members of the family or community, but many are pulling away from this way of life because they prefer to do things on their own..

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Also, to consider is the migration of people from a different culture and tradition into the pacific, who will have an influence on the Pacific islanders who may turn away from the communal lifestyle. An example of this would be foreign workers migrating into the country and bringing with them their way of life from their country as well as their culture in which young people could be influenced by this new lifestyle. Therefore, migration is a major factor in the decline of communal life in the Pacific.

Another point to consider is conflict of interest within the family in regards to land or religious beliefs. Land issues have been a contributing issue to many disputes within the family. Members of the family fighting over the same piece of land have caused hatred and disarray amongst family members. For instance, in Rarotonga when a person is given a piece of land to occupy and build a dwelling, they must go to court to obtain an occupation right. Once the occupation right is granted the occupier has seven years to build their dwelling.

Should they fail to erect a building within the timeline set a member of the family have the right to request that the occupation right be cancelled and a new occupation right be given to another family member. Also in relation to conflict of interest are religious beliefs. Families and communities can be set apart because of the difference in religion. For example, Sabbath for a Seventh Day Adventist believer is observed on a Saturday, therefore this is a day of rest and their day at Church, where as Sabbath for the Catholic religion is observed on Sunday.

Therefore, issues of land and religious beliefs are a large influence in the decline of communal living. Secondly another issue of importance in regards to the decline of communal living in the Pacific is economic concerns. Education can be seen as a contributing factor to the change in communal living in the Pacific. There are opportunities offered in education, and as people study towards a higher level of education, they have had to move to countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and America.

When they have completed their studies many people take up employment, whether it is within the township or overseas (Veramu, 2000). Therefore, education and employment contribute to the decline in communal living in the Pacific. Furthermore, employment opportunities are also an economic concern in relation to the decline in the communal lifestyle. The development of towns and cities bring about employment opportunities so therefore, a better pay packet and a new lifestyle encourage people to leave the traditional way of life and migrate to “greener pastures” overseas.

An example of this would be, in the Cook Islands the minimum hourly wage is be $5. 00 NZD per hour as a cleaner, compared to $13. 85 NZD per hour working as a cleaner in NZ (Clarke, 2013). Thus, employment is an issue in regards to the loss of this way of living in the Pacific. Thirdly, cultural values are also an issue in respect to the decline of communal life in the Pacific. A related aspect to culture issues is Westernization in which many Pacific Islanders have adopted the lifestyle and culture of western countries.

For instance, in the Cook Islands if there was a marriage ceremony in a village, everyone in the village would come together and prepare food, and decorate the building where the wedding ceremony would take place as well as the reception, it was an open invitation and everyone in the village(s) would come to celebrate. This no longer occurs as the influence from the west has changed the way people think. Therefore, western culture influence is also responsible for the decline in communal life in the Pacific.

Moreover, in relation to culture issues is the loss of cultural identity which many people are experiencing today, therefore this is a concern in the communal decline of life in the Pacific. In the past every person knew how to speak the language of their country, also knowing the protocols of their villages, and genealogy; the majority of people today have forgotten or have not been taught by their parents. For example, from the age a child is able to understand and communicate with people, they are taught by their parents, as well as people in the village about life and other experiences.

Thus, the cultural loss in one’s identity is a reason for the decline in Pacific communal life. To conclude, it is essential to be aware of the major reasons for the decline in communal life in the Pacific in relation to social impacts, economical concerns and cultural values. The Pacific people must realise that communal life is declining and it is threatening the traditions and culture of the Pacific. Traditional values and issues should be considered more to re-strengthened communal life in the Pacific. Communal life will die out if the issues are not examined and considered by the people in all the Pacific countries as a whole.

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