Different social groups from within and outside a population greatly influence the economic activities practiced by a given group of people. Tongan islands were able to develop a new economic foundation which is practiced till this very day. For instance, capitalist colonization has entailed state formation in many parts of the world. That being the case, today we have very many countries which have adopted the capitalist economic and such has been effective in improving development (Gailey, 1987, p. 149). Because of that, some colonization-associated state formation has emerged out of societies we have termed as “primitive communist.” This has resulted in a different form of economy. In this paper, we will expound on this issue with reference to Tongan Islands.
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The Tongan islands are found in the Southern parts of the Pacific Ocean and comprise of over 176 islands. Currently, about 52 of the islands are yet to be inhabited. During the colonization of Tongan Islands, the British were ready to make the islands a part of their territory and by so doing change the economic practices. The earlier economic was known as “primitive communism” whereby a number of issues were jointly addressed. For example, during the nineteenth century, very many developments took place in these islands, mainly resulting from the new penetration of different social groups from outside and inside the society. That being the case, the new penetration of the social groups from different corners of the world promoted new changes as well as cultural practices of the natives (Gailey, 1987, p. 263).
Basically, any new change and influx of people into a new society will definitely result in new changes in terms of economic activities, cultural practices, economic status, and even in political practices. This is exactly what happened in the Tongan Islands as more and more individuals and colonialists continued to penetrate the region. There were also increased trading practices which favored influx of people and exchange of ideas among the societies. This made it possible for both the natives and incomers to influence the changing trends in the cultural, economic and societal practices.
One of the significant contributions by the new social groups coming inside and outside of the society was the formation of class formation, something coming out of a ra1nked, estate-ordered kinship. For instance, the 19th century saw the Tongan Islands as a central area for trade and other practices. The increased exploration by the British also led to new practices in the Islands. In that connection, new ideas were developed and people began to adopt new principles and leadership approaches. For instance, the society became class-oriented, meaning that people were inclined to specific classes, something that was not being practiced earlier (Gailey, 1987, p. 264). Most of the people into the islands brought in new ideas and practices thus making it possible to adopt new societal relations.
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As well, the native social groups of individuals living in Tonga also played a very big role in changing the situations and nature of practice in the islands. The people who came into the islands continued to determine the new forms of cultural practices, mostly influenced by their permanent settlement in the region (Gailey, 1987, p. 272). When referring to the social groups here, it as well includes all the individuals who settled in the region during the 19th century. Their presence her thus helped change very many things about the practices and economic situations and practices of the Tongan culture. The natives of Tongan Islands were also influential in determining the future practices, gender roles and economic practices of the people thereby making it a different society that what it used to be.
What happened is that the old system defined by a ranked, estate-ordered kinship society is that it was weakened by the new ideas. This killed the old systems whereby a few individuals appeared to possess power in comparison with others. The British and other trading groups also influenced the hierarchical systems thus making it possible to adopt new forms of societal orientation (Rapaport, 1999, p. 47). Different social groups from different corners penetrated the islands, therefore, influencing new approaches whenever addressing most of the societal issues. This kind of influence thereby helped a lot towards the realization of new societal foundations thus discouraging the old kinships as practiced earlier in the society. This is a classical intervention towards a capital economic system which is practiced up to this present day.
After the penetration of new social groups into the Tongan Islands in the 19th century, it was notable that most the people, and especially producers, were greatly influenced. Newer methods of production were borrowed from the new social groups thus encouraging the development of a capital economic. Earlier producers were only determined to produce materials destined for use only (Gailey, 1996, p. 172). This meant that most of the products were only for subsistent use and therefore they lacked the right quality for the markets. The new social groups penetrating the Tongan Islands improved the methods of production by promoting adoption of new technologies and production in bulk.
That being the case, it was necessary to produce materials for the market and by so doing practice in the ongoing trade operations. Most of the groups believed that trade was the best practice capable of improving economic development and also ensure that a lot of income was gained from the production. The reason leading to such adoptions included the need to trade with other societies, achieve economic sustainability, and also produce plenty for future consumption (Gailey, 1996, p. 174). This would therefore play a major role towards improvement of the economy of the islands. Most of these practices during the time also influenced other developments such as public utilities and the need to improve infrastructure and means of communication. Increasing competition also helped promote production. The idea was to produce quality products and materials capable of competing in the market. This saw a total change from use-oriented to market-oriented production.
From a keen examination of cultural forms as described by Gailey (1987, 265), subordinated groups within the process of deploying the so-called customary practices is something that have been rejected in terms of culture. Basically, the social classes in the Tongan Islands developed within the formation of state in the 19th century. This was mainly catalyzed (but not caused) the main activities of the missionaries and merchants who would be the colonial agents (Gaieley, 1987, 170). Another important thing was the role of women in the society; until recently, the voices of women from Tongan Islands used to be heard only indirectly through their sons or husbands at meetings and during female Representative of the People. However, this has changed from the 1980s since we have commoners coming from the social class and professional world who have been able to influence governmental reform agendas in the society (Gailey, 1987, 176).
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As well, the influx of different social groups influenced the creation of gender hierarchy on a societal scale. During the 19th century, there were specific principles defining gender roles and activities in the society. The new social groups from outside and inside of Tongan Islands played a major role in influencing the decisions and gender values in the society. The new incentives provided by such individuals thereby promoted this new ideology. New foundations related to gender roles were developed thereby making it possible to have different gender hierarchies (Daly, 2009, p. 76). Because this was basically a primitive period in history, men appeared to have a higher position in terms of societal scale compared with their fellow women. This is something even practiced this present day in the islands. These foundations in the Tongan Islands have been used to define the society and especially how men and women relate with one another.
However, it would be acknowledgeable for us to state that today Tonga is not yet a fully defined capitalist state even after advancing from the so-called “primitive-communist” state. For instance, some things such as property and land are still owned communally, something which is representative of a communist state. This is a practice that has been done for quite a long time in the Tongan Islands. Most of the societal practices and orientations have remained semi-communal thus making the state a non-capitalistic economy (Gailey, 1987, p. 272). Other conflicts in the society have as well played a major role in defining the economic situation of these islands. For instance, the kin-civil conflict has been a major issue in these islands resulting from the societal orientations. This is something that has been caused by the uneven gender hierarchy occurring in the state.
The unevenness has been as a result of the kin-civil conflict faced in the islands. This has resulted in uneven gender hierarchy thereby today we will have both women and men in the states in the local kin-communities defending the fahu and other examples of pre-state kinship and gender relations. These developments have been a major part of the Tongan culture as inherited and passed from generation to generation. This is the reason why the state is yet to be a full capitalist economy (Gailey, 1987, p. 165). Such developments have been able to impact significantly on the gender roles, economic practices, and societal orientation and cultural practices in the Tongan Islands. Today many things are carried out as they used to be done some hundred years ago because of the uneven gender hierarchy in the islands.
Today the gender issue in the “anga fakatonga” towards democratization is something that has lied on the foundation and basis from which many people make claims on one state to the other. Such extent to democratization movement has thus been focused to gain the sole control of the state. This has been done by distancing itself from some of the customary practices or even retaining some of those aspects of the customary practices. That being the case, the major challenge towards the hierarchy and the oppression posed by the women”s efforts will be marginalized. A democratization move that appears to valorize such women”s concerns would defend the kin-based rights like right to land, stewardship as long as the resources have not been threatened.