CONTENTS FOREWORD iii A NOTE TO THE TEACHER AND STUDENTS viii 1. SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 1 2. TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 24 3. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 40 4. CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 63 5. DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 82 CHAPTER 1 SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY market that decides which subject I choice may increase or decrease your chances in the job market. The third INTRODUCTION and fourth advice complicate the matter Let us begin with some suggestions even more. It is not just our personal that are often made to young students effort or just the job market that makes like you. One advice often made is, a difference — our gender and family or “Study hard and you will do well in social background also matter. life.” The second advice as often made Individual efforts matter a great deal is, “ If you do this subject or set of but do not necessarily define outcomes. subjects you will have a better chance As we saw there are other social factors of getting a good job in the future”. The that play an important role in the final third could be, “ As a boy this does not outcome. Here we have only mentioned seem a correct choice of subject” or “As the ‘job market’, the ‘socioeconomic a girl, do you think your choice of background’ and ‘gender’. Can you subjects is a practical one?” The fourth, think of other factors? We could well “Your family needs you to get a job soon ask, “Who decides what is a ‘good job’?” so why choose a profession that will Do all societies have similar notions of take a very long time” or “You will join what is a “good job?” Is money the your family business so why do you criteria? Or is it respect or social wish to do this subject?” recognition or individual satisfaction Let us examine the suggestions. Do that decides the worth of a job? Do you think the first advice contradicts culture and social norms have any role the other three? For the first advice to play? suggests that if you work very hard, you The individual student must study will do very well and get a good job. hard to do well. But how well h/she The onus rests upon the individual. The does is structured by a whole set of second advice suggests that apart from societal factors. The job market is your individual effort, there is a job defined by the needs of the economy. 2 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY The needs of the economy are again Third, this chapter introduces determined by the economic and sociology as a systematic study of political policies pursued by the society, distinct from philosophical and government. The chances of the religious reflections, as well as our individual student are affected both by everyday common sense observation these broader political and economic about society. Fourth, this distinct way measures as well as by the social of studying society can be better background of her/his family. This understood if we look back historically gives us a preliminary sense of how at the intellectual ideas and material sociology studies human society as an contexts within which sociology was interconnected whole. And how society born and later grew. These ideas and and the individual interact with each material developments were mainly other. The problem of choosing subjects western but with global consequences. in the senior secondary school is a Fifth, we look at this global aspect and source of personal worry for the the manner in which sociology emerged individual student. That this is a in India. It is important to remember broader public issue, affecting students that just as each of us have a as a collective entity is self evident. One biography, so does a discipline. of the tasks of sociology is to unravel Understanding the history of a the connection between a personal discipline helps understand the problem and a public issue. This is the discipline. Finally the scope of sociology first theme of this chapter. and its relationship to other disciplines We have already seen that a ‘good is discussed. job’ means different things to different societies. The social esteem that a II particular kind of job has or does not have for an individual depends on the THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION: culture of his/her ‘relevant society’. THE P ERSONAL P ROBLEM AND THE What do we mean by ‘relevant society’? PUBLIC ISSUE Does it mean the ‘society’ the individual We began with a set of suggestions that belongs to? Which society does the drew our attention to how the individual individual belong to? Is it the and society are dialectically linked. This neighbourhood? Is it the community? is a point that sociologists over several Is it the caste or tribe? Is it the professional circle of the parents? Is it generations have been concerned with. the nation? Second, this chapter C. Wright Mills rests his vision of the therefore looks at how the individual in sociological imagination precisely in modern times belongs to more than one the unravelling of how the personal and society. And how societies are unequal. public are related. SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 3 Activity 1 Read the text from Mills carefully. Then examine the visual and report below. Do you notice how the visual is of a poor and homeless couple? The sociological imagination helps to understand and explain homelessness as a public issue. Can you identify what could be the causes for homelessness? Different groups in your class can collect information on possible causes for example, employment possibilities, rural to urban migration, etc. Discuss these. Do you notice how the state considers homelessness as a public issue that requires concrete measures to be taken, for instance, the Indira Awas Yojana? The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society. That is its task and promise… Perhaps the most fruitful distinction with which the sociological imagination works is between ‘the personal troubles of the milieu’ and ‘the public issues of social structure’... Troubles occur within the character of the individual and within the range of his immediate relations with others; they have to do with his self and with those limited areas of social life of which he is directly and personally aware... Issues have to do with matters that transcend these local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life. The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the failure of individual men and women. When a society is industrialised, a peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a businessman. When classes rise or fall, a man is employed or unemployed; when the rate of investment goes up or down, a man takes new heart or goes broke. When wars happen, an insurance salesman becomes a rocket launcher; a store clerk, a radar man; a wife lives alone; a child grows up without a father. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both... (Mills 1959). The Indira Awas Yojana, operationalised from 1999- 2000 is a major scheme by the government’s Ministry of Rural Development (MORD) and Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) to construct houses free of cost for the poor and the homeless. Can you think of other issues that show the connection between personal problems and public issues? A homeless couple 4 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY This question of what to focus in III society is indeed central to sociology. PLURALITIES AND INEQUALITIES We can take Satyajit Ray’s comments AMONG SOCIETIES further and wonder whether his In the contemporary world we belong, depiction of the village is romantic. in a sense, to more than one ‘society’. It would be interesting to contrast this When amidst foreigners reference to with a sociologist’s account of the Dalit ‘our society’ may mean ‘Indian society’, in the village below. but when amongst fellow Indians we may use the term ‘our society’ to denote The first time I saw him, he was a linguistic or ethnic community, a sitting on the dusty road in religious or caste or tribal society. front of one of the small thatch- This diversity makes deciding roofed tea shops in the village which ‘society’ we are talking about with his glass and saucer difficult. But perhaps this difficulty placed conspicuously beside him— of mapping society is one not confined a silent signal to the shopkeeper to sociologists alone as the comment that an Untouchable wanted to buy below will show. some tea. Muli was a gaunt forty- While reflecting on what to focus year-old with betel-blackened teeth on in his films, the great Indian film who wore his long hair swept back maker Satyajit Ray wondered: (Freeman 1978). What should you put in your films? What can you leave out? Would you A quote from Amartya Sen perhaps leave the city behind and go to the illustrates well how inequality is central village where cows graze in the to differences among societies. endless fields and the shepherd Some Indians are rich; most are plays the flute? You can make a not. Some are very well educated; film here that would be pure and others are illiterate. Some lead fresh and have the delicate rhythm easy lives of luxury; others toil hard of a boatman’s song. for little reward. Some are politically Or would you rather go back in powerful: others cannot influence time-way back to the Epics, anything. Some have great where the gods and demons took opportunities for advancement in sides in the great battle where life: others lack them altogether. brothers killed brothers… Some are treated with respect by Or would you rather stay where you are, right in the present, in the police; others are treated like the heart of this monstrous, dirt. These are different kinds of teeming, bewildering city, and try inequality, and each of them to orchestrate its dizzying contrasts requires serious attention (Sen of sight and sound and milieu? 2005: 210-11). SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 5 Discuss the visuals What kind of pluralities and inequalities do they show? 6 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Activity 2 The Economic Survey of the Government of India suggests that access to sanitation facilities is just 28 per cent. Find out about other indicators of social inequality, for instance education, health, employment etc. IV everyday life and also about others’ lives, about our own ‘society’ and also INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY about others’ ‘society’. These are our You have already been acquainted with everyday notions, our common sense the sociological imagination and the in terms of which we live our lives. central concern of sociology to study However the observations and ideas society as an interconnected whole. that sociology as a discipline makes Our discussion on the individual’s about ‘society’ is different from both that choices and the job market showed of philosophical reflections and how the economic, political, familial, common sense. cultural, educational institutions are Observations of philosophical and interconnected. And how the individual religious thinkers are often about is both constrained by it and yet can what is moral or immoral in human change it to an extent. The next few behaviour, about the desirable way of chapters will elaborate on different living and about a good society. institutions as well as on culture. It will Sociology too concerns itself with norms also focus on some key terms and and values. But its focus is not on concepts in sociology that will enable norms and values as they ought to be, you to understand society. For as goals that people should pursue. Its sociology is the study of human social concern is with the way they function life, groups and societies. Its subject in actual societies. (In Chapter 3, you matter is our own behaviour as social will see how sociology of religion is beings. different from a theological study). Sociology is not the first subject to Empirical study of societies is an do so. People have always observed and important part of what sociologists do. reflected upon societies and groups in This however does not mean that which they live. This is evident in the sociology is not concerned with values. writings of philosophers, religious It only means that when a sociologist teachers, and legislators of all studies a society, the sociologist is civilisations and epochs. This human willing to observe and collect findings, trait to think about our lives and about even if they are not to her/his personal society is by no means confined to liking. philosophers and social thinkers. All of Peter Berger makes an unusual but us do have ideas about our own effective comparison to make the point. SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 7 In any political or military conflict evidence that allow others to check on it is of advantage to capture the or to repeat to develop his/her findings information used by the intelligence further. There has been considerable organs of the opposing side. But this debate within sociology about the is so only because good intelligence differences between natural science and consists of information free of bias. human science, between quantitative If a spy does his/her reporting in and qualitative research. We need not terms of the ideology and ambitions enter this here. But what is relevant of his/her superiors, his/her here is that sociology in its observation reports are useless not only to the and analysis has to follow certain rules enemy, if the latter should capture that can be checked upon by others. In the next section, we compare them, but also to the spy’s own sociological knowledge to common side... The sociologist is a spy in very sense knowledge which will once again much the same way. His/her job is emphasise the role of methods, to report as accurately as h/she procedures and rules in the manner in can about a certain terrain (Berger which sociology conducts its 1963:16-17). observation of society. Chapter 5 of this Does this mean that the sociologist book will provide you with a sense of has no social responsibility to ask what sociologists do and how they go about the goals of his/her study or the about studying society. An elaboration work to which the sociological findings of the differences between sociology will be applied. H/she has such a and common sense knowledge will responsibility, just like any other help towards a clearer idea of the citizen of society. But this asking is not sociological approach and method. sociological asking. This is like the biologist whose biological knowledge V can be employed to heal or kill. This SOCIOLOGY AND COMMON does not mean the biologist is free of SENSE KNOWLEDGE responsibility as to which use s/he We have seen how sociological serves. But this is not a biological knowledge is different from theological question. and philosophical observations. Sociology has from its beginnings Likewise sociology is different from understood itself as a science. Unlike common sense observations. The commonsensical observations or common sense explanations are philosophical reflections or theological generally based on what may be called commentaries, sociology is bound by ‘naturalistic’ and/or individualistic scientific canons of procedure. It means explanation. A naturalistic explanation that the statements that the sociologist for behaviour rests on the assumption arrives at must be arrived at through that one can really identify ‘natural’ the observations of certain rules of reasons for behaviour. 8 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY ledge have been made, generally Activity 3 incrementally and only rarely by a dramatic breakthrough. An example of poverty has been given below and we also touched Sociology has a body of concepts, upon it in our discussion on the methods and data, no matter how homeless. Think of other issues and loosely coordinated. This cannot be how they could be explained in a substituted by common sense. naturalistic and sociological way. Common sense is unreflective since it does not question its own origins. Or Sociology thus breaks away from in other words it does not ask itself: both common sense observations and “Why do I hold this view?” The ideas as well as from philosophical sociologist must be ready to ask of any thought. It does not always or even of our beliefs, about ourselves — no generally lead to spectacular results. matter how cherished — “is this really But meaningful and unsuspected so?” Both the systematic and question- connections can be reached only by ing approach of sociology is derived sifting through masses of connections. from a broader tradition of scientific Great advances in sociological know- investigation. This emphasis on Explanation of Naturalistic Sociological Poverty People are poor because they are Contemporary poverty is caused afraid of work, come from by the structure of inequality in ‘problem families’, are unable to class society and is experienced budget properly, suffer from low by those who suffer from chronic intelligence and shiftlessness. irregularity of work and low wages (Jayaram 1987:3). Unsuspected Connections? In many societies, including in many parts of India, the line of descent and inheritance passes from father to son. This is understood as a patrilineal system. Keeping in mind that women tend not to get property rights, the Government of India in the aftermath of the Kargil War decided that financial compensation for the death of Indian soldiers should go to their widows so that they were provided for. The government had certainly not anticipated the unintended consequence of this decision. It led to many forced marriages of the widows with their brother- in-law (husband’s brother or dewar). In some cases the brother-in-law (then husband) was a young child and the sister-in-law (then wife) a young woman. This was to ensure that the compensation remained with the deceased man’s patrilineal family. Can you think of other such unintended consequences of a social action or a state measure? SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 9 scientific procedures can be understood developed. The Indian colonial only if we go back in time. And experience has to be seen in this light. understand the context or social Indian sociology reflects this tension situation within which the sociological which “go far back to the history of perspective emerged as sociology was British colonialism and the greatly influenced by the great intellectual and ideological response developments in modern science. Let us to it…” (Singh 2004:19). Perhaps have a very brief look at what because of this backdrop, Indian intellectual ideas went into the making sociology has been particularly of sociology. thoughtful and reflexive of its practice (Chaudhuri 2003). You will be VI engaging with Indian sociological thought, its concerns and practice in THE INTELLECTUAL IDEAS THAT WENT greater detail in the book, INTO THEMAKING OF SOCIOLOGY Understanding Society (NCER T, Influenced by scientific theories of 2006). natural evolution and findings about Darwin’s ideas about organic pre-modern societies made by early evolution were a dominant influence on travellers, colonial administrators, early sociological thought. Society was sociologists and social anthropologists often compared with living organisms sought to categorise societies into and efforts were made to trace its types and to distinguish stages in growth through stages comparable to social development. These features those of organic life. This way of looking reappear in the 19th century in works at society as a system of parts, each of early sociologists, Auguste Comte, part playing a given function influenced Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer. the study of social institutions like the Efforts were therefore made to classify family or the school and structures different types of societies on that such as stratification. We mention this basis, for instance: here because the intellectual ideas that • Types of pre-modern societies such went into the making of sociology have as hunters and gatherers, pastoral a direct bearing on how sociology studies empirical reality. and agrarian, agrarian and non- The Enlightenment, an European industrial civilisations. intellectual movement of the late 17th • Types of modern societies such as and 18th centuries, emphasised reason the industrialised societies. and individualism. There was also great Such an evolutionary vision advancement of scientific knowledge assumed that the west was and a growing conviction that the necessarily the most advanced and methods of the natural sciences should civilised. Non- western societies were and could be extended to the study of often seen as barbaric and less human affairs. For example poverty, so 10 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY far seen as a ‘natural phenomena’, how far reaching the change began to be seen as a ‘social problem’ industrialisation brought about was, caused by human ignorance or we take a quick look at what life in pre- exploitation. Poverty therefore could be industrial England was like. Before studied and redressed. One way of industrialisation, agriculture and studying this was through the social textiles were the chief occupations of the survey that was based on the belief that British people. Most people lived in human phenomena can be classified villages. Like in our own Indian villages and measured. You will be discussing there were the peasants and landlords, social survey in chapter 5. the blacksmith and leather worker, the Thinkers of the early modern era weaver and the potter, the shepherd were convinced that progress in and the brewer. Society was small. It knowledge promised the solution to all was hierarchical, i.e. the status and social ills. For example, Auguste Comte, class positions of different people were the French scholar (1789–1857 ) clearly defined. Like all traditional considered to be the founder of societies it was also characterised by sociology, believed that sociology would close interaction. With industrialisation contribute to the welfare of humanity. each of these features changed. One of the most fundamental VII aspects of the new order was the degradation of labour, the wrenching THE MATERIAL ISSUES THAT WENT of work from the protective contexts of MAKING OF SOCIOLOGY INTO THE guild, village, and family. Both the The Industrial Revolution was based radical and conservative thinker was upon a new, dynamic form of economic appalled at the decline of the status of activity — capitalism. This system of the common labourer, not to mention capitalism became the driving force the skilled craftsman. behind the growth of industrial Urban centres expanded and grew. manufacturing. Capitalism involved It was not that there were no cities new attitudes and institutions. earlier. But their character prior to Entrepreneurs engaged in the industrialisation was different. The sustained, systematic pursuit of profit. industrial cities gave birth to a The markets acted as the key completely new kind of urban world. It instrument of productive life. And was marked by the soot and grime of goods, services and labour became factories, by overcrowded slums of the commodities whose use was new industrial working class, bad determined by rational calculation. sanitation and general squalor. It was The new economy was completely also marked by new kinds of social different from what it replaced. England interactions. was the centre of the Industrial The Hindi film song on the next Revolution. In order to understand page captures both the material as well SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 11 From working class neighbourhoods to slum localitites 12 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY as the experiential aspects of city life. From the film C.I.D. 1956 Activity 4 Aye dil hai mushkil jeena yahan Note how quicly Britain, the seat of Zara hat ke, zara bach ke, yeh the Industrial Revolution became hai Bombay meri jaan an urban from a predominantly Kahin building kahin traame, rural society. Was this process kahin motor kahin mill identical in India? Milta hai yahan sab kuchh ik milta nahin dil 1810: 20 per cent of the population Insaan ka nahin kahin naam-o- lived in towns and cities. nishaan 1910: 80 per cent of the population Kahin satta, kahin patta kahin chori lived in towns and cities. kahin res Significantly the impact of the Kahin daaka, kahin phaaka kahin same process was different in India, thokar kahin thes Urban centres did grow. But with Bekaaro ke hain kai kaam yahan the entry of British manufactured Beghar ko aawara yahan kehte has goods, more people moved into has Khud kaate gale sabke kahe isko agriculture. business Ik cheez ke hain kai naam yahan Geeta:(Bura duniya woh hai kehta The mass of Indian handicraftsmen aisa bhola tu na ban ruined as a result of the influx Jo hai karta woh hai bharta hai of manufactured machine-made yahan ka yeh chalan goods of British industries were not absorbed in any extensively PARAPHRASE: Dear heart, life is hard developed indigenous industries. here, you must watch where you’re The ruined mass of these going if you want to save yourself, this handicraftsmen, in the main, took to agriculture for subsistence is Bombay my dear! You’ll find (Desai 1975:70). buildings, you’ll find trams, you’ll find motors, you’ll find mills, you’ll find The factory and its mechanical everything here except a human heart, division of labour were often seen as there’s no trace of humanity here. So a deliberate attempt to destroy the much of what is done here is peasant, the artisan, as well as family meaningless, it’s either power, or it’s and local community. The factory was money, or it’s theft, or it’s cheating. The perceived as an archetype of an rich mock the homeless as vagabonds, economic regimentation hitherto but when they cut each other’s throats known only in barracks and prisons. themselves, it’s called business! The For some like Marx the factory was same action is given various names in oppressive. Yet potentially liberating. this place. Here workers learnt both collective SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 13 functioning as well as concerted VIII efforts for better conditions. WHY SHOULD WE STUDY THE Another indicator of the emergence of modern societies was the new BEGINNING AND GROWTH OF SOCIOLOGY IN EUROPE? significance of clock-time as a basis of social organisation. A crucial aspect of Most of the issues and concerns of this was the way in which, in the 18th sociology also date back to a time when and 19th centuries, the tempo of European society was undergoing agricultural and manufacturing tumultuous changes in the 18th and labour increasingly came to be set by 19th centuries with the advent of the clock and calendar in a way very capitalism and industrialisation. Many different from pre-modern forms of of the issues that were raised then, for work. Prior to the development of example, urbanisation or factory industrial capitalism, work-rhythms production, are pertinent to all modern were set by factors such as the period societies, even though their specific of daylight, the break between tasks features may vary. Indeed, Indian and the constraints of deadlines or society with its colonial past and incredible diversity is distinct. The other social duties. Factory production sociology of India reflects this. implied the synchronisation of labour — it began punctually, had a If this be so, why focus on Europe of that time? Why is it relevant to start steady pace and took place for set there? The answer is relatively simple. hours and on particular days of the For our past, as Indians is closely week. In addition, the clock injected a linked to the history of British new urgency to work. For both capitalism and colonialism. Capitalism employer and employee ‘time is now in the west entailed a world-wide money: it is not passed but spent.’ expansion. The passages in the box on next page represent but two strands in the manner that western capitalism Activity 5 impacted the world. Find out how work is organised in a R.K. Laxman’s travelogue of Mauritius traditional village, a factory and a brings home the presence of this call centre. colonial and global past. Here Africans and Chinese, Biharis and Dutch, Persians and Tamils, Activity 6 Arabs, French and English all rub Find out how industrial capitalism merrily with one another... A Tamil, changed Indian lives in villages and for instance, bears a deceptively cities. south Indian face and a name to go with it to boot; Radha Krishna 14 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Capitalism and its global but uneven transformation of societies Between the 17th and 19th centuries an estimated 24 million Africans were enslaved. 11 million of them survived the journey to the Americas in one of a number of great movements of population that feature in modern history. They were plucked from their existing homes and cultures, transported around the world in appalling conditions, and put to work in the service of capitalism. Enslavement is a graphic example of how people were caught up in the development of modernity against their will. The institution of slavery declined in the 1800s. But for us in India it was in the 1800s that indentured labour was taken in ships by the British for running their cotton and sugar plantations in distant lands such as Surinam in South America or in the West Indies or the Fiji Islands. V.S. Naipaul the great English writer who won the Nobel prize is a descendant of one of these thousands who were taken to lands they had never seen and who died without being able to return. Govindan is indeed from Madras. I India, the great workshop of cotton speak to him in Tamil. He surprises manufacture for the world, since me by responding in a frightfully immemorial times, now became mangled English with a heavy French innundated with English twists and accent. Mr Govindan has no cotton stuffs. After its own produce knowledge of Tamil and his tongue had been excluded from England, has ceased curling to produce Tamil or only admitted on the most cruel sounds centuries ago (Laxman 2003) ! terms, British manufactures were poured into it at a small and merely IX nominal duty, to the ruin of the native cotton fabrics once so THE GROWTH OF SOCIOLOGY IN INDIA celebrated (Marx 1853 cited in Colonialism was an essential part of Desai 1975). modern capitalism and industrialisation. The writings of Western sociologists on Sociology in India also had to deal with capitalism and other aspects of modern western writings and ideas about society are therefore relevant for Indian society that were not always understanding social change in India. correct. These ideas were expressed Yet as we saw with reference to both in the accounts of colonial officials urbanisation, colonialism implied that as well western scholars. For many of the impact of industrialisation in India them Indian society was a contrast to was not necessarily the same as in the western society. We take just one west. Karl Marx’s comments on the example here, the way the Indian impact of the East India Company bring village was understood and portrayed out the contrast. as unchanging. SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 15 In keeping with contemporary- characteristic feature of the two Victorian-evolutionary ideas, western subjects in many western countries. writers saw in the Indian village a Perhaps the very diversity of the remnant or survival from what was modern and traditional, of the village called “the infancy of society”. They saw and the metropolitan in India accounts in nineteenth-century India the past of for this. the European society. Yet another evidence of the colonial X heritage of countries like India is the T HE S COPE OF S OCIOLOGY AND ITS distinction often made between RE L A T I O N S H I P TO OTHER SO C I A L sociology and social anthropology. A standard western textbook definition of SCIENCE DISCIPLINES sociology is “the study of human The scope of sociological study is groups and societies, giving particular extremely wide. It can focus its analysis emphasis to the analysis of the of interactions between individuals industrialised world” (Giddens 2001: such as that of a shopkeeper with a 699). A standard western definition of customer, between teachers and social anthropology would be the study students, between two friends or family of simple societies of non-western and members. It can likewise focus on therefore “other” cultures. In India the national issues such as unemployment story is quite different. M.N. Srinivas or caste conflict or the effect of state maps the trajectory: policies on forest rights of the tribal population or rural indebtedness. Or In a country such as India, with its examine global social processes such size and diversity, regional, linguistic, religious, sectarian, ethnic (including as: the impact of new flexible labour caste), and between rural and urban regulations on the working class; or that areas, there are a myriad ‘others’... of the electronic media on the young; In a culture and society such as or the entry of foreign universities on India’s, ‘the other’ can be the education system of the country. encountered literally next door... What defines the discipline of sociology (Srinivas 1966: 205). is therefore not just what it studies (i.e. Furthermore social anthropology in family or trade unions or villages) but India moved gradually from a pre- how it studies a chosen field. occupation with the study of ‘primitive Sociology is one of a group of people’ to the study of peasants, ethnic social sciences, which also includes groups, social classes, aspects and anthropology, economics, political features of ancient civilisations, and science and history. The divisions modern industrial societies. No rigid among the various social sciences are divide exists between sociology and not clearcut, and all share a certain social anthropology in India, a range of common interests, concepts 16 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Discuss how you think history, sociology, political science, economics will study fashion/clothes, market places and city streets SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 17 and methods. It is therefore very important to understand that the Activity 7 distinctions of the disciplines are to ´ Do you think advertisements some extent arbitrary and should not actually influence people’s be seen in a straitjacket fashion. To consumption patterns? differentiate the social sciences would be to exaggerate the differences and ´ Do you think the idea of what defines ‘good life’ is only gloss over the similarities. Furthermore economically defined? feminist theories have also shown the greater need of interdisciplinary ´ Do you think ‘spending’ and ‘saving’ habits are culturally approach. For instance how would a formed? political scientist or economist study gender roles and their implications for politics or the economy without a context of social norms, values, practices sociology of the family or gender division of labour. and interests. The corporate sector managers are aware of this. The large Sociology and Economics investment in the advertisement industry is directly linked to the need to reshape Economics is the study of production lifestyles and consumption patterns. and distribution of goods and services. Trends within economics such as feminist The classical economic approach dealt economics seek to broaden the focus, almost exclusively with the inter - drawing in gender as a central relations of pure economic variables: organising principle of society. For the relations of price, demand and instance they would look at how work in supply; money flows; output and input the home is linked to productivity outside. ratios, and the like. The focus of The defined scope of economics has traditional economics has been on a helped in facilitating its development as narrow understanding of ‘economic a highly focused, coherent discipline. activity’, namely the allocation of scarce goods and services within a society. Sociologists often envy the economists Economists who are influenced by a for the precision of their terminology political economy approach seek to and the exactness of their measures. understand economic activity in a And the ability to translate the results broader framework of ownership of and of their theoretical work into practical relationship to means of production. suggestions having major implications The objective of the dominant trend in for public policy. Yet economists’ economic analysis was however to predictive abilities often suffer formulate precise laws of economic precisely because of their neglect of behaviour. individual behaviour, cultural norms The sociological approach looks and institutional resistance which at economic behaviour in a broader sociologists study. 18 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Pierre Bourdieu wrote in 1998. Sociology and Political Science A true economic science would look As in the case of economics, there is an at all the costs of the economy-not increased interaction of methods and only at the costs that corporations approaches between sociology and are concerned with, but also at political science. Conventional political crimes, suicides, and so on. science was focused primarily on two We need to put forward an elements: political theory and economics of happiness, which government administration. Neither would take note of all the profits, branch involves extensive contact with individual and collective, material political behaviour. The theory part and symbolic, associated with usually focuses on the ideas about activity (such as security), and also government from Plato to Marx while the material and symbolic costs courses on administration generally associated with inactivity or deal with the formal structure of precarious employment (for example consumption of medicines: France government rather than its actual holds the world record for the use operation. of tranquilisers), (cited in Swedberg Sociology is devoted to the study of 2003). all aspects of society, whereas conventional political science restricted Sociology unlike economics usually itself mainly to the study of power as does not provide technical solutions. embodied in formal organisation. But it encourages a questioning and Sociology stresses the inter-relation- critical perspective. This helps ships between sets of institutions questioning of basic assumptions. And including government, whereas thereby facilitates a discussion of not political science tends to turn attention just the technical means towards a towards the processes within the given goal, but also about the social government. desirability of a goal itself. Recent However, sociology long shared trends have seen a resurgence of similar interests of research with economic sociology perhaps because of both this wider and critical perspective Activity 8 of sociology. Sociology provides clearer or more Find out the kind of studies that adequate understanding of a social were conducted during the last situation than existed before. This can general elections. You will probably be either on the level of factual find both features of political science knowledge, or through gaining an and sociology in them. Discuss how improved grasp of why something is disciplines interact and mutually happening (in other words, by means influence each other. of theoretical understanding). SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 19 political science. Sociologists like Max history of less glamorous or exciting Weber worked in what can be termed events as changes in land relations or as political sociology. The focus of gender relations within the family have political sociology has been increasingly traditionally been less studied by on the actual study of political historians but formed the core area of behaviour. Even in the recent Indian the sociologist’s interest. Today elections one has seen the extensive however history is far more sociological study of political patterns of voting. and social history is the stuff of history. Studies have also been conducted in It looks at social patterns, gender membership of political organisations, relations, mores, customs and process of decision-making in important institutions other than the organisations, sociological reasons for acts of rulers, wars and monarchy. support of political parties, the role of gender in politics, etc. Sociology and Psychology Psychology is often defined as the Sociology and History science of behaviour. It involves itself Historians almost as a rule study the primarily with the individual. It is past, sociologists are more interested in interested in her/his intelligence and the contemporary or recent past. learning, motivations and memory, Historians earlier were content to nervous system and reaction time, delineate the actual events, to establish hopes and fears. Social psychology, how things actually happened, while in which serves as a bridge between sociology the focus was to seek to psychology and sociology, maintains a establish causal relationships. primary interest in the individual but History studies concrete details concerns itself with the way in which while the sociologist is more likely to the individual behaves in social groups, abstract from concrete reality, collectively with other individuals. categorise and generalise. Historians Sociology attempts to understand today are equally involved in doing behaviour as it is organised in society, sociological methods and concepts in that is the way in which personality is their analysis. shaped by different aspects of society. Conventional history has been For instance, economic and political about the history of kings and war. The system, their family and kinship structure, their culture, norms and values. It is interesting to recall that Activity 9 Durkheim who sought to establish a Find out how historians have clear scope and method for sociology written about the history of art, of in his well-known study of suicide left cricket, of clothes and fashion, of out individual intentions of those who architecture and housing styles. commit or try to commit suicide in favour of statistics concerning various 20 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY social characteristics of these between those who studied and those individuals. who were studied as not remarked upon too often earlier. But times have Sociology and Social Anthropology changed and we have the erstwhile ‘natives’ be they Indians or Sudanese, Anthropology in most countries Nagas or Santhals, who now speak incorporates archaeology, physical and write about their own societies. anthropology, cultural history, many branches of linguistics and the study The anthropologists of the past of all aspects of life in “simple documented the details of simple societies”. Our concern here is with societies apparently in a neutral social anthropology and cultural scientific fashion. In practice they were anthropology for it is that which is constantly comparing those societies close to the study of sociology. with the model of the western modern Sociology is deemed to be the study of societies as a benchmark. modern, complex societies while social Other changes have also redefined anthropology was deemed to be the the nature of sociology and social study of simple societies. anthropology. Modernity as we saw led As we saw earlier, each discipline to a process whereby the smallest has its own history or biography. village was impacted by global Social anthropology developed in the processes. The most obvious example west at a time when it meant that is colonialism. The most remote village western- trained social anthropologists of India under British colonialism saw studied non-European societies often its land laws and administration thought of as exotic, barbaric and change, its revenue extraction alter, its uncivilised. This unequal relationship manufacturing industries collapse. Tea pickers in Assam SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 21 Today the distinction between a Activity 10 simple society and a complex one itself ´ Find out where in India did needs major rethinking. India itself is a ancestors of the community of complex mix of tradition and Santhal workers who have been modernity, of the village and the city, working in the tea plantations in of caste and tribe, of class and Assam come from. community. Villages nestle right in the ´ When was tea cultivation heart of the capital city of Delhi. Call started in Assam? ´ Did the British drink tea before centres serve European and American colonialism? clients from different towns of the country. Indian sociology has been far more Contemporary global processes have eclectic in borrowing from both further accentuated this ‘shrinking of traditions. Indian sociologists often the globe’. The assumption of studying studied Indian societies that were both a simple society was that it was part of and not of one’s own culture. It bounded. We know this is not so today. could also be dealing with both The traditional study of simple, complex differentiated societies of non-literate societies by social urban modern India as well as the anthropology had a pervasive influence study of tribes in a holistic fashion. on the content and the subject matter of the discipline. Social anthropology It had been feared that with the tended to study society (simple decline of simple societies, social societies) in all their aspects, as wholes. anthropology would lose its specificity In so far as they specialised, it was on and merge with sociology. However the basis of area as for example the there have been fruitful interchanges Andaman Islands, the Nuers or between the two disciplines and today Melanesia. Sociologists study complex often methods and techniques are societies and would therefore often drawn from both. There have been focus on parts of society like the anthropological studies of the state and bureaucracy or religion or caste or a globalisation, which are very different process such as social mobility. from the traditional subject matter Social anthropology was charac- of social anthropology. On the terised by long field work tradition, other hand, sociology too has been living in the community studied and using quantitative and qualitative using ethnographic research methods. techniques, macro and micro Sociologists have often relied on survey approaches for studying the method and quantitative data using complexities of modern societies. As statistics and the questionnaire mode. mentioned before we will in a sense carry Chapter 5 will give you a more on this discussion in Chapter 5 . For in comprehensive account of these two India, sociology and social anthropology traditions. have had a very close relationship. 22 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY GLOSSARY Capitalism : A system of economic enterprise based on market exchange. “Capital” refers to any asset, including money, property and machines, which can be used to produce commodities for sale or invested in a market with the hope of achieving a profit. This system rests on the private ownership of assets and the means of production. Dialectic : The existence or action of opposing social forces, for instance, social constraint and individual will. Empirical Investigation : A factual enquiry carried out in any given area of sociological study. Feminist Theories : A sociological perspective which emphasises the centrality of gender in analysing the social world. There are many strands of feminist theory, but they all share in common the desire to explain gender inequalities in society and to work to overcome them. Macrosociology : The study of large-scale groups, organisations or social systems. Microsociology : The study of human behaviour in contexts of face-to-face interaction. Social Constraint : A term referring to the fact that the groups and societies of which we are a part exert a conditioning influence on our behaviour. Values : Ideas held by human individual or groups about what is desirable, proper, good or bad. Differing values represent key aspects of variations in human culture. EXERCISES 1. Why is the study of the origin and growth of sociology important? 2. Discuss the different aspects of the term ‘society’. How is it different from your common sense understanding? 3. Discuss how there is greater give and take among disciplines today. 4. Identify any personal problem that you or your friends or relatives are facing. Attempt a sociological understanding. SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY 23 READINGS BERGER , PETER L. 1963. Invitation to Sociology : A Humanistic Perspective. Penguin, Harmondsworth. BIERSTEDT, ROBERT. 1970. Social Order. Tata Mc. Graw-Hill Publishing Co. Ltd, Bombay. BOTTOMORE, TOM. 1962. Sociology : A Guide to Problems and Literature. George, Allen and Unwin, London. C HAUDHURI, M AITRAYEE . 2003. The Practice of Sociology. Orient Longman, New Delhi. DESAI, A.R. 1975. Social Background of Indian Nationalism, Popular Prakashan, Bombay. DUBE, S.C. 1977. Understanding Society : Sociology : The Discipline and its Significance : Part I. NCERT, New Delhi. FREEMAN, JAMES M. 1978. ‘Collecting the Life History of an Indian Untouchable’, from V ATUK, SYLVIA. ed., American Studies in the Anthropology of India. Manohar Publishers, Delhi. GIDDENS, ANTHONY. 2001. Sociology. Fourth Edition, Polity Press, Cambridge. INKELES, ALEX. 1964. What is Sociology? An Introduction to the Discipline and Profession. Prentice Hall, New Jersey. JAYARAM, N. 1987. Introductory Sociology. Macmillan India Ltd, Delhi. LAXMAN, R.K. 2003. The Distorted Mirror. Penguin, Delhi. MILLS, C. WRIGHT. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. Penguin, Harmondsworth. SINGH , YOGENDRA . 2004. Ideology and Theory in Indian Sociology. Rawat Publications, New Delhi. SRINIVAS, M.N. 2002. Village, Caste. Gender and Method : Essays in Indian Social Anthropology. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. SWEDBERG, RICHARD. 2003. Principles of Economic Sociology. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford. 24 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY CHAPTER 2 TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY terms and concepts to understand this. I Why does sociology need to have a special set of terms when we use terms INTRODUCTION like status and roles or social control The previous chapter introduced us to anyway in our everyday life? an idea both about society as well as For a discipline such as, say, sociology. We saw that a central task of nuclear physics that deals with matters sociology is to explore the interplay of unknown to most people and for which society and the individual. We also saw no word exists in common speech, it that individuals do not float freely in seems obvious that a discipline must society but are part of collective bodies develop a terminology. However, like the family, tribe, caste, class, clan, terminology is possibly even more nation. In this chapter, we move further important for sociology, just because its subject matter is familiar and just to understand the kinds of groups because words do exist to denote it. We individuals form, the kinds of unequal are so well acquainted with the social orders, stratification systems within institutions that surround us that we which, individuals and groups are cannot see them clearly and precisely placed, the way social control operates, (Berger 1976:25). the roles that individuals have and play, For example we may feel that since and the status they occupy. we live in families we know all about In other words we start exploring families. This would be conflating or how society itself functions. Is it equating sociological knowledge harmonious or conflict ridden? Are with common sense knowledge or status and roles fixed? How is social naturalistic explanation, which we have control exercised? What kinds of discussed in Chapter 1. inequalities exist? The question however We also found in the previous remains as to why do we need specific chapter how sociology as a discipline TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 25 has a biography or history. We saw how essentially harmonious. They found it certain material and intellectual useful to compare society to an developments shaped the sociological organism where different parts have a perspective as well as its concerns. function to play for the maintenance of Likewise sociological concepts too have the whole. Others, in particular the a story to tell. Many of the concepts conflict theorists influenced by Marxism reflect the concern of social thinkers to saw society as essentially conflict understand and map the social ridden. changes that the shift from pre-modern Within sociology some tried to to modern entailed. For instance understand human behaviour by sociologists observed that simple, small starting with the individual, i.e. micro scale and traditional societies were interaction. Others began with macro more marked by close, often face-to- structures such as class, caste, market, face interaction. And modern, large state or even community. Concepts scale societies by formal interaction. such as status and role begin with the They therefore distinguished primary individual. Concepts such as social from secondary groups, community control or stratification begin from a from society or association. Other larger context within which individuals concepts like stratification reflect the are already placed. concern that sociologists had in The important point is that these understanding the structured classifications and types that we inequalities between groups in society. discuss in sociology help us and are the Concepts arise in society. However tools through which we can just as there are different kinds of understand reality. They are keys to individuals and groups in society so open locks to understand society. They there are different kinds of concepts and are entry points in our understanding, ideas. And sociology itself is marked by not the final answer. But what if the key different ways of understanding society becomes rusted or bent or does not fit and looking at dramatic social changes the lock, or fits in with effort? In such that the modern period brought about. situations we need to change or modify We have seen how even in the early the key. In sociology we both use and stage of sociology’s emergence there also constantly interrogate or question were contrary and contesting the concepts and categories. understandings of society. If for Karl Very often there is considerable Marx class and conflict were key unease about the coexistence of concepts to understand society, social different kinds of definitions or concepts solidarity and collective conscience or even just different views about the were key terms for Emile Durkheim. In same social entity. For example conflict the Post-World War II period sociology theory versus the functionalist theory. was greatly influenced by the structural This multiplicity of approaches is functionalists who found society particularly acute in sociology. And it 26 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY cannot but be otherwise. For society II itself is diverse. SOCIAL GROUPS AND SOCIETY Activity 1 Sociology is the study of human social Choose any one of the following life. A defining feature of human life is topics for class discussion : that humans interact, communicate ´ democracy is a help or hind- and construct social collectivities. The rance to development comparative and historical perspective of sociology brings home two appa- ´ gender equality makes for a rently innocuous facts. The first that in more harmonious or more divisive society every society whether ancient or feudal or modern, Asian or European or ´ punishments or greater dis- African human groups and collectivities cussion are the best way to exist. The second that the types of resolve conflicts. groups and collectivities are different in Think of other topics. different societies. What kind of differences emerged? Any gathering of people does not Do they reflect different visions of necessarily constitute a social group. what a good society ought to be like? Aggregates are simply collections of Do they reflect different notions of people who are in the same place at the the human being? same time, but share no definite connection with one another. In our discussion on the various Passengers waiting at a railway station terms you will notice how there is or airport or bus stop or a cinema divergence of views. And how this very audience are examples of aggregates. debate and discussion of differences Such aggregates are often termed as helps us understand society. quasi groups. What kind of groups are these? TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 27 A quasi group is an aggregate or attention to how social groups emerge, combination, which lacks structure or change and get modified. organisation, and whose members A social group can be said to have may be unaware, or less aware, of the at least the following characteristics : existence of groupings. Social classes, (i) persistent interaction to provide status groups, age and gender groups, continuity; crowds can be seen as examples of (ii) a stable pattern of these inter- quasi groups. As these examples actions; suggest quasi groups may well (iii) a sense of belonging to identify become social groups in time and in with other members, i.e. each specific circumstances. For example, individual is conscious of the individuals belonging to a particular group itself and its own set of social class or caste or community may rules, rituals and symbols; not be organised as a collective body. They may be yet to be infused with a (iv) shared interest; sense of “we” feeling. But class and (v) acceptance of common norms and caste have over a period of time given values; rise to political parties. Likewise (vi) a definable structure. people of different communities in Social structure here refers to India have over the long anti-colonial patterns of regular and repetitive struggle developed an identity as a interaction between individuals or collectivity and group — a nation with groups. A social group thus refers to a a shared past and a common future. collection of continuously interacting The women’s movement brought about persons who share common interest, the idea of women’s groups and culture, values and norms within a organisation. All these examples draw given society. Activity 2 Find out a name that is relevant under each heading. Caste An anti caste movement A caste based political party Class A class based movement A class based political party Women A women’s movement A women’s organisation Tribe A tribal movement A tribe/tribes based political party Villagers An environmental movement An environmental organisation Discuss whether they were all social groups to start with and if some were not, then at what point can one apply the term social group to them, using the term as sociologically understood. 28 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Activity 3 Discuss the age group of teenagers. Is it a quasi group or social group? Were ideas about ‘teenage’ and ‘teenagers’ as a special phase in life always there? In traditional societies how was the entry of children into adulthood marked? In contemporary times do marketing strategies and advertisement have anything to do with the strengthening or weakening of this group/quasi group? Identify an advertisement that targets teenagers or pre-teens? Read the section on stratification and discuss how teenage may mean very different life experiences for the poor and rich, for the upper and lower class, for the discriminated and privileged caste. TYPES OF GROUPS However a complete contrast is As you read through this section on probably not an accurate description of reality. groups you will find that different sociologists and social anthropologists Primary and Secondary have categorised groups into different Social Groups types. What you will be struck with however is that there is a pattern in the The groups to which we belong are not typology. In most cases they contrast all of equal importance to us. Some the manner in which people form groups tend to influence many aspects groups in traditional and small scale of our lives and bring us into personal societies to that of modern and large association with others. The term scale societies. As mentioned earlier, primary group is used to refer to a they were struck by the difference small group of people connected by between close, intimate, face-to-face intimate and face-to-face association interaction in traditional societies and and co-operation. The members of impersonal, detached, distant primary groups have a sense of interaction in modern societies. belonging. Family, village and groups Contrast the two types of group TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 29 of friends are examples of primary groups. Activity 4 Secondary groups are relatively Collect a copy of a memorandum of large in size, maintain formal and any association that you know of or impersonal relationships. The primary can find out about for example a groups are person-oriented, whereas Resident Welfare Association, a the secondary groups are goal oriented. women’s association (Mahila Schools, government offices, hospitals, Samiti), a Sports Club. You will find students’ association etc. are examples of secondary groups. clear information about its goals, objectives, membership and other Community and Society rules that govern it. Contrast this or Association with a large family gathering. The idea of comparing and contrasting You may find that many a times the old traditional and agrarian way of that interaction among members of life with the new modern and urban one a formal group over time becomes in terms of their different and more close and ‘just like family and contrasting social relationships and friends.’ This brings home the point lifestyles, dates back to the writings of that concepts are not fixed, frozen classical sociologists. entities. They are indeed keys or The term ‘community’ refers to tools for understanding society and human relationships that are highly its changes. personal, intimate and enduring, those where a person’s involvement is considerable if not total, as in the family, with real friends or a close-knit In-Groups and Out-Groups group. A sense of belonging marks an in- ‘Society’ or ‘association’ refers to group. This feeling separates ‘us’ or ‘we’ everything opposite of ‘community’, in from ‘them’ or ‘they’. Children particular the apparently impersonal, belonging to a particular school may superficial and transitory relationships form an ‘in-group’ as against those who of modern urban life. Commerce and do not belong to the school. Can you industry require a more calculating, think of other such groups? rational and self-interesting approach An out-group on the other hand is to one’s dealings with others. We make one to which the members of an in- contracts or agreements rather than group do not belong. The members of getting to know one another. You may an out-group can face hostile reactions draw a parallel between the community from the members of the in-group. with the primary group and the Migrants are often considered as an association with the secondary group. out-group. However, even here the 30 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY actual definition of who belongs and but we do identify ourselves with that who does not, changes with time and group. Reference groups are social contexts. important sources of information The well known sociologist M.N. about culture, life style, aspiration Srinivas observed while he was carrying and goal attainments. out a census in Rampura in 1948 how In the colonial period many middle distinctions were made between recent class Indians aspired to behave like and later migrants. He writes: proper Englishman. In that sense they could be seen as a reference group for I heard villagers use two expressions the aspiring section. But this process which I came to realise were was gendered, i.e. it had different significant: the recent immigrants implications for men and women. Often were almost contemptuously des- Indian men wanted to dress and dine cribed as nenne monne’ bandavartu (‘came yesterday or the day before;) like the British men but wanted the while old immigrants were des- Indian women to remain ‘Indian’ in cribed as arsheyinda bandavaru their ways. Or aspire to be a bit like the (‘came long ago’) or khadeem proper English woman but also not kulagalu (‘old lineages’), (Srinivas quite like her. Do you still find this valid 1996:33). today? Activity 5 Peer Groups This is a kind of primary group, Find out about the experience of usually formed between individuals immigrants in other countries. Or who are either of similar age or who are may be even from different parts of in a common professional group. Peer our own country. pressure refers to the social pressure You will find that relationships exerted by one’s peers on what one between groups change and modify. ought to do or not. People once considered members of an out-group become in-group members. Can you find out about Activity 6 such processes in history? Do your friends or others of your age group influence you? Are you Reference Group concerned with their approval or disapproval about the way you For any group of people there are dress, behave, the kind of music always other groups whom they look you like to listen to or the kind of up to and aspire to be like. The groups whose life styles are emulated films you prefer? Do you consider are known as reference groups. We do it to be social pressure? Discuss. not belong to our reference groups TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 31 SOCIAL STRATIFICATION enter into details about estates here but very briefly touch upon caste and class Social stratification refers to the as systems of social stratification. We existence of structured inequalities shall be dealing in greater detail with between groups in society, in terms of class, caste, gender as bases of social their access to material or symbolic stratification in the book, Under- rewards. Thus stratification can most standing Society (NCERT, 2006). simply be defined as structural inequalities between different Caste groupings of people. Often social stratification is compared to the In a caste stratification system an geological layering of rock in the earth’s individual’s position totally depends on surface. Society can be seen as the status attributes ascribed by birth consisting of ‘strata’ in a hierarchy, with rather than on any which are achieved the more favoured at the top and the during the course of one’s life. This is less privileged near the bottom. not to say that in a class society there Inequality of power and advantage is no systematic constraint on is central for sociology, because of the achievement imposed by status crucial place of stratification in the attributes such as race and gender. organisation of society. Every aspect of However, status attributes ascribed by the life of every individual and house- birth in a caste society define an hold is affected by stratification. individual’s position more completely Opportunities for health, longevity, than they do in class society. security, educational success, fulfillment In traditional India different castes in work and political influence are all formed a hierarchy of social precedence. unequally distributed in systematic ways. Each position in the caste structure was Historically four basic systems of defined in terms of its purity or stratification have existed in human pollution relative to others. The societies: slavery, caste, estate and underlying belief was that those who class. Slavery is an extreme form of are most pure, the Brahmin priestly inequality in which some individuals castes, are superior to all others and are literally owned by others. It has the Panchamas, sometimes called the existed sporadically at many times and ‘outcastes’ are inferior to all other places, but there are two major castes. The traditional system is examples of a system of slavery; ancient generally conceptualised in terms of the Greece and Rome and the Southern four fold varna of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, States of the USA in the 18th and 19th Vaishyas and Shudras. In reality there are centuries. As a formal institution, innumerable occupation-based caste slavery has gradually been eradicated. groups, called jatis. But we do continue to have bonded The caste system in India has labour, often even of children. Estates undergone considerable changes over characterised feudal Europe. We do not the years. Endogamy and ritual 32 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY avoidance of contact with members of with us. This is because they feel so-called lower castes were considered and believe they are superior. It has critical for maintaining purity by the so- been like that for years. No matter called upper castes. Changes brought how well we dress they are not in by urbanisation inevitably prepared to accept certain things challenged this. Read well known (Franco et. al. 2004:150). sociologist A.R. Desai’s observations below. Even today acute caste Other social consequences of discrimination exists. At the same time urbanisation in India are commented the working of democracy has affected upon by sociologist A.R. Desai as: the caste system. Castes as interest groups have gained strength. We have Modern industries brought into also seen discriminated castes asserting b e i n g modern cities honey- their democratic rights in society. combed with cosmopolitan hotels, restaurants, theatres, trams, Class buses, railways. The modest hotels There have been many attempts to and restaurants catered for the explain class. We mention here, very workers and middle classes became briefly just the central ideas of Marx, crowded in cities with persons Weber and that of, functionalism. In belonging to all castes and even the Marxist theory social classes are creeds... In trains and buses one defined by what relation they have to occasionally rubbed shoulders with the means of production. Questions members of the depressed classes... could be asked as to whether groups should not, however be supposed are owners of means of production such that caste had vanished (Desai as land or factories? Or whether they 1975:248). are owners of nothing but their own labour? Weber used the term life- While change did take place, chances, which refers to the rewards discrimination was not so easy to do and advantages afforded by market away with, as a first person narrative capacity. Inequality, Weber argued suggests. might be based on economic relations. In the mill there may be no open But it could also be based on prestige discrimination of the kind that exists or on political power. in the villages, but experience of private The functionalist theory of social interactions tells another story. Parmar stratification begins from the general observed… presupposition or belief of function- alism that no society is “classless” or They will not even drink water from unstratified. The main functional our hands and they sometimes use necessity explains the universal abusive language when dealing presence of social stratification in TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 33 requirements faced by a society Tribes population lives below the of placing and motivating individuals poverty line. This proportion is only in the social structure. Social slightly less for the Schedule Castes at inequality or stratification is thus an about 43 per cent, and lesser still for unconsciously evolved device by which the Other Backward Classes at about societies ensure that the most 34 per cent (Deshpande 2003:114). important positions are deliberately filled by the most qualified persons. Is Status and Role this true? The two concepts ‘status’ and ‘role’ are In a traditional caste system social often seen as twin concepts. A status is hierarchy is fixed, rigid and transmitted simply a position in society or in a across generations in these societies. group. Every society and every group Modern class system in contrast is has many such positions and every open and achievement based. In individual occupies many such democratic societies there is nothing to positions. legally stop a person from the most Status thus refers to the social deprived class and caste from reaching position with defined rights and duties the highest position. assigned to these positions. To illustrate, the mother occupies a status, Activity 7 which has many norms of conduct as well as certain responsibilities and Find out more about the life of prerogatives. the late President K. R. Naraynan. A role is the dynamic or the Discuss the concept of ascription behavioural aspect of status. Status is and achieved status, caste and occupied, but roles are played. We may class in this context. say that a status is an institutionalised role. It is a role that has become Such stories of achievement do exist regularised, standardised and forma- and are sources of immense inspiration. lised in the society at large or in any of Yet for the most part the structure of the specific associations of society. the class system persists. Sociological It must be apparent that each studies of social mobility, even in individual in a modern, complex society western societies are far removed from such as ours occupies many different the ideal model of perfect mobility. kinds of status during the course of Sociology has to be sensitive to both the his/her life. You as a school student challenges to the caste system as well may be a student to your teacher, a as the persistence of discrimination. customer to your grocer, a passenger Significantly those, at the lower levels to the bus driver, a brother or sister to of the system are not just disadvantaged your sibling, a patient to the doctor. socially but also economically. In rural Needless to say we could keep adding India, more than half of the Schedule to the list. The smaller and simpler the 34 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY society, the fewer the kinds of status position, rather than to the person who that an individual can have. occupies it or to his/her performance In a modern society an individual or to his/her actions. The kind of value as we saw occupies multiple status attached to the status or to the office is which is sociologically termed as status called prestige. People can rank status set. Individuals acquire different status in terms of their high or low prestige. at various stages of life. A son becomes The prestige of a doctor may be high in a father, father becomes a grandfather comparison to a shopkeeper, even if the and then great grandfather and so on. doctor may earn less. It is important This is called a status sequence for it to keep in mind that ideas of what refers to the status, which is attained occupation is considered prestigious in succession or sequence at the varies across societies and across various stages of life. periods. An ascribed status is a social position, which a person occupies because of birth, or assumes Activity 8 involuntarily. The most common bases What kinds of jobs are consi- for ascribed status are age, caste, race dered prestigious in your society? and kinship. Simple and traditional Compare these with your friends. societies are marked by ascribed status. Discuss the similarities and An achieved status on the other hand differences. Try and understand the refers to a social position that a person causes for the same. occupies voluntarily by personal ability, achievements, virtues and choices. The most common bases for People perform their roles according achieved status are educational to social expectations, i.e. role taking qualifications, income, and professional and role playing. A child learns to expertise. Modern societies are behave in accordance with how her characterised by achievements. Its behaviour will be seen and judged by members are accorded prestige on the others. basis of their achievements. How often Role conflict is the incompatibility you would have heard the phrase “you among roles corresponding to one or have to prove yourself”. In traditional more status. It occurs when contrary societies your status was defined and expectations arise from two or more ascribed at birth. However, as roles. A common example is that of the discussed above, even in modern achievement based societies, ascribed Activity 9 status matters. Status and prestige are Find out how a domestic worker or interconnected terms. Every status is a construction labourer faces role accorded certain rights and values. conflict. Values are attached to the social TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 35 middle class working woman who has is mistaken. It suggests that to juggle her role as mother and wife individuals simply take on roles, rather at home and that of a professional at than creating or negotiating them. In work. fact, socialisation is a process in which It is a common place assumption humans can exercise agency; they are that men do not face role conflict. not simply passive subjects waiting to Sociology being both an empirical and be instructed or programmed. comparative discipline suggests Individuals come to understand and otherwise. assume social roles through an ongoing process of social interaction. This Khasi matriliny generates intense discussion perhaps will make you role conflict for men. They are torn reflect upon the relationship between between their responsibilities to the individual and society, which we their natal house on the one hand had studied in Chapter 1. and to their wife and children on Roles and status are not given and the other. T hey feel deprived of sufficient authority to command fixed. People make efforts to fight their children’s loyalty and lack the against discrimination roles and status freedom to pass on after death, even for example those based on caste or their self-acquired property to their race or gender. At the same time there children… are sections in society who oppose such The strain affects Khasi women, in changes. Likewise individual violation a way more intensely. A woman can of roles are often punished. Society thus never be fully assured that her functions not just with roles and status husband does not find his sister’s but also with social control. house more congenial place than her own house (Nongbri 2003:190). Activity 10 Role stereotyping is a process of Collect newspaper reports where reinforcing some specific role for some member of the society. For example dominant sections of society seek to men and women are often socialised in impose control and punish those stereotypical roles, as breadwinner and whom they consider to have homemaker respectively. Social roles transgressed or violated socially and status are often wrongly seen as prescribed roles. fixed and unchanging. It is felt that individuals learn the expectations that SOCIETY AND SOCIAL CONTROL surround social positions in their particular culture and perform these Social control is one of the most roles largely as they have been defined. generally used concepts in sociology. Through socialisation, individuals It refers to the various means used by internalise social roles and learn how a society to bring its recalcitrant or to carry them out. This view, however, unruly members back into line. 36 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY You will recall how sociology has groups on the one hand, and on the different perspectives and debates other, to mitigate tensions and conflicts about the meaning of concepts. You among individuals and groups to will also recall how functionalist maintain social order and social sociologists understood society as cohesion. In this way social control is essentially harmonious and conflict seen as necessary to stability in society. theorists saw society as essentially Conflict theorists usually would see unequal, unjust and exploitative. We social control more as a mechanism to also saw how some sociologists impose the social control of dominant focussed more on the individual and social classes on the rest of society. society, others on collectivities like Stability would be seen as the writ of classes, races, castes. one section over the other. Likewise law For a functionalist perspective social would be seen as the formal writ of the control refers to: (i) the use of force to powerful and their interests on society. regulate the behaviour of the individual Social control refers to the social and groups and also refers to the (ii) process, techniques and strategies by enforcing of values and patterns for which the behaviours of individual or maintaining order in society. Social a group are regulated. It refers both to control here is directed to restrain the use of force to regulate the deviant behaviour of individuals or behaviour of the individual and groups The ultimate and, no doubt, the oldest means of social control is physical violence... even in the politely operated societies of modern democracies the ultimate argument is violence. No state can exist without a police force or its equivalent in armed might... In any functioning society violence is used economically and as a last resort, with the mere threat of this ultimate violence sufficing for the day-to-day exercise of social control... Where human beings live or work in compact groups, in which they are personally known and to which they are tied by feelings of personal loyalty (the kind that sociologists call primary groups), very potent and simultaneously very subtle mechanisms of control are constantly brought to bear upon the actual or potent deviant... One aspect of social control that ought to be stressed is the fact that it is frequently based on fraudulent claims... A little boy can exercise considerable control over his peer group by having a big brother who, if need be, can be called upon to beat up any opponents. In the absence of such a brother, however it is possible to invent one. It will then be a question of the public-relations talents of the little boy as to whether he will succeed in translating his invention into actual control (Berger 84-90). Have you ever seen or heard a young child threaten another with “ I will tell my elder brother.” Can you think of other examples? TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 37 and also refers to the enforcing of values and patterns for maintaining order in Activity 11 society. Social control may be informal or Can you think of examples drawn formal. When the codified, systematic, from your life how this ‘unofficial’ and other formal mechanism of control social control operates? Have you in is used, it is known as formal social class or in your peer group noticed control. There are agencies and how a child who behaves a bit mechanism of formal social control, for differently from the rest is treated? example, law and state. In a modern Have you witnessed incidents where society formal mechanisms and children are bullied by their peer agencies of social control are group to be more like the other emphasised. children? In every society there is another type of social control that is known as informal social control. It is personal, newspaper report which is given below unofficial and uncodified. They include and identify the different agencies of smiles, making faces, body language social control involved. frowns, criticism, ridicule, laughter etc. A sanction is a mode of reward or There can be great variations in their punishment that reinforces socially use within the same society. In day- expected forms of behaviour. Social to-day life they are quite effective. control can be positive or negative. However, in some cases informal Members of societies can be rewarded methods of social control may not be for good and expected behaviour. On adequate in enforcing conformity or the other hand, negative sanctions are obedience. There are various agencies also used to enforce rules and to of informal social control e.g. family, restrain deviance. religion, kinship, etc. Have you heard Deviance refers to modes of action, about honour killing? Read the which do not conform to the norms or Man kills sister for marrying from outside the caste ... The elder brother of a 19-year-old girl here carried out an apparent ‘honour killing’ by allegedly beheading her while she was asleep at a hospital ... police said on Monday. The girl... was undergoing treatment at ... Hospital for stab wounds after her brother... attacked her on December 16 for marrying outside the caste, they said. She and her lover eloped on December 10 and returned to their houses here on December 16 after getting married, which was opposed by her parents, they said. The Panchayat also tried to pressurise the couple but they refused to be swayed. 38 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY values held by most of the members of be considered deviant at one time, and a group or society. What is regarded as be applauded at another time even in ‘deviant’ is as widely variable as the the same society. You are already norms and values that distinguish familiar with how sociology is different different cultures and subcultures. from common sense. The specific Likewise ideas of deviance are terms and concepts discussed in this challenged and change from one period chapter will help you further to move to another. For example, a woman towards a sociological understanding choosing to become an astronaut may of society. GLOSSARY Conflict Theories : A sociological perspective that focuses on the tensions, divisions and competing interests present in human societies. Conflict theorists believe that the scarcity and value of resources in society produces conflict as groups struggle to gain access to and control those resources. Many conflict theorists have been strongly influenced by the writings of Marx. Functionalism : A theoretical perspective based on the notion that social events can best be explained in terms of the function they perform — that is the contribution they make to the continuity of a society. And on a view of society as a complex system whose various parts work in relationship to each other in a way that needs to be understood. Identity : The distinctive characteristic of a person’s character or the character of a group which relate to who they are and what is meaningful to them. Some of the main sources of identity include gender, nationality or ethnicity, social class. Means of Production : The means whereby the production of material goods is carried on in a society, including not just technology but the social relations between producers. Microsociology and Macrosociology : The study of everyday behaviour in situations of face-to-face interaction is usually called microsociology. In microsociology, analysis occurs at the level of individuals or small groups. It differs from macrosociology, which concerns itself with large-scale social systems, like the political system or the economic order. Though they appear to be distinct, they are closely connected. Natal : It relates to the place or time of one’s birth. R Norms : Rules of behaviour which reflect or embody a culture’s values, either prescribing a given type of behaviour, or forbidding it. Norms are always TERMS, CONCEPTS AND THEIR USE IN SOCIOLOGY 39 backed by sanctions of one kind or another, varying from informal disapproval to physical punishment or execution. Sanctions : A mode of reward or punishment that reinforce socially expected forms of behaviour. EXERCISES 1. Why do we need to use special terms and concepts in sociology? 2. As a member of society you must be interacting with and in different groups. How do you see these groups from a sociological perspective? 3. What have you observed about the stratification system existing in your society? How are individual lives affected by stratification? 4. What is social control? Do you think the modes of social control in different spheres of society are different? Discuss. 5. Identify the different roles and status that you play and are located in. Do you think roles and status change? Discuss when and how they change. READINGS BERGER, L. PETER. 1976. Invitation to Sociology : A Humanistic Perspective. Penguin, Harmondsworth. BOTTOMORE, TOM. and ROBER T, NISBET. 1978. A History of Sociological Analysis. Basic Books, New York. BOTTOMORE, TOM. 1972. Sociology. Vintage Books, New York. DESHPANDE, SATISH. 2003. Contemporary India : A Sociological View. Viking, Delhi. FERNANDO, FRANCO. MACWAN, JYOTSNA. and RAMANATHAN, SUGUNA. 2004. Journeys to Freedom Dalit Narratives. Samya, Kolkata. GIDDENS, ANTHONY. 2001. Sociology. Fourth Edition. Polity Press, Cambridge. JAYARAM, N. 1987. Introductory Sociology. Macmillan India Ltd, Delhi. NONGBRI, TIPLUT. 2003. ‘Gender and the Khasi Family Structure : The Meghalaya Succession to Self-Acquired Property Act’, 1984, in ed. REGE, SHARMILA. Sociology of Gender The Challenge of Feminist Sociological Knowledge, pp.182-194. Sage Publications, New Delhi. SRINIVAS, M.N. 1996. Village, Caste, Gender and Method. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. 40 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY CHAPTER 3 UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS I least acknowledged by law or by custom. And whose regular and INTRODUCTION continuous operation cannot be understood without taking those rules This book began with a discussion into account. Institutions impose about the interaction of the individual constraints on individuals. They also and society. We saw that each of us as provide him/her with opportunities. individuals, occupies a place or An institution can also be viewed as location in society. Each one of us has an end in itself. Indeed people have a status and a role or roles, but these viewed the family, religion, state or even are not simply what we as individuals education as an end in itself. choose. They are not like roles a film actor may or may not opt to do. There Activity 1 are social institutions that constrain and control, punish and reward. They could Think of examples of how people be ‘macro’ social institutions like the sacrifice for the family, for religion, state or ‘micro’ ones like the family. for the state. Here in this chapter we are introduced to social institutions, and also to how We have already seen that there sociology/social anthropology studies are conflicting and different them. This chapter puts forth a very understandings of concepts within brief idea of some of the central areas sociology. We have also been introduced where important social institutions are to the functionalist and conflict located namely: (i) family, marriage and perspective, and seen how differently kinship; (ii) politics; (iii) economics; they saw the same thing, for instance (iv) religion; and (v) education. stratification or social control. Not In the broadest sense, an surprisingly, therefore, there are institution is something that works different forms of understanding of according to rules established or at social institutions as well. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 41 A functionalist view understands II social institutions as a complex set of social norms, beliefs, values and role FAMILY, MARRIAGE AND KINSHIP relationship that arise in response to Perhaps no other social entity appears the needs of society. Social institutions more ‘natural’ than the family. Often we exist to satisfy social needs. Accordingly are prone to assume that all families are we find informal and formal social like the ones we live in. No other social institutions in societies. Institutions institution appears more universal and such as family and religion are unchanging. Sociology and social examples of informal social institutions anthropology have over many decades while law and (formal) education are conducted field research across formal social institutions. cultures to show how the institutions of family, marriage and kinship are A conflict view holds that all important in all societies and yet their individuals are not placed equally in character is different in different society. All social institutions whether societies. They have also shown how the familial, religious, political, economic, family (the private sphere) is linked to legal or educational will operate in the the economic, political, cultural, interest of the dominant sections of educational (the public) spheres. This society be it class, caste, tribe or gender. may remind you of why there is a need The dominant social section not only to share and borrow from different dominates political and economic disciplines, which we have discussed in Chapter 1. institutions but also ensures that the According to the functionalists the ruling class ideas become the ruling family performs important tasks, which ideas of a society. This is very different contribute to society’s basic needs and from the idea that there are general helps perpetuate social order. The needs of a society. functionalist perspective argues that As you go about reading this modern industrial societies function chapter, see whether you can think best if women look after the family and of examples to show how social men earn the family livelihood. In India studies however suggest that families institutions constrain and also offer need not become nuclear in an opportunities to individuals. Notice industrial pattern of economy (Singh whether they impact different sections 1993: 83). This is but one example to of society unequally. For instance, we show how trends based on experiences could ask, “How does the family of one society cannot necessarily be constrain as well provide opportunities generalised. to men and women?” Or “How do The nuclear family is seen as the political or legal institutions affect the unit best equipped to handle the privileged and dispossessed?” demands of industrial society by the 42 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY functionalists. In such a family one families have always existed in India adult can work outside the home while particularly among the deprived castes the second adult cares for the home and and classes. children. In practical terms, this The sociologist A.M. Shah remarks specialisation of roles within the that in post-independent India the nuclear family involves the husband joint family has steadily increased. adopting the ‘instrumental’ role as The contributing factor is the breadwinner, and the wife assuming increasing life expectancy in India the ‘affective’, emotional role in domestic according to him. It has increased settings (Giddens 2001). This vision is from 32.5 - 55.4 years for men and questionable not just because it is from 31.7 - 55.7 years for women gender unjust but because empirical during the period 1941 - 50 to 1981 - 85. Consequently, the studies across cultures and history proportion of aged people (60 years show that it is untrue. Indeed, as you and above) in the total population will see in the discussion on work and has increased. “We have to ask” economy how in contemporary writes Shah — “in what kind of industries like the garment export, household do these elderly people women form a large part of the labour live? I submit, most of them live in force. Such a separation also suggests joint household” (Shah; 1998). that men are necessarily the heads of This again is a broad generalisation. households. This is not necessarily true But in the spirit of the sociological as the box which is given below shows. perspective, it cautions us against blindly believing a common sense Variation in Family Forms impression that the joint family is fast A central debate in India has been eroding. And alerts us to the need for about the shift from nuclear family to careful comparative and empirical joint families. We have already seen how studies. sociology questions common sense Studies have shown how diverse impressions. The fact is that nuclear family forms are found in different Female headed households When men migrate to urban areas, women have to plough and manage the agricultural fields. Many a time they become the sole providers of their families. Such households are known as female headed households. Widowhood too might create such familial arrangement. Or it may happen when men get re- married and stop sending remittance to their wives, children and other dependents. In such a situation, women have to ensure the maintenance of the family. Among the Kolams, a tribal community in south-eastern Maharashtra and northern Andhra Pradesh, a female headed household is an accepted norm. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 43 societies. With regard to the rule of Families are Linked to other Social residence, some societies are matrilocal Spheres and Families Change in their marriage and family customs Often in our everyday life we look at while others are patrilocal. In the first case, the newly married couple stays the family as distinct and separate from with the woman’s parents, whereas in other spheres such as the economic or the second case the couple lives with political. However, as you will see for the man’s parents. A patriarchal family yourself the family, the household, its structure exists where the men structure and norms are closely linked exercise authority and dominance, and to the rest of society. An interesting matriarchy where the women play a example is that of the unintended major role in decision-making in the consequences of the German uni- family. While matrilineal societies exist, fication. During the post-unification the same cannot be claimed about period in the 1990s Germany matriarchal societies. witnessed a rapid decline in marriage Notice how families and residences are different Work and Home 44 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY because the new German state the female child will leave on marriage withdrew all the protection and welfare results in families investing more in a schemes which were provided to the male child. Despite the biological fact families prior to the unification. With that a female baby has better chances growing sense of economic insecurity of survival than a male baby the rate of people responded by refusing to marry. infant mortality among female children This can also be understood as a is higher in comparison to male case of unintended consequence children in lower age group in India. (Chapter 1). Family and kinship are thus The Institution of Marriage subject to change and transformation Historically marriage has been found due to macro economic processes but to exist in a wide variety of forms in the direction of change need not always be similar for all countries and regions. Activity 2 Moreover, change does not mean the A Telegu expression states: complete erosion of previous norms and ‘Bring-ing up a daughter is like structure. Change and continuity watering a plant in another’s co-exist. courtyard’. Find out other such How gendered is the family? sayings that are contrary. Discuss how popular sayings reflect the The belief is that the male child will social arrangement of a society, support the parents in the old age and Sex Ratio in India between 1901-2001 Year Sex Ratio Year Sex Ratio 1901 972 1951 946 1911 964 1961 941 1921 955 1971 930 1931 950 1981 934 1941 945 1991 926 2001 (927)* * In 2001 the sex ratio of girls in 0-6 group was enumerated as 927 The incidence of female foeticide has led to a sudden decline in the sex ratio. The child sex ratio has declined from 934 per thousand males in 1991 to 927 in 2001. The percentage of decline in the child sex ratio is more alarming. The situation of prosperous states like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and western Utter Pradesh is all the more grave. In Punjab the child sex ratio has declined to 793 girls per 1,000 boys. In some of the districts of Punjab and Haryana it has fallen below 700. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 45 different societies. It has also been right for upper caste Hindu widows found to perform differing functions. was denied and that the campaign for Indeed, the manner in which marriage widow remarriage was a major issue partners are arranged reveal an in the 19th century reform movements. astonishing variety of modes and What you are probably less aware is customs. that today in modern India nearly 10 per cent of all women and 55 per cent Activiy 3 of women over fifty years are widows (Chen 2000:353). Find out about the different ways Polygamy denotes marriage to that different societies go about more than one mate at one time and finding marriage partners. takes the form of either: Polygyny (one husband with two or more wives) or Polyandry (one wife with two or more Forms of Marriage husbands). Usually where economic Marriage has a large variety of forms. conditions are harsh, polyandry may These forms can be identified on the be one response of society, since in basis of the number of partners and such situations a single male cannot rules governing who can marry whom. adequately support a wife and In terms of the number of partners that children. Also, extreme poverty can legitimately enter into matrimony, conditions pressurise a group to limit we have two forms of marriage, its population. namely, monogamy and polygamy. Monogamy restricts the individual to The Matter of Arranging Marriages: one spouse at a time. Under this Rules and Prescriptions system, at any given time a man can In some societies, the decisions have only one wife and a woman can regarding mate selection are made have only one husband. Even where by parents/relatives; in some other polygamy is permitted, in actual societies individuals are relatively free practice, monogamy is more widely to choose their own mates. prevalent. In many societies, individuals are Rules of Endogamy and Exogamy permitted to marry again, often on the death of the first spouse or after In some societies these restrictions divorce. But they cannot have more are subtle, while in some others, than one spouse at one and the same individuals who can or cannot be time. Such a monogamous marriage married, are more explicitly and is termed serial monogamy. Re- specifically defined. Forms of marriage marriages on the death of a wife have based on rules governing eligibility/ been a norm for men for the most part. ineligibility of mates is classified as But as all of you are aware that the endogamy and exogamy. 46 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Endogamy requires an individual Rock-a-bye-baby, combs in your to marry within a culturally defined pretty hair, group of which he or she is already a The bridegroom will come soon and take you away member, as for example, caste. The drums beat loudly, the shehnai Exogamy, the reverse of endogamy, is playing softly requires the individual to marry outside A stranger’s son has come to fetch me of his/her own group. Endogamy and Come my playmates, come with our exogamy are in reference to certain toys kinship units, such as, clan, caste and Let us play, for I shall never play racial, ethnic or religious groupings. In again When I go off to the strangers’ house. India, village exogamy is practised in certain parts of north India. Village (Dube 2001: 94) exogamy ensured that daughters were married into families from villages far Activity 4 away from home. This arrangement ensured smooth transition and Collect different wedding songs and adjustment of the bride into the affinal discuss how they reflect the social home without interference of her dynamics of marriages and of kinsmen. The geographical distance gender relations. plus the unequal relationship in the patrilineal system ensured that married Activity 5 daughters did not get to see their parents too often. Thus parting from Have you ever seen matrimonial natal home was a sad occasion and is advertisements? Divide your class the theme of folk songs, which depict into groups and look at different the pain of departure. newspapers, magazines and the internet. Discuss your findings. Do Father, we are like flocks of bird you think endogamy is still the We shall fly away; Our flight will be prevalent norm? How does it help long, you to understand choice in We know not to which, marriage? More importantly, what Region we will go. kind of changes in society does it Father, my palanquin cannot reflect? Pass through your palace, (because the door is too small) Daughter, I shall remove a brick Defining Some Basic Concepts, (to enlarge the passage for your Particularly those of Family, palanquin), Kinship and Marriage You must go to your home. A family is a group of persons (Chanana 1993: WS 26) directly linked by kin connections, UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 47 the adult members of which assume III responsibility for caring for children. Kinship ties are connections between WORK AND ECONOMIC LIFE individuals, established either through marriage or through the lines of descent What is Work? that connect blood relatives (mothers, fathers, siblings, offspring, etc.) As children and young students we Marriage can be defined as a socially imagine what kind of ‘work’ we will do acknowledged and approved sexual when we grow up. ‘Work’ here quite union between two adult individuals. clearly refers to paid employment. This When two people marry, they become is the most widely understood sense of kin to one another. The marriage bond ‘work’ in modern times. also, however, connects together a wider This in fact is an oversimplified view. range of people. Parents, brothers, Many types of work do not conform to sisters and other blood relatives become the idea of paid employment. Much of relatives of the partner through the work done in the informal economy, marriage. The family of birth is called for example, is not recorded in any family of orientation and the family in direct way in the official employment which a person is married is called the statistics. The term informal economy family of procreation. The kin who are refers to transactions outside the related through “blood” are called sphere of regular employment, consanguinal kin while the kin who are sometimes involving the exchange of related through marriage are called cash for services provided, but also affines. As we move on to the next often involving the direct exchange of section on work and economic goods or services. institutions, you will notice how the We can define work, whether paid family and economic life are closely or unpaid, as the carrying out of tasks interconnected. requiring the expenditure of mental and There was no occupation, which Tiny’s Granny had not tried at some stage of her life. From the time she was old enough to hold her own cup she had started working at odd jobs in people’s houses in return for her two meals a day and cast-off clothes. Exactly what the words ‘odd jobs’ mean, only those know who have been kept at them at an age when they ought to have been laughing and playing with other children. Anything from the uninteresting duty of shaking the baby’s rattle to massaging the master’s head comes under the category of ‘odd jobs’ (Chugtai 2004:125). Find out more about the various kinds of ‘work’ done from your own observation or literature or even films. Discuss. 48 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Kind of Works physical effort, which has as its objective the production of goods and services Activity 6 that cater to human needs. Find out the proportion of Indians Modern Forms of Work and Division who are in rural based occupations. of Labour Make a list of these occupations. In pre-modern forms of society most people worked in the field or cared for the livestock. In the industrially agriculture, and farming itself has developed society only a tiny pro- become industrialised — it is carried on portion of the population works in largely by means of machines rather UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 49 than by human hand. In a country like India, the larger share of the population Activity 8 continues to be rural and agricultural Have you seen a master weaver at or involved in other rural based work? Find out how long one piece occupations. of shawl may take to make? There are other trends in India too, for instance an expansion of the service sector. People seeking jobs in factories One of the most distinctive were trained to perform a specialised characteristics of the economic system task and receive a wage for this work. of modern societies is the existence of a Managers supervised the work, for highly complex division of labour. Work their task was to enhance worker has been divided into an enormous productivity and discipline. number of different occupations in One of the main features of modern which people specialise. In traditional societies is an enormous expansion of societies, non-agricultural work economic interdependence. We are all entailed the mastery of a craft. Craft dependent on an immense number of skills were learned through a lengthy other workers-stretching right across period of apprenticeship, and the the world- for the products and services worker normally carried out all aspects that sustain our lives. With few of the production process from exceptions, the vast majority of people beginning to end. in modern societies do not produce the food they eat, the houses they live in or Activity 7 the material goods they consume. Find out whether there has been a shift to the service sector in India Activity 9 in recent times. Which are these Make a list of the food that you eat, sectors? the materials that were used to make Modern society also witnesses a the houses you live in, the clothes shift in the location of work. Before you wear. Find out how and who industrialisation, most work took place made them. at home and was completed collectively by all the members of the household. Advances in industrial technology, Transformation of Work such as machinery operating on Industrial processes were broken down electricity and coal, contributed to the into simple operations that could be separation of work and home. Factories precisely timed, organised and owned by capitalist entrepreneurs monitored. Mass production demands became the focal point of industrial mass markets. One of the most development. significant innovations was the 50 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Discuss the two forms of production in the two sets of visuals Cloth production in a factory UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 51 Threshing of paddy in a village 52 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY construction of a moving assembly line. vision here is that of the creation of Modern industrial production needed an international opinion forum expensive equipment and continuous (Roy Choudhury 2005 :2254). monitoring of employees through monitoring or surveillance systems. Read the above given report carefully. Over the last decades there has been Notice how the new organisation of a shift to what is often called ‘flexible production and a body of customers production’ and ‘decentralisation of outside the country have altered the work’. It is argued that in this period economics and the politics of of globalisation, it is the growing production. competition between firms and countries that makes it essential for IV firms to organise production suiting the POLITICS changing market conditions. To illustrate how this new system operates Political institutions are concerned with and what the implications may be for the distribution of power in society. Two the workers, read the quote from a concepts, which are critical to the understanding of political institutions, study of the garment industry in are power and authority. Power is the Bangalore. ability of individuals or groups to carry The industry is essentially part of a out their will even when opposed by long supply chain, and the freedom others. It implies that those who hold power do so at the cost of others. There of manufacturers is to that extent is a fixed amount of power in a society extremely limited. There are, in fact and if some wield power others do not. more than a hundred operations In other words, an individual or group between the designer and the final does not hold power in isolation, they consumer. In this chain, only hold it in relation to others. 15 are in the hands of the This notion of power is fairly manufacturer. Any serious inclusive and extends from family elders agitation for a rise in wages would assigning domestic duties to their lead manufacturers to shift their children to principals enforcing operations to other localities, discipline in school; from the General beyond the reach of unionists... Manager of a factory distributing work among the executives to political leaders whether it is the payment of the regulating programmes of their parties. existing minimum wage, or its The principal has power to maintain substantial revision upwards, what discipline in school. The president of a is important is to enlist the support political party possesses power to expel of the retailer in order to create the a member from the party. In each case, necessary pressure upon the an individual or group has power to the government and local agencies for extent to which others abide by their a higher wage structure and its will. In this sense, political activities or effective implementation. Thus the politics is concerned with ‘power’. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 53 But how is this ‘power’ applied to capacity to use military force to achieve its aim? Why do people comply implement its policies. The functionalist with others’ commands? Answers to perspective sees the state as these questions could be found with representing the interests of all sections reference to a related concept of of society. The conflict perspective sees ‘authority’. Power is exercised through the state as representing the dominant authority. Authority is that form of sections of society. power, which is accepted as legitimate, Modern states are very different that is, as right and just. It is from traditional states. These states are institutionalised because it is based on defined by sovereignty, citizenship legitimacy. People in general accept the and, most often, ideas of nationalism. power of those in authority as they Sovereignty refers to the undisputed consider their control to be fair and political rule of a state over a given justified. Often ideologies exist that help territorial area. this process of legitimation. The sovereign state was not at first one in which citizenship carried with it Stateless Societies rights of political participation. These were achieved largely through Empirical studies of stateless societies by struggles, which limited the power of social anthropologists over sixty years monarchs, or actively overthrew them. ago demonstrated how order is The French Revolution and our own maintained without a modern Indian independence struggle are two governmental apparatus. There was instances of such movements. instead the balanced opposition Citizenship rights include civil, between parts; cross-cutting alliances, political and social rights. Civil rights based on kinship, marriage and involve the freedom of individuals to residence; rites and ceremonies involving live where they choose; freedom of the participation of friends and foes. speech and religion; the right to own As we all know, the modern state property; and the right to equal justice has a fixed structure and formal before the law. Political rights include procedures. Yet are not some of the the right to participate in elections and informal mechanisms mentioned above to stand for public office. In most as features of stateless societies present countries governments were reluctant also in state societies? to admit the principle of universal The Concept of the State franchise. In the early years not only women, but a large section of the male A state exists where there is a political population was excluded as holding a apparatus of government (institutions certain amount of property was an like a parliament or congress, plus civil eligibility criterion. Women had to wait service officials) ruling over a given longer for the vote. territory. Government authority is The third type of citizenship rights backed by a legal system and by the are social rights. These concern the 54 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Activity 10 Find out when women got voting rights in different countries. Why do you think that despite the right to vote and the right to stand for public office, women are so inadequately represented? Will power in its wider sense be a useful concept to understand this under-representation in the Parliament and other bodies? Does the existing division of labour within families and households impact women’s participation in political life? Find out why there is a demand for 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament? prerogative of every individual to enjoy community. Thus, individuals feel a a certain minimum standard of sense of pride and belonging, in being economic welfare and security. They ‘British’, ‘Indian’, ‘Indonesian’ or include such rights as health benefits, ‘French’. Probably people have always unemployment allowance, setting of felt some kind of identity with social minimum level of wages. The groups of one form or another — for broadening of social or welfare rights example, their family, clan or religious led to the welfare state, which was community. Nationalism, however, only established in Western societies since made its appearance with the the Second World War. States of the development of the modern state. erstwhile socialist countries had Contemporary world is marked both by far-reaching provision in this sector. In a rapid expansion of the global market most developing countries, this was as well as intense nationalist feelings virtually non-existent. All over the and conflicts. world today these social rights are Sociology has been interested in the being attacked as liabilities on the state broader study of power, not just with and hindrances to economic growth. the formal apparatus of government. It Nationalism can be defined as a set has been interested in the distribution of symbols and beliefs providing the of power between parties, between sense of being part of a single political classes, between castes, and between Activity 11 Activity 12 Collect information about different Collect information of events that states doing away with social show the growth of global inter - rights. Find out what explanation connectedness as well as instances is given for this. Discuss and of divisions along ethnic, religious, see whether you can see the national conflicts. Discuss how relationship between the economic, politics and economics may have a political and social spheres. part to play in them. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 55 communities based on race, language it to domestic life, economic life and and religion. Its focus is not just on what political life. may be called specifically political Religion exists in all known association, such as state legislatures, societies, although religious beliefs and town councils and political parties but practices vary from culture to culture. also associations such as schools, Characteristics that all religions seem banks and religious institutions whose to share are: aims are not primarily political. The ´ set of symbols, invoking feelings of scope of sociology has been wide. Its reverence or awe; range has extended from the study of ´ rituals or ceremonies; international movements (such as ´ a community of believers. women or environmental) to village factions. The rituals associated with religion are very diverse. Ritual acts may include V praying, chanting, singing, eating certain kinds of food (or refraining from RELIGION doing so), fasting on certain days, and Religion has been a subject of study so on. Since ritual acts are oriented and reflection for a very long time. In towards religious symbols, they are Chapter 1, we have seen how usually seen as quite distinct from the sociological findings about society are habits and procedures of ordinary life. different from religious reflections. The Lighting a candle or diya to honour the sociological study of religion is different divine differs completely in its from a religious or theological study of significance from doing so simply to religion in many ways. One, it conducts light a room. Religious rituals are often empirical studies of how religions carried out by an individual in his/her actually function in society and its personal everyday life. But all religions relationship to other institutions. Two, also involve ceremonials practised it uses a comparative method. Three, it collectively by believers. Regular investigates religious beliefs, practices ceremonials normally occur in special and institutions in relation to other places — churches, mosques, temples, aspects of society and culture. shrines. The empirical method means that Religion is about the sacred realm. the sociologist does not have a Think of what members of different judgemental approach to religious religions do before entering a sacred phenomena. The comparative method realm. For example covering one’s head, is important because in a sense it or not covering one’s head, taking off brings all societies on level with each shoes, or wearing particular kind of other. It helps to study without bias clothes, etc. What is common to them and prejudice. The sociological all is the feeling of awe, recognition perspective means that religious life and respect for a sacred places or can be made intelligible only by relating situations. 56 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Sociologists of religion, following aspects of society. Why do you think Emile Durkheim, are interested in this is so? understanding this sacred realm which A pioneering work by Max Weber every society distinguishes from (1864 -1920) demonstrates how the profane. In most cases, the sociology looks at religion in its sacred includes an element of the relationship to other aspects of social supernatural. Often the sacred quality and economic behaviour. Weber argues of a tree or a temple comes with the that Calvinism (a branch of Protestant belief that it is sacred precisely because Christianity) exerted an important there is some supernatural force behind influence on the emergence and growth it. However, it is important to keep in of capitalism as a mode of economic mind that some religions like early organisation. The Calvinists believed Buddhism and Confucianism had no that the world was created for the glory conception of the supernatural, but did of God, meaning that any work in this allow sufficient reverence for things and world had to be done for His glory, persons which they considered sacred. making even mundane works acts of Studying religion sociologically worship. More importantly, however, lets us ask questions about the the Calvinists also believed in the relationship of religion with other social concept of predestination, which meant institutions. Religion has had a very that whether one will go to heaven or close relationship with power and hell was pre-ordained. Since there was politics. For instance periodically in no way of knowing whether one has history there have been religious been assigned heaven or hell, people movements for social change, like sought to look for signs of God’s will in various anti-caste movements this world, in their own occupations. or movements against gender Thus if a person in whatever profession, discrimination. Religion is not just a was consistent and successful in his or matter of the private belief of an individual but it also has a public her work, it was interpreted as a sign character. And it is th is public character of God’s happiness. The money earned of religion, which has an important was not to be used for worldly bearing on other institutions of society. consumption; rather the ethics of We have seen how sociology looks Calvinism was to live frugally. This at power in a wide sense. It is therefore meant that investment became of sociological interest to look at the something like a holy creed. At the relationship between the political and heart of capitalism is the concept of religious sphere. Classical sociologists investment, which is about investing believed that as societies modernised, capital to make more goods, which religion would become less influential create more profit, which in turn over the various spheres of life. The creates more capital. Thus Weber was concept secularisation describes this able to argue that religion, in this case process. Contemporary events suggest Calvinism, does have an influence on a persisting role of religion various economic development. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 57 Religion cannot be studied as a VI separate entity. Social forces always and invariably influence religious EDUCATION institutions. Political debates, economic Education is a life long process, situations and gender norms will involving both formal and informal always influence religious behaviour. institutions of learning. Here we are Conversely, religious norms influence however confining ourselves only to and sometimes even determine social school education. We are all aware how understanding. Women constitute half important getting admission into a of the world’s population. Sociologically school is. We also know, for many of us, therefore it becomes important to ask school is a step towards higher what relationship this vast segment of education and finally employment. For human population has with religion. some of us it may mean acquiring some Religion is an important part of society necessary social skills. What is common and is inextricably tied to other parts. in all cases is that there is a felt need The task of sociologists is to unravel for education. these various interconnections. In Sociology understands this need as traditional societies, religion usually a process of transmission/commu- plays a central part in social life. nication of group heritage, common to Religious symbols and rituals are often all societies. There is a qualitative integrated with the material and artistic distinction between simple societies culture of society. Read the extract and complex, modern societies. In the which is given below in the box to get a case of the former there was no need sense of how sociology studies religion. for formal schooling. Children learnt Many extraneous factors have affected the traditional lives of the religious specialists. The most important of these are the growth of new employment and educational opportunities in Nasik... after Independence, the way of life of the priests has been changing fast. Now the sons and daughters are sent to school, and are trained for jobs other than traditional ones… Like all places of pilgrimage, Nasik also gave rise to supplementary centres around religious activities. It was a normal routine for a pilgrim to take home the sacred water of the Godavari in a copper pot. The coppersmiths provided these wares. The pilgrims also bought wares, which they took home to be distributed as gifts among their relatives and friends. For long Nasik was known for its proficient craftsmen in brass, copper and silver... Since the demand for their wares is intermittent and uncertain, not all the adult males can be supported by this occupation... Many craftsmen have entered industry and business-both small and large scale (Acharya 1974: 399-401). 58 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY customs and the broader way of life by For Emile Durkheim, no society can participating in activities with their survive without a ‘common base-a adults. In complex societies, we saw certain number of ideas, sentiments there is an increasing economic division and practices which education must of labour, separation of work from inculcate in all children indiscriminately, home, need for specialised learning and to whatever social category they belong’ skill attainment, rise of state systems, (Durkheim 1956: 69). Education nations and complex set of symbols and should prepare the child for a special ideas. How do you get educated occupation, and enable the child to informally in such a context? How internalise the core values of society. would parents or other adults The functionalist sociologist thus informally communicate all that has to speaks in terms of general social be known to the next generation? needs and social norms. For the Education in such a social context has functionalists, education maintains to be formal and explicit. and renews the social structure, Furthermore modern complex transmits and develops culture. The societies in contrast to simple societies educational system is an important rest on abstract universalistic values. mechanism for the selection and This is what distinguishes it from a allocation of the individuals in their simple society that depends on future roles in the society. It is also particularistic values, based on family, regarded as the ground for proving kin, tribe, caste or religion. Schools in one’s ability and hence selective modern societies are designed to agency for different status according promote uniformity, standardised to their abilities. Recall our aspirations and universalistic values. discussion on the functionalist There are many ways of doing this. For understanding of roles and example one can speak of ‘uniform stratification in Chapter 2. dress for school children’. Can you For the sociologists who perceive think of other features that promote society as unequally differentiated, standardisation? education functions as a main Discuss the visuals UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 59 stratifying agent. And at the same The above report indicates how time the inequality of educational gender and caste discrimination opportunity is also a product of social impinges upon the chances of stratification. In other words we go to education. Recall how we began this different kinds of schools depending on book in Chapter 1 about a child’s our socio-economic background. And because we go to some kind of schools, we acquire different kind of privileges and finally opportunities. For instance some argue that schooling ‘intensifies the existing divide between the elite and the masses.’ Children going to privileged schools learn to be confident while children deprived of that may feel the opposite (Pathak 2002:151). However, there are many more children who simply cannot attend school or drop out. For instance a study reports : You are seeing some children in the school now. If you come during the cultivation season you may see almost zero attendance from the SC and ST children. They all take some household responsibilities while the parents are out to work. And the girl Discuss the visual children of these communities seldom attend school as they do chances for a good job being shaped various kinds of work both domestic by a host of social factors. Your and income generating. A 10 year understanding of the way social old girl picks dry cow dung to sell institutions function should help you for example (Pratichi 2002:60). analyse the process better now. Activity 13 A study of a kindergarten suggested that children learn that: ´ ‘work activities are more important than play activities’. ´ ‘work includes any and all teacher -directed activities.’ ´ ‘work is compulsory and free time activities are called play’ (Apple 1979:102). What do you think? Discuss. 60 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY GLOSSARY Citizen : A member of a political community, having both rights and duties associated with that membership. Division of Labour : The specialisation of work tasks, by means of which different occupations are combined within a production system. All societies have at least some rudimentary form of division of labour. With the development of industrialism, however, the division of labour becomes vastly more complex than in any prior type of production system. In the modern world, the division of labour is international in scope. Gender : Social expectations about behaviour regarded as appropriate for the members of each sex. Gender is seen as a basic organising principle of society. Empirical Investigation : Factual enquiry carried out in any given area of sociological study. Endogamy : When marriage is within a specific caste, class or tribal group. Exogamy : When marriage occurs outside a certain group of relations. Ideology : Shared ideas or beliefs, which serve to justify the interests of dominant groups. Ideologies are found in all societies in which there are systematic and engrained inequalities between groups. The concept of ideology connects closely with that of power, since ideological systems serve to legitimise the differential power which groups hold. Legitimacy : The belief that a particular political order is just and valid. Monogamy : When marriage involves one husband and one wife alone. Polygamy : When marriage involves more than one mate at one time. Polyandry : When more than one man is married to a woman. Polygyny : When more than one woman is married to a man. Service Industries : Industries concerned with the production of services rather than manufactured goods, such as the travel industry. State Society : A society which possesses a formal apparatus of government. Stateless Society : A society which lacks formal institutions of government. Social Mobility : Movement from one status or occupation to another. Sovereignty : The undisputed political rule of a state over a given territorial area. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 61 EXERCISES 1. Note what are the marriage rules that are followed in your society. Compare your observations with that made by other students in the class. Discuss. 2. Find out how membership, residence pattern and even the mode of interaction changes in the family with broader economic, political and cultural changes, for instance migration. 3. Write an essay on ‘work’. Focus on both the range of occupations, which exist and how they change. 4. Discuss the kind of rights that exist in your society. How do they affect your life? 5. How does sociology study religion? 6. Write an essay on the school as a social institution. Draw from both your reading as well as your personal observations. 7. Discuss how these social institutions interact with each other. You can start the discussion from yourself as a senior school student. And move on to how you are shaped by different social institutions. Are you entirely controlled or can you also resist and redefine social institutions? READINGS ACHARYA, HEMLATA. 1974. ‘Changing Role of Religious Specialists in Nasik — The Pilgrim City’, in ed. RAO, M.S. An Urban Sociology in India : Reader and Source Book, Orient Longman, New Delhi, pp. 391-403. APPLE, MICHAEL W. 1979. Ideology and Curriculum. Routledge and Kegan Paul, LONDON. CHUGTAI, ISMAT. 2004. Tiny’s Granny in Contemporary Indian Short Stories; Series 1. Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. DUBE, LEELA. 2001. Anthropological Explorations in Gender : Intersecting Fields. Sage Publications, New Delhi. DURKHEIM, EMILE. 1956. Education and Sociology. The Free Press, New York. PATHAK, AVIJIT. 2002. Social Implications of Schooling : Knowledge, Pedagogy and Consciousness. Rainbow Publishers, Delhi. PRATICHI. 2002. The Pratichi Education Report. Pratichi Trust, Delhi. 62 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY R OY C HOUDHUR Y , S UPRIYA . 2005. ‘Labour Activism and Women in the Unorganised Sector : Garment Export Industry in Bangalore’, Economic and Political Weekly. May 28-June 4. pp. 2250-2255. SHAH, A.M. 1998. Family in India : Critical Essays. Orient Longman, Hyderabad. S INGH , Y OGENDRA . 1993. Social Change in India : Crisis and Resilience. Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi. UBEROI, PATRICIA. 2002. ‘Family, Kinship and Marriage in India’, in Student’s Britannica, India. Vol.6, pp.145-155. Encyclopedia Britannica Private Ltd, New Delhi. CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 63 CHAPTER 4 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION I Activity 1 How do you greet another person in INTRODUCTION your ‘culture’? Do you greet different ‘Culture’, like ‘society’, is a term used kinds of persons (friends, older frequently and sometimes vaguely. relatives, the other gender, people This chapter is meant to help us define from other groups) differently? it more precisely and to appreciate its different aspects. In everyday Discuss any awkward experience conversation, culture is confined to the you may have had when you did not arts, or alludes to the way of life of know how you should greet a certain classes or even countries. person? Is that because you did not Sociologists and anthropologists study share a common ‘culture’? But next the social contexts within which culture time round you will know what to exists. They take culture apart to try do. Your cultural knowledge thereby and understand the relations between expands and rearranges itself. its various aspects. Just like you need a map to navigate over unknown space or constantly being added, deleted, territory, you need culture to conduct expanded, shrunk and rearranged. or behave yourself in society. Culture This makes cultures dynamic as is the common understanding, which functioning units. is learnt and developed through social The capacity of individuals to interaction with others in society. A develop a common understanding with common understanding within a group others and to draw the same meanings demarcates it from others and gives it from signs and symbols is what an identity. But cultures are never distinguishes humans from other finished products. They are always animals. Creating meaning is a social changing and evolving. Elements are virtue as we learn it in the company of 64 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY others in families, groups and social densities like in villages, towns communities. We learn the use of tools and cities. In different environments, and techniques as well as the non- people adapt different strategies to cope material signs and symbols through with the natural and social conditions. interaction with family members, This leads to the emergence of diverse friends and colleagues in different ways of life or cultures. social settings. Much of this knowledge Disparities in coping mechanisms is systematically described and were evident during the devastating conveyed either orally or through tsunami of 26 December 2004, which books. affected some parts of the Tamil Nadu For example, notice the interaction and Kerala coast as well as the Andaman below. Notice how words and facial and Nicobar Islands in India. People on expressions convey meaning in a the mainland and islands are integrated conversation. into a relatively modern way of life. The Commuter asks autodriver: “Indiranagar?” The verb that conveys the question — “Bartheera?” or “Will you come?” — is implied in the arch of the eyebrow. Driver jerks his head in the direction of the back seat if the answer is “Yes”. If it is “No” (which is more likely the case as every true blue Bangalorean knows) he might just drive away or grimace as if he has heard a bad word or shake his head with a smile that seems to suggest a “Sorry”, all depending on the mood of the moment. This learning prepares us for fisherfolk and the service personnel in the carrying out our roles and islands were caught unawares and responsibilities in society. You have suffered large scale devastation and already dealt with status and roles. much loss of life. On the other hand, the What we learn in the family is primary ‘primitive’ tribal communities in the socialisation, while that which happens islands like the Onges, Jarawas, Great in school and other institutions are Andamanese or Shompens who had no secondary socialisation. We shall access to modern science and technology, discuss this in greater detail later in this foresaw the calamity based on their chapter. experiential knowledge and saved themselves by moving on to higher II ground. This shows that having access to modern science and technology does DIVERSE SETTINGS, DIFFERENT CULTURES not make modern cultures superior to Humans live in a variety of natural the tribal cultures of the islands. Hence, settings like in the mountains and cultures cannot be ranked but can be plains, in forests and cleared lands, in judged adequate or inadequate in deserts and river valleys, in islands and terms of their ability to cope with the main lands. They also inhabit different strains imposed by nature. CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 65 Discuss how natural settings affect culture 66 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY habits acquired by man as a member Activity 2 of society” (Tylor 1871 I:1). Find out from at least one region other than your own how the natural environment affects food habits, patterns of dwelling, clothing and the ways in which God or gods are worshipped. Defining Culture Often the term ‘culture’ is used to refer to the acquiring of refined taste in classical music, dance forms, painting. This refined taste was thought to distinguish people from the ‘uncul- tured’ masses, even concerning Discuss how the visual capture a way of life something we would today see as individual, like the preference for coffee Two generations later, the founder over tea! of the “functional school” of anthro- By contrast, the sociologist looks at pology, Bronislaw Malinowski of culture not as something that Poland (1884-1942) wrote: “Culture distinguishes individuals, but as a way comprises inherited artifacts, goods, of life in which all members of society technical process, ideas, habits and values” (Malinowski 1931: 621-46). Activity 3 Clifford Geertz suggested that we look at human actions in the same way Identify equivalents in Indian as we look at words in a book, and see languages for the word culture. them as conveying a message. “… Man What associations do these carry? is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun. I take participate. Every social organisation culture to be those webs…”.The search develops a culture of its own. One early is not for a causal explanation, but for anthropological definition of culture an interpretative one, that is in search comes from the British scholar Edward for meaning (Geertz 1973: 5). Likewise Tylor: “Culture or civilisation taken in Leslie White had placed a comparable its wide ethnographic sense, is that emphasis on culture as a means of complex whole which includes adding meaning to objective reality, knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, using the example of people regarding custom and any other capabilities and water from a particular source as holy. CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 67 ´ Do you notice anything in The multiple definitions of culture Malinowski’s definition that is in anthropological studies led Alfred missing in Tylor’s? Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn (anthropologists from the United Apart from his mention of art, all the States) to publish a comprehensive things listed by Tylor are non-material. survey entitled Culture: A Critical This is not because Tylor himself never Review of Concepts and Definitions in looked at material culture. He was in 1952. A sample of the various fact a museum curator, and most of his definitions is presented below. anthropological writing was based on ´ Try comparing these definitions to the examination of artifacts and tools see which of these or which from societies across the world, which combination of these you find most he had never visited. We can now see satisfactory. his definition of culture as an attempt You may first find yourself noticing to take into account its intangible and words which recur–‘way’, ‘learn’ and abstract dimensions, so as to acquire a ‘behaviour’. However, if you then look comprehensive understanding of the at how each is used, you may be struck societies he was studying. Malinowski by the shifts in emphasis. The first happened to be stranded on an island phrase refers to mental ways but the in the Western Pacific during the First second to the total way of life. World War, and discovered thereby the Definitions (d), (e) and (f) lay stress on value of remaining for an extended culture as what is shared and passed period with the society one was on among a group and down the studying. This led to the establishment generations. The last two phrases are of the tradition of “field work” you will the first to refer to culture as a means read about it in Chapter 5. of directing behaviour. Culture is… (a) a way of thinking, feeling, believing. (b) the total way of life of a people. (c) an abstraction from behaviour. (d) learned behaviour. (e) a storehouse of pooled learning. (f) the social legacy the individual acquires from his group. (g) a set of standardised orientations to recurrent problems. (h) a mechanism for the normative regulation of behaviour. 68 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Make a list of phrases you have It may have occurred to you that heard containing the word ‘culture’. our understanding of material culture, Ask your friends and family what they especially art, is incomplete without mean by culture? What criteria do they knowledge acquired from the cognitive use to distinguish among cultures. and normative areas. It is true that our developing understanding of social Activity 4 process would draw upon all these Compare these definitions to see areas. But we might find that in a community where few have acquired which of these (or combination of the cognitive skill of literacy, it in fact these) you find most satisfactory. becomes the norm for private letters to You could do this by listing familiar be read out by a third party. But as we uses of the word ‘culture’ (the see below, to focus on each of these culture of eighteenth century areas separately provides many Lucknow, the culture of hospitality important insights. or the much used term ‘Western culture’...) Which of the definitions Cognitive Aspects of Culture best capture the impressions conveyed by each? The cognitive aspects of one’s own culture are harder to recognise than its material aspects (which are tangible or Dimensions of Culture visible or audible) and its normative Three dimensions of culture have been aspects (which are explicitly stated). distinguished : Cognition refers to understanding, how (i) Cognitive: This refers to how we we make sense of all the information learn to process what we hear or coming to us from our environment. In see, so as to give it meaning literate societies ideas are transcribed (identifying the ring of a cell-phone in books and documents and pre- as ours, recognising the cartoon of served in libraries, instititutions or a politician). archives. But in non-literate societies (ii) Normative: This refers to rules of legend or lore is committed to memory conduct (not opening other and transmitted orally. There are people’s letters, performing rituals specialist practitioners of oral tradition at death). who are trained to remember and (iii) Material: This includes any activity narrate during ritual or festive occasions. made possible by means of Let us think about how writing materials. Materials also include may affect the production and tools or machines. Examples consumption of art. In his influential include internet ‘chatting’, using book, Orality and Literacy Walter Ong rice-flour paste to design kolam on cites a study of 1971 that states that floors. only 78 of the approximately 3,000 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 69 existing languages possess a different contexts. We most often follow literature. Ong suggests that material social norms because we are used to that is not written down has certain doing it, as a result of socialisation. All specific characteristics. There is a lot social norms are accompanied by of repetition of words, to make it sanctions that promote conformity. We simpler to remember. The audience of have already discussed social control an oral performance is likely to be in Chapter 2 . more receptive and involved than While norms are implicit rules, would be readers of a written text from laws are explicit rules. Pierre an unfamiliar culture. Texts become Bourdieu, the French sociologist has more elaborate when they are written. reminded us that when we try to In societies like ours historically understand another culture’s norms, literacy has been made available only we must remember that there are to the more privileged. Sociological certain implicit understandings. For studies are often concerned with example, if a person wants to show investigating how literacy can be made gratitude for something s/he has been relevant to the lives of people whose given, s/he should not offer a return- families have never gone to school. This gift too quickly, or it seems like an can lead to unexpected responses, like attempt to get rid of a debt, not a a vegetable-seller who asked why he friendly gesture. needed to know the alphabet when he A law is a formal sanction defined could mentally calculate what his by government as a rule or principle customers owed him? that its citizens must follow. Laws are The contemporary world allows us explicit. They are applicable to the to rely far more on written, audio and whole society. And a violation of the visual records. Yet students of Indian law attracts penalties and punishment. classical music are still discouraged If in your home children are not from writing down what they learn allowed to stay outdoors after rather than carrying it in their memory. sundown, that is a norm. It is specific We still do not know enough about the to your family and may not be impact of the electronic media, of applicable to all families. However, if multiple channels, of instant accessing you are caught stealing a gold necklace and surfing. Do you think these new from someone else’s home, you have forms impact our attention span and violated the universally accepted law cognitive culture? of private property and can be sent to jail after trial as punishment. Normative Aspects of Culture Laws, which derive from the The normative dimension consists of authority of the State are the most folkways, mores, customs, conven- formal definitions of acceptable tions and laws. These are values or behaviour. While different schools may rules that guide social behaviour in establish different norms for students, 70 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY laws would apply to all those accepting norms. This can give rise to a situation the authority of the State. Unlike laws, of culture lag when the non-material norms can vary according to status. dimensions are unable to match the Dominant sections of society apply advances of technology. dominant norms. Often these norms are discriminating. For example norms that Culture and Identity did not allow dalits from drinking water Identities are not inherited but from the same vessel or even source. Or fashioned both by the individual and women from moving freely in the public the group through their relationship sphere. with others. For the individual the social roles that s/he plays imparts Material Aspects of Culture identity. Every person in modern The material aspect refers to tools, society plays multiple roles. For technologies, machines, buildings and instance within the family s/he may be modes of transportation, as well as a parent or a child but for each of the instruments of production and specific roles there are particular communication. In urban areas the responsibilities and powers. widespread use of mobile phones, It is not sufficient to enact roles. music systems, cars and buses, ATMs They also have to be recognised and (automated teller machines), refri- acknowledged. This can often be done gerators and computers in everyday life through the recognition of the indicates the dependence on particular language that is used among technology. Even in rural areas the use role players. Students in schools have of transistor radios or electric motor their own way of referring to their pumps for lifting water from below the teachers, other students, class surface for irrigation demonstrate the performances. By creating this adoption of technological devices for language which also serves as a code, increasing production. they create their own world of meanings In sum there are two principal and significances. Similarly, women are dimensions of culture: material and also known to create their own non-material. While the cognitive and language and through it their own normative aspects are non-material, the private space beyond the control of men material dimension is crucial to especially when they congregate at the increase production and enhance pond to bathe in rural areas or across the quality of life. For integrated washing lines on rooftops in urban functioning of a culture the material areas. and non-material dimensions must In a culture there can be many sub- work together. But when the material cultures, like that of the elite and or technological dimensions change working class youth. Sub-cultures are rapidly, the non-material aspects can marked by style, taste and association. lag behind in terms of values and Particular sub-cultures are identifiable CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 71 by their speech, dress codes, preference cultural values projected as the for particular kind of music or the standard or norm are considered manner in which they interact with their superior to that of the beliefs and values group members. of other cultures. We have seen in Sub-cultural groups can also Chapter 1 and in Chapter 3 (particularly function as cohesive units which in the discussion on religion) how imparts an identity to all group sociology is an empirical and not a members. Within such groups there normative discipline. can be leaders and followers but group Underlying ethnocentric compari- members are bound by the purpose of sons is a sense of cultural superiority the group and work together to achieve clearly demonstrated in colonial their objectives. For instance young situations. Thomas Babbington members of a neighbourhood can form Macaulay’s famous Minute on a club to engage themselves in sports Education (1835) to the East India and other constructive activities. Such Company in India exemplifies activities create a positive image of the ethnocentrism when he says, ‘We must members in the locality and this gives at present do our best to form a class the members not only a positive self- who may be interpreters between us and image but also inspires them to perform the millions whom we govern, a class of better in their activities. The orientation persons Indian in blood and colour but of their identity as a group undergoes English in tastes, in opinions, morals a transformation. The group is able to and intellect’ (quoted in Mukherji 1948/ differentiate itself from other groups 1979: 87), (emphasis added). and thereby create its own identity Ethnocentrism is the opposite of through the acceptance and cosmopolitanism, which values other recognition of the neighbourhood. cultures for their difference. A cosmopolitan outlook does not seek to Activity 5 evaluate the values and beliefs of other people according to one’s own. It Are you aware of any sub-cultural celebrates and accommodates different group in your locality? How are you cultural propensities within its fold and able to identify them? promotes cultural exchange and borrowings to enrich one’s own culture. Ethnocentrism The English language has emerged as It is only when cultures come into a leading vehicle of international contact with one another that the communication through its constant question of ethnocentrism arises. inclusion of foreign words into its Ethnocentrism is the application of vocabulary. Again the popularity of one’s own cultural values in evaluating Hindi film music can be attributed to the behaviour and beliefs of people from its borrowings from western pop music other cultures. This means that the as well as from different traditions of 72 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Indian folk and semi-classical forms Cultural Change like the bhangra and ghazal. Cultural change is the way in which A modern society is appreciative of societies change their patterns of cultural difference and does not close culture. The impetus for change can be its doors to cultural influences from internal or external. In regard to abroad. But such influences are internal causes, for instance, new always incorporated in a distinctive methods of farming or agriculture can way, which can combine with elements boost agricultural production, which of indigenous culture. The English can transform the nature of food language despite its foreign inclusions consumption and quality of life of an does not become a separate language, agrarian community. On the other nor does Hindi film music lose its hand external intervention in the form character through borrowings. The of conquest or colonisation can also absorption of diverse styles, forms, effect deep seated changes in the sounds and artifacts provides an cultural practices and behaviour of a identity to a cosmopolitan culture. In society. a global world where modern means of Cultural change can occur through communication are shrinking changes in the natural environment, distances between cultures, a contact with other cultures or pro- cosmopolitan outlook allows diverse cesses of adaptation. Changes in the influences to enrich one’s own culture. natural environment or ecology can Notice the words in the box. Have you heard or used these words in your conversations? Hinglish’ may soon conquer the world Some of the Hinglish words in vogue include airdash (travel by air), chaddis (underpants), chai (Indian tea), crore (10 million), dacoit (thief), desi (local), dicky (boot), gora (white person), jungli (uncouth), lakh (100,000), lampat (thug), optical (spectacles), prepone (bring forward), stepney (spare tyre) and would-be (fiancé or fiancée). Hinglish contains many words and phrases that Britons or Americans may not easily understand, according to a report... Some are archaic, relics of the Raj, such as ‘pukka’. Others are newly coined, such as ‘time-pass’, meaning an activity that helps kill time. India’s success in attracting business has recently produced a new verb. Those whose jobs are outsourced to India are said to have been ‘Bangalored’. CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 73 drastically alter the way of life of a III people. When forest dwelling communities are deprived of access to SOCIALISATION the forest and its produce either I believe that a complete life is because of legal restrictions or due to inclusive of everything around us : its decimation, it can have disastrous plants, cattle, guests, feasts, effects on the dwellers and their way of festivals, quarrels, friendship, companionship, discrimination, life. Tribal communities in North East scorn. All these and more were India as well as in middle India have present in one single place, my been the worst affected by the loss of home. Although life sometimes forest resources. appeared complicated then, I now Along with evolutionary change understand how consummate it there can also be revolutionary change. was. It is thanks to such a childhood, perhaps, that if I get just When a culture is transformed rapidly a glimpse of someone’s suffering, I and its values and meaning systems feel I can comprehend the whole of undergo a radical change then it (Vaidehi 1945). revolutionary change takes place. Revolutionary change can be initiated At the time of birth, the human infant through political intervention, knows nothing about we call society or technological innovation or ecological social behaviour. Yet as the child grows transformation. The French Revolution up, s/he keeps learning not just about (1789) transformed French society by the physical world. But about what it destroying the estate system of means to be a good or bad girl/boy. ranking, abolishing the monarchy, and S/he knows what kind of behaviour will inculcating the values of liberty, be applauded and, what kind will be equality and fraternity among its disapproved. Socialisation can be citizens. When a different under- defined as the process whereby the standing comes to prevail, culture helpless infant gradually becomes a self-aware, knowledgeable person, change occurs. Recent years have seen skilled in the ways of the culture into an amazing expansion of the media, which s/he is born. Indeed without both electronic and print. Do you think socialisation an individual would not the media has brought about an behave like a human being. Many of evolutionary or revolutionary change? you will be familiar with the story of the We are familiar with the various ‘Wolf-children of Midnapore’. Two small dimensions of culture now. To return girls were reportedly found in a wolf to the point we started with in Chapter den in Bengal in 1920. They walked on 1 about the interplay between the all four like animals, preferred a diet of individual and society, we now move on raw meat, howled like wolves and to the concept of socialisation. lacked any form of speech. Interestingly 74 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY such incidents have been reported from how the process of socialisation takes other parts of the world too. place. A child, in the first instance is a We have so far been talking about member of a family. But s/he is also a socialisation and the new-born infant. member of a larger kin-group (biradari, But the birth of a child also alters the khaandaan, a clan etc.) consisting of lives of those who are responsible for brothers, sisters and other relatives of its upbringing. They too undergo new the parents. The family into which learning experiences. Becoming s/he is born may be a nuclear or grandparents and parenting involves a extended family. It is also a member of whole set of activities and experiences. a larger society such as a tribe or sub- Older people still remain parents when caste, a clan or a biradri, a religious and they become grandparents, of course, linguistic group. Membership of these thus forging another set of relationships groups and institutions imposes certain connecting different generations with behavioural norms and values on each each other. Likewise the life of a young member. Corresponding to these memberships there are roles that are child changes with the birth of a sibling. performed, e.g. that of a son, a Socialisation is a life long process even daughter, a grandchild or a student. though the most critical process These are multiple roles, which are happens in the early years, the stage of performed simultaneously. The process primary socialisation. Secondary of learning the norms, attitudes, values socialisation as we saw extends over the or behavioural patterns of these groups entire life of a person. begins early in life and continues While socialisation has an imp- throughout one’s life. ortant impact on individuals it is not a The norms and values may differ kind of ‘cultural programming’, in within a society in different families which the child absorbs passively the belonging to different castes, regions or influences with which he or she comes social classes or religious groups into contact. Even the most recent new- according to whether one lives in a born can assert her/his will. S/he will village or a city or one belongs to a tribe cry when hungry. And keep crying until and if to a tribe, to which tribe. Indeed those responsible for the infant’s care the very language that one speaks respond. You may have seen how depends on the region one comes from. normal, everyday schedules of the Whether the language is closer to a family get completely reorganised with spoken dialect or to a standardised the birth of a child. written form depends on the family and You have already been introduced the socio-economic and cultural profile to the concepts of status/role, of social of the family. control, of groups and social strati- fication. You are also acquainted with Agencies of Socialisation what culture, norms and values are. All The child is socialised by several these concepts will help us understand agencies and institutions in which CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 75 s/he participates, viz. family, school, Families have varying ‘locations’ peer group, the neighbourhood, the within the overall institutions of a occupational group and by social society. In most traditional societies, the class/caste, by region, by religion. family into which a person is born largely determines the individual’s Family social position for the rest of his or her Since family systems vary widely, the life. Even when social position is not infants’ experiences are by no means inherited at birth in this way the region standard across cultures. While many and social class of the family into of you may be living in what is termed which an individual is born affect a nuclear family with your parents and patterns of socialisation quite sharply. siblings, others may be living with Children pick up ways of behaviour extended family members. In the first characteristic of their parents or others case parents may be key socialising in their neighbourhood or community. agents but in the others, grandparents, Of course, few if any children an uncle, a cousin may be more simply take over in an unquestioning significant. way the outlook of their parents. This Activity 6 Suggest ways in which the child of a domestic worker would feel herself different from the child whose family her mother works for. Also, what are the things they might share or exchange? To start with the obvious, one would have more money spent on clothes, the other might wear more bangles… They might have watched the same serials, heard the same film songs… they might pick up different kinds of slang from each other… Now you are left to follow up the difficult areas, like the sense of security within the family, the neighbourhood and on the street... Activity 7 The presence or absence of which of the items below do you think would affect you most as an individual? (possessions) television set/music system … (space) a room of your own… (time) having to balance school with household or other work… (opportunities) travel, music classes… (people around you) 76 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY is especially true in the contemporary world, in which change is so pervasive. Activity 8 Moreover, the very existence of a Reflect on your own experience. diversity of socialising agencies leads to Compare your interaction with many differences between the outlooks friends to that of your parents and of children, adolescents and the parental generation. Can you identify other elders. What is different? Does any instance where you felt that what the earlier discussion on roles and you learnt from the family was at status help you understand the variance from your peer group or maybe difference? media or even school? ages at work, and in other contexts, are Peer Groups usually of enduring importance in Another socialising agency is the peer shaping individuals’ attitudes and group. Peer groups are friendship behaviour. groups of children of a similar age. In some cultures, particularly small Schools traditional societies, peer groups are Schooling is a formal process: there is formalised as age-grades. Even without a definite curriculum of subjects formal age-grades, children over four studied. Yet schools are agencies of or five usually spend a great deal of socialisation in more subtle respects time in the company of friends of the too. Alongside the formal curriculum same age. The word ‘peer’ means ‘equal’, there is what some sociologists and friendly relations established have called a hidden curriculum between young children do tend to be conditioning children’s learning. There reasonably egalitarian. A forceful or are schools in both India and South physically strong child may to some Africa where girls, but rarely boys, are extent try to dominate others. Yet there expected to sweep their classroom. In is a greater amount of give and take some schools efforts are made to compared to the dependence inherent counter this by making boys and girls in the family situation. Because of their do those tasks that are normally not power, parents are able (in varying expected of them. Can you think of degrees) to enforce codes of conduct examples that reflect both trends? upon their children. In peer groups, by contrast, a child discovers a different Mass Media kind of interaction, within which rules of behaviour can be tested out and The mass media has increasingly explored. become an essential part of our Peer relationships often remain everyday lives. While today the important throughout a person’s life. electronic media like the television is Informal groups of people of similar expanding, the print media continues CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 77 to be of great importance. Even in the early print media in nineteenth century Activity 9 India, ‘conduct-books’ instructing You might want to explore how women on how to be better house- people relate to serials set in keepers and more attentive wives surroundings unlike their own. Or were popular in many languages. The if children are watching television media can make the access to information more democratic. Electronic with their grandparents, are communication is something that can there disagreements about which reach a village not connected by road programmes are worth watching, to other areas and where no literacy and if so, what differences in centres have been set up. viewpoint emerge? Are these There has been much research on differences gradually modified? the influence of television upon children and adults. A study in Britain showed Mahabharat was aired after dubbing in that the time spent by children Tashkent, but even without dubbing watching television is the equivalent of was watched in London by children who almost a hundred school days a year, spoke only English! and that adults are not far behind them. Apart from such quantitative aspects, Other Socialising Agencies what emerges from such research is not always conclusive in its implications. Besides the socialising agencies The link between on-screen violence mentioned, there are other groups, or and aggressive behaviour among social contexts, in which individuals children is still debated. spend large parts of their lives. Work If one cannot predict how the media is in all cultures an important setting influences people, what is certain is the within which socialisation processes extent of the influence, in terms both of operate, although it is only in indus- information and of exposure to areas trial societies that large numbers of of experience distant from one’s own. people “go out to work” — that is, go There is a sizeable audience for Indian each day to places of work quite television serials and films in countries separate from the home. In traditional like Nigeria, Afghanistan and among communities many people tilled the émigrés from Tibet. The televised land close to where they live, or had Look at the report and discuss how mass media influences children The Shaktimaan serial telecast a few years ago had children trying to dive down buildings resulting in fatal accidents. “Learning by imitation is a method followed frequently by people and children are no different,” says clinical psychologist. 78 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY workshops in their dwellings (see and come to maturity so influence our visuals on page 43). behaviour, it might appear that we are robbed of any individuality or free will. Socialisation and Individual Such a view is fundamentally Freedom mistaken. The fact that from birth to death we are involved in interaction It is perhaps evident that socialisation with others certainly conditions our in normal circumstances can personalities, the values we hold, and never completely reduce people to the behaviour in which we engage. Yet conformity. Many factors encourage socialisation is also at the origin of conflict. There may be conflicts our very individuality and freedom. between socialising agencies, between In the course of socialisation each of school and home, between home and us develops a sense of self-identity, peer groups. However since the and the capacity for independent cultural settings in which we are born thought and action. How Gendered is Socialisation? We boys used the streets for so many different things — as a place to stand around watching, to run around and play, try out the manoeuvrability of our bikes. Not so for girls. As we noticed all the time, for girls the street was simply a means to get straight home from school. And even for this limited use of the street they always went in clusters, perhaps because behind their purposeful demeanour they carried the worst fears of being assaulted (Kumar 1986). Activity 11 We have completed four chapters. Read the text of the next page carefully and discuss the following themes : ´ The relation between individual and society in the girl’s rebellion against grown-ups. ´ How the normative dimensions of culture are different in town and village? ´ The question of ascribed status in that the priest’s daughter is permitted to touch. ´ Conflict between socialising agencies for example in the text note: “thankful none of her school friends could see her like this”. Can you find any other sentence that illustrates this? ´ Gendered = combing hair + escort + not playing football ´ Punishment = “tight-lipped silence” + conspicuous absence of pappadams CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 79 An unusual sense of excitement pervaded her visit to the temple this evening. There had been an argument over lunch, between her and the grown-ups, when she had announced her decision to ring the bell in front of the sanctuary. ‘If Thangam can ring it, so can I,’ she debated hotly. They protested in shocked voices. ‘Thangam is the daughter of the temple priest, she is permitted to touch the bell.’ She responded angrily that Thangam came over to play hide-and-seek every afternoon and behaved no differently from any of them. ‘Besides,’ she added, goading them deliberately, ‘we are equal in the eyes of god.’ She was not quite sure whether they had heard this bit, for they had already turned away in disgust. But, after lunch, she caught them whispering about ‘that horrid English school she goes to,’ which meant that they had heard… She was sure they had not taken her seriously. That was the trouble with grown-ups: they always presumed that if they told her that she would understand everything when she was older, she would accept their wisdom and authority unquestioningly and not dream of going against them. Oh well, she would show them, this time... Back again at the house, she had to endure the intensely uncomfortable ritual of hairdressing. Her grandmother soothed her hair with what felt like a whole jar of oil, separated each shining strand till it hung limp and straight and lifeless down her back, then tied it up in a tight, skin stretching knot on the top of her head. She was thankful none of her school friends could see her like this.… Why wouldn’t they understand how ridiculous she felt, being escorted…She had reminded her mother many times that she walked alone to school everyday when they were back in town… [S]he noticed that the football game had already begun on the courtyard beside the temple of Krishna. She enjoyed watching the players, particularly since her obvious delight in the vigour of the game, and in the raucously voiced comments irritated Kelu Nair profoundly.… She came hurriedly upon the crowded main sanctuary... Before she could regret her decision or go back upon it, she elbowed herself quickly through the circle of women, nearly floundering on the slippery steps. The sight of the big bell above her touched her with a heady excitement. She could distinguish Kelu Nair’s frantically whispered threats, but she reached up, rang the bell with one resounding clang and was down the steps before he realised what was happening. Dimly she was aware of dark looks and subdued murmurs pursuing her as she permitted Kelu Nair to drag her away... She was in dire disgrace. Their tight-lipped silence was infinitely more eloquent than speech, as was the conspicuous absence of her favourite tiny pappadams at dinner... (From The Bell, by Gita Krishnakutty) 80 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY GLOSSARY Cultural Evolutionism : It is a theory of culture, which argues that just like natural species, culture also evolves through variation and natural selection. Estates System : This was a system in feudal Europe of ranking according to occupation. The three estates were the nobility, clergy and the ‘third estate’. The last were chiefly professional and middle class people. Each estate elected its own representatives. Peasants and labourers did not have the vote. Great Tradition : It comprises of the cultural traits or traditions which are written and widely accepted by the elites of a society who are educated and learned. Little Tradition : It comprises of the cultural traits or traditions which are oral and operates at the village level. Self Image : An image of a person as reflected in the eyes of others. Social Roles : These are rights and responsibilities associated with a person’s social position or status. Socialisation : This is the process by which we learn to become members of society. Subculture : It marks a group of people within a larger culture who borrow from and often distort, exaggerate or invert the symbols, values and beliefs of the larger culture to distinguish themselves. EXERCISES 1. How does the understanding of culture in social science differ from the everyday use of the word ‘culture’? 2. How can we demonstrate that the different dimensions of culture comprise a whole? 3. Compare two cultures with which you are familiar. Is it difficult not to be ethnocentric? 4. Discuss two different approaches to studying cultural change. 5. Is cosmopolitanism something you associate with modernity? Observe and give examples of ethnocentrism. 6. What in your mind is the most effective agent of socialisation for your generation? How do you think it was different before? CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION 81 READINGS ARMILLAS, PEDRO. 1968. The concept of civilisation, in SILLS , DAVID. ed. The International Encyclopedia of Social Science. Free Press-Macmillan, New York. BERGER, P.L. 1963. Invitation to Sociology : A Humanistic Perspective. Penguin, Harmondsworth. FORGE, J.A.W. 1976. Learning to see in New Guinea, in MEYER, PETER. ed. Socialisation : The Approach from Social Anthropology. GEERTZ, CLIFFORD. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books, New York. GIDDENS, ANTHONY. 2001. Sociology. Polity Press, Cambridge. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Unit 9, Agencies of Socialisation. Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Unit 8. Nature of Socialisation. KOTTAK, CONRAD P. 1994. Anthropology : The Exploration of Human Diversity, Sixth Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York. KRISHNA KUMAR. 1986. ‘Growing up Male’. in Seminar. No. 318, February. LARKIN, BRIAN. 2002. ‘Indian Films and Nigeria Lovers, Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities’ in ed. XAVIER, JONATHAN. and ROSALDO, RENATO. The Anthropology of Globalisation : A Reader, Blackwell, Malden. MALINOWSKI, BRONISLAW. 1931. ‘Culture’, in SELIGMAN. ed. Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Macmillan, New York. MUKHERJI, D.P. 1948/1979. Sociology of Indian Culture. Rawat Publications, Jaipur. T YLOR , E DWARD B. 1871/1958. Primitive Culture : Researches onto the Development of Mythology, Philosophy Religion, Art and Custom. 2 volumes. Volume 1: Origins of Culture. Volume 2. Religion in Primitive Culture, Gloucester, Mass., Smith. VOGT, EVON Z. 1968. ‘Culture Change’, in SILLS, DAVID. ed. The International Encyclopedia of Social Science. Free Press-Macmillan, New York. WILLIAMS, RAYMOND. 1976. Keywords : A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. Fontana/Croom Helm, London. 82 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY CHAPTER 5 DOING SOCIOLOGY : RESEARCH METHODS As you have seen in the previous I chapters, sociology is deeply interested INTROUDUCTION in the lived experience of people. For example, when studying social Have you ever wondered why a subject phenomena like friendship or religion like sociology is called a social science? or bargaining in markets, the More than any other discipline, sociology deals with things that are sociologist wants to know not only already familiar to most people. All of what is observable by the bystander, us live in society, and we already know but also the opinions and feelings of a lot about the subject matter of the people involved. Sociologists try to sociology — social groups, institutions, adopt the point of view of the people norms, relationships and so on — they study, to see the world through through our own experience. It seems their eyes. What does friendship mean fair, then, to ask what makes the to people in different cultures? What sociologist different from other does a religious person think he or she members of society. Why should she is doing when performing a particular or he be called a social scientist? ritual? How do shopkeeper and As with all scientific disciplines, the customer interpret each other’s words crucial element here is method, or the and gestures while bargaining for a procedures through which knowledge better price? The answers to such is gathered. For in the final analysis, questions are clearly part of the lived sociologists can claim to be different experience of actors involved, and they from lay persons not because of how much they know or what they know, are of great interest to sociology. This but because of how they acquire their need to understand both the outsider’s knowledge. This is one reason for the and the insider’s points of view is special importance of method in another reason why method is sociology. particularly important in sociology. DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 83 II geologist and the botanist are not themselves part of the world they study, SOME METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES i.e., the natural world of rocks or of Although it is often used simply as a plants. By contrast, social scientists substitute for (or synonym of) ‘method’, study the world in which they the word ‘methodology’ actually refers themselves live — the social world of to the study of method. Methodological human relations. This creates special issues or questions are thus about the problems for objectivity in a social general problems of scientific know- science like sociology. ledge-gathering that go beyond any one First of all, there is the obvious particular method, technique or problem of bias. Because sociologists procedure. We begin by looking at the are also members of society, they will ways in which sociologists try to also have all the normal likes and produce knowledge that can claim to dislikes that people have. A sociologist be scientific. studying family relations will herself be a member of a family, and her Objectivity and Subjectivity experiences are likely to influence her. in Sociology Even when the sociologist has no direct In everyday language, the word personal experience of the group she ‘objective’ means unbiased, neutral, or or he is studying, there is still the based on facts alone. In order to be possibility of being affected by objective about something, we must the values and prejudices of one’s ignore our own feelings or attitudes own social context. For example, about that thing. On the other hand, when studying a caste or religious the word ‘subjective’ means something community other than her own, the that is based on individual values and sociologist may be influenced by the preferences. As you will have learnt attitudes about that community already, all science is expected to be prevalent in her own past or present ‘objective’, to produce unbiased social environment. How do sociologists knowledge based solely on facts. But guard against these dangers? this is much harder to do in the social One method is to rigorously and sciences than in the natural sciences. continuously examine one’s own ideas For example, when a geologist and feelings about the subject of studies rocks, or a botanist studies research. More generally, the sociologist plants, they must be careful not to let tries to take an outsider’s perspective their personal biases or preferences on her/his own work — she tries to affect their work. They must report the look at herself and her research facts as they are; they must not (for through the eyes of others. This example) let their liking for a particular technique is called ‘self-reflexivity’, or scientific theory or theorist influence the sometimes just ‘reflexivity’. The results of their research. However, the sociologist constantly subjects her own 84 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY attitudes and opinions to self- (You could go back to Chapter 1, and examination. She or he tries to re-read the section (pp. 8-9) which talks consciously adopt the point of view of about the difference between common others, specially those who are the sense and sociology). subjects of her research. Another problem with objectivity in One of the practical aspects of sociology is the fact that, generally, reflexivity is the importance of carefully there are many versions of the ‘truth’ documenting whatever one is doing. in the social world. Things look different Part of the claims to superiority from different vantage points, and so of research methods lies in the the social world typically involves many documentation of all procedures and competing versions or interpretations the formal citing of all sources of of reality. For example, a shopkeeper evidence. This ensures that others can and a customer may have very different retrace the steps we have taken to arrive ideas about what is a ‘good’ price, a at a particular conclusion, and see for young person and an aged person may themselves if we are right. It also helps have very different notions of ‘good us to check and re-check our own food’, and so on. There is no simple thinking or line of argument. way of judging which particular But however self-reflexive the interpretation is true or more correct, sociologist tries to be, there is always and often it is unhelpful to think in the possibility of unconscious bias. To these terms. In fact, sociology tries not deal with this possibility, sociologists to judge in this way because it is really explicitly mention those features of their interested in what people think, and own social background that might be why they think what they think. relevant as a possible source of bias on A further complication arises from the topic being researched. This alerts the presence of multiple points of view readers to the possibility of bias and in the social sciences themselves. Like allows them to mentally ‘compensate’ its sister social sciences, sociology too for it when reading the research study. is a ‘multi-paradigmatic’ science. This Activity 1 Can you observe yourself as you observe others? Write a short description of yourself as seen from the perspective of : (i) your best friend; (ii) your rival; (iii) your teacher. You must imagine yourself to be these people and think about yourself from their point of view. Remember to describe yourself in the third person — as ‘he’ or ‘she’ rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’. Afterwards, you can share similar descriptions written by your classmates. Discuss each others’ descriptions — how accurate or interesting do you find them? Are there any surprising things in these descriptions? DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 85 means that competing and mutually families are still ‘joint families’, then a incompatible schools of thought census or survey are the best methods. coexist within the discipline (Recall the However, if one wishes to compare the discussion in Chapter 2 about status of women in joint and nuclear conflicting theories of society). families, then interviews, case studies All this makes objectivity a very or participant observation may all be difficult and complicated thing in appropriate methods. sociology. In fact, the old notion of There are different ways of objectivity is widely considered to be an classifying or categorising the various outdated perspective. Social scientists methods commonly used by no longer believe that the traditional sociologists. It is conventional, for notion of an ‘objective, disinterested’ example, to distinguish between social science is attainable; in fact such quantitative and qualitative methods: an ideal can actually be misleading. the former deal in countable or This does not mean that there is no measurable variables (proportions, useful knowledge to be obtained via averages, and the like) while the latter sociology, or that objectivity is a useless deal with more abstract and hard to concept. It means that objectivity has measure phenomena like attitudes, to be thought of as the goal of a emotions and so on. A related continuous, ongoing process rather distinction is between methods that than an already achieved end result. study observable behaviour and those that study non-observable meanings, Multiple Methods and Choice of values and other interpretational things. Methods Another way of classifying methods Since there are multiple truths and is to distinguish the ones that rely on multiple perspectives in sociology, it is ‘secondary’ or already existing data (in hardly surprising that there are also the form of documents or other records multiple methods. There is no single and artefacts) from those that are unique road to sociological truth. Of designed to produce fresh or ‘primary’ course, different methods are more or data. Thus historical methods typically less suited to tackle different types of rely on secondary material found in research questions. Moreover, every archives, while interviews generate method has its own strengths and primary data, and so on. weaknesses. It is thus futile to argue Yet another way of categorisation is about the superiority or inferiority of to separate ‘micro’ from ‘macro’ different methods. It is more important methods. The former are designed to to ask if the method chosen is the work in small intimate settings usually appropriate one for answering the with a single researcher; thus the question that is being asked. interview and participant observation For example, if one is interested in are thought of as micro methods. finding out whether most Indian Macro methods are those that are able 86 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY to tackle large scale research involving Participant Observation large numbers of respondents and Popular in sociology and specially investigators. Survey research is the most social anthropology, participant common example of a ‘macro’ method, observation refers to a particular although some historical methods can method by which the sociologist learns also tackle macro phenomena. about the society, culture and people Whatever the mode of classification, that he or she is studying (Recall the it is important to remember that it is a discussion on sociology and social matter of convention. The dividing line anthropology from Chapter 1). between different kinds of methods This method is different from need not be very sharp. It is often others in many ways. Unlike other possible to convert one kind of method methods of primary data collection like into another, or to supplement one with surveys or interviews, field work another. involves a long period of interaction The choice of method is usually with the subjects of research. dictated by the nature of the research Typically, the sociologist or social question being addressed, by the anthropologist spends many preferences of the researcher, and by months — usually about a year or the constraints of time and/or sometimes more — living among the resources. The recent trend in social people being studied as one of them. science is to advocate the use of As a non-native ‘outsider’, the multiple methods to bear on the same anthropologist is supposed to research problem from different immerse himself/herself in the culture vantage points. This is sometimes of the ‘natives’ — by learning their referred to as ‘triangulation’, that is, a language and participating intimately process of reiterating or pinpointing in their everyday life — in an effort to something from different directions. In acquire all the explicit and implicit this way, different methods can be knowledge and skills of the ‘insider’. used to complement each other to Although the sociologist or anthro- produce a much better result than pologist usually has specific areas of what might have been possible with interest, the overall goal of ‘participant each method by itself. observation’ field work is to learn Because the methods most about the ‘whole way of life’ of a distinctive of sociology are those that community. Indeed the model is that are designed to produce ‘primary’ data, of the child: sociologists and these are the ones stressed here. Even anthropologists are supposed to within the category of ‘field work’ based learn everything about their adoptive methods, we shall introduce you to communities in just the holistic way that only the most prominent, namely the small children learn about the world. survey, interview and participant Participant observation is often observation. called ‘field work’. The term originated DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 87 in the natural sciences, specially results obtained from first hand work those like botany, zoology, geology helped cement this growing prejudice etc. In these disciplines, scientists (See Box on next page). could not only work in the laboratory, Since the 1920s, participant they had to go out into ‘the field’ to observation or field work has been learn about their subjects (like rocks, considered an integral part of social insects or plants). anthropological training and the principal method through which III knowledge is produced. Almost all of the influential scholars in the discipline FIELD WORK IN SOCIAL have done such field work — in fact, A NTHROPOLOGY many communities or geographical Field work as a rigorous scientific places have become famous in the method played a major role in discipline because of their association establishing anthropology as a social with classic instances of field work. science. The early anthropologists were What did the social anthropologist amateur enthusiasts interested in actually do when doing fieldwork? exotic primitive cultures. They were Usually, he or she began by doing a ‘armchair scholars’ who collected and census of the community they were organised information about distant studying. This involved making a communities (which they had never detailed list of all the people who lived themselves visited) available from the in a community, including information reports and descriptions written by such as their sex, age group and family. travellers, missionaries, colonial This could be accompanied by an administrators, soldiers and other ‘men attempt to map the physical layout of on the spot’. For example, James the village or settlement, including the Frazer’s famous book, The Golden location of houses and other socially Bough, which inspired many early relevant sites. One of the important anthropologists was based entirely on techniques anthropologists use, such second hand accounts, as was the specially in the beginning stages of work of Emile Durkheim on primitive their field work is to construct a religion. Towards the end of the 19th genealogy of the community. This may and in the first decade of the 20th be based on the information obtained century many early anthropologists, in the census, but extends much further some of whom were natural scientists since it involves creating a family tree for by profession, began to carry out individual members, and extending the systematic surveys and first hand family tree as far back as possible. For observation of tribal languages, example, the head of a particular customs, rituals and beliefs. Reliance household or family would be asked on second hand accounts began to be about his relatives — brothers, sisters, thought of as unscholarly, and the good cousins — in his or her own generation; 88 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Bronislaw Malinowski and the ‘Invention’ of Field Work Although he was not the first to use this method — different versions of it had been tried out all over the world by other scholars — Bronislaw Malinowski, a Polish anthropologist settled in Britain, is widely believed to have established field work as the distinctive method of social anthropology. In 1914, when the First World War broke out in Europe, Malinowski was visiting Australia, which was a part of the British Empire at that time. Because Poland was annexed by Germany in the war, it was declared an enemy country by Britain, and Malinowski technically became an ‘enemy alien’ because of his Polish nationality. He was, of course, a respected professor at the London School of Economics and was on very good terms with the British and Australian authorities. But since he was technically an enemy alien, the law required that he be “interned” or confined to a specific place. Malinowski had anyway wanted to visit several places in Australia and the islands of the South Pacific for his anthropological research, so he requested the authorities to allow him to serve his internment in the Trobriand Islands, a British-Australian possession in the South Pacific. This was agreed to — the Australian government even financed his trip and Malinowski spent a year and a half living in the Trobriand Islands. He lived in a tent in the native villages, learnt the local language, and interacted closely with the ‘natives’ in an effort to learn about their culture. He maintained careful and detailed records of his observations and also kept a daily diary. He later wrote books on Trobriand culture based on these field notes and diaries; these books quickly became famous and are considered classics even today. Even before his Trobriand experience, Malinowski had been converted to the belief that the future of anthropology lay in direct and unmediated interaction between the anthropologist and the native culture. He was convinced that the discipline would not progress beyond the status of an intellectual hobby unless its practitioners engaged themselves in systematic first-hand observation preceded by intensive language learning. This observation had to be done in context — that is, the anthropologist had to live among the native people and observe life as it happened rather than interviewing individual natives summoned to the town or outpost for this purpose. The use of interpreters was also to be avoided — it was only when the anthropologist could interact directly with the natives that a true and authentic account of their culture could be produced. His influential position at the London School of Economics and the reputation of his work in the Trobriand enabled Malinowski to campaign for the institutionalisation of field work as a mandatory part of the training imparted to students of anthropology. It also helped the discipline to gain acceptance as a rigorous science worthy of scholarly respect. DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 89 then about his/her parents would be like a child, always asking generations — father, mother, their why, what and so on. In doing this, brothers and sisters etc. — then about the anthropologist usually depends on the grandparents and their brothers, one or two people for most of the sisters and so on. This would be done information. Such people are called for as many generations as the person ‘informants’ or ‘principal informants’; in could remember. The information the early days the term native obtained from one person would informant was also used. Informants be cross-checked by asking other act as the anthropologist’s teachers and relatives the same questions, and after are crucially important actors in the confirmation, a very detailed family tree whole process of anthropological could be drawn up. This exercise helped research. Equally important are the the social anthropologist to understand detailed field notes that the the kinship system of the community — anthropologist keeps during field work; what kinds of roles different relatives these notes have to written up every day played in a person’s life and how these without fail, and can be supplemented relations were maintained. by, or take the form of, a daily diary. A genealogy would help acquaint the anthropologist with the structure of the community and in a practical Activity 2 sense would enable him or her to meet Some famous instances of field with people and become familiar with the way the community lives. Building work include the following: on this base, the anthropologist would Radcliffe-Brown on the constantly be learning the language of Andaman Nicobar islands; the community. He or she would also Evans Pritchard on the Nuer be observing life in the community and in the Sudan; Franz Boas on making detailed notes in which the various Native American tribes significant aspects of community life in the USA; Margaret Mead on would be described. Festivals, religious Samoa; Clifford Geertz on Bali or other collective events, modes of etc. earning a living, family relations, modes Locate these places on a of child rearing — these are examples map of the world. What do of the kinds of topics that these places have in common? anthropologists would be specially What would it have been like interested in. Learning about these for an anthropologist to live in institutions and practices requires the these places in a ‘strange’ anthropologist to ask endless questions culture? What could be some about things that are taken for granted of the difficulties they faced? by members of the community. This is the sense in which the anthropologist 90 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY IV of one’s time with the members of the community. FIELD WORK IN SOCIOLOGY For example, William Foote Whyte, More or less the same techniques are an American sociologist, did his field used by sociologists when they do work among members of a street field work. Sociological field work ‘gang’ in an Italian-American slum in differs not so much in its content — a large city and wrote a famous book what is done during fieldwork — but Street Corner Society. He lived in the in its context — where it is done — area for three and half years ‘hanging and in the distribution of emphasis out’ — just spending time together — across different areas or topics of with members of the gang or group, research. Thus, a sociologist would who were mostly poor unemployed also live among a community and youth, the first American-born attempt to become an ‘insider’. generation in a community of However, unlike the anthropologist immigrants. While this example of who typically went to a remote tribal sociological field work is very close to community to do field work, anthropological field work, there are sociologists did their field work important differences (See Box). But among all sorts of communities. sociological field work need not only Moreover, sociological field work did be this kind — it can take different not necessarily involve ‘living in’, forms, as in the work of Michael although it did involve spending most Burawoy, for example, another Field Work in Sociology – Some Difficulties Compared to the anthropologist who studies a primitive tribe in a remote part of the world, the student of a modern American community faces distinctly different problems. In the first place, he is dealing with a literate people. It is certain that some of these people, and perhaps many of them, will read his research report. If he disguises the name of the district as I have done, many outsiders apparently will not discover where the study was actually located... The people in the district, of course, know it is about them, and even the changed names do not disguise the individuals for them. They remember the researcher and know the people with whom he associated and know enough about the various groups to place the individuals with little chance of error. In such a situation the researcher carries a heavy responsibility. He would like his book to be of some help to the people of the district; at least, he wants to take steps to minimise the chances of it doing any harm, fully recognising the possibility that certain individuals may suffer through the publication. — William Foote Whyte, Street Corner Society, p.342 DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 91 American sociologist who worked for modern aspects of colonised societies several months as a machinist in a rather than their progressive or positive Chicago factory and wrote about the side. So, studying villages and villagers experience of work from the perspective seemed much more acceptable and of workers. worthwhile for a sociologist than In Indian sociology, an important studying tribes only. Questions were way in which fieldwork methods have also being asked about the links been used is in village studies. In the between early anthropology and 1950s, many anthropologists and colonialism. After all, the classic sociologists, both Indian and foreign instances of field work like that of began working on village life and Malinowski, Evans Pritchard and society. The village acted as the countless others were made possible equivalent of the tribal community by the fact that the places and studied by the earlier anthropologists. people where field work was done were It was also a ‘bounded community’, part of colonial empires ruled by the and was small enough to be studied by countries from where the Western a single person — that is, the sociologist anthropologists came. could get to know almost everyone in However, more than the the village, and observe life there. methodological reasons, village studies Moreover, anthropology was not very were important because they provided popular with nationalists in colonial Indian sociology with a subject that was India because of its excessive concern of great interest in newly independent with the primitive. Many educated India. The government was interested Indians felt that disciplines like in developing rural India. The national anthropology carried a colonial bias movement and specially Mahatma because they emphasised the non- Gandhi had been actively involved in Activity 3 If you live in a village: Try to describe your village to someone who has never been there. What would be the main features of your life in the village that you would want to emphasise? You must have seen villages as they are shown in films or on television. What do you think of these villages, and how do they differ from yours? Think also of the cities you have seen which are shown in film or on television: would you want to live in them? Give reasons for your answer. If you live in a town or a city: Try to describe your neighbourhood to someone who has never been there. What would be the main features of your life in the neighbourhood that you would want to emphasise? How does your neighbourhood differ from (or resemble) city neighbourhoods as shown in film or on television? You must have seen villages being shown in film or on television: would you want to live in them? Give reasons for your answer. 92 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY what were called ‘village uplift’ a very important part of Indian programmes. And even urban sociology, and field work methods were educated Indians were very interested very well suited for studying village in village life because most of them society. retained some family and recent historical links to the villages. Above Some Limitations of Participant all, the villages were the places where Observation most Indians lived (and still do). For You have already seen what participant these reasons village studies became observation can do — its main strength Different Styles of Doing Village Studies Village studies became the main preoccupation of Indian sociology during the 1950s and 1960s. But long before this time, a very well known village study, Behind Mud Walls, was written by William and Charlotte Wiser, a missionary couple who lived for five years in a village in Uttar Pradesh. The Wisers’ book emerged as a by-product of their missionary work, although William Wiser was trained as a sociologist and had earlier written an academic book on the jajmani system. The village studies of the 1950s grew out of a very different context and were done in many different ways. The classical social anthropological style was prominent, with the village substituting for the ‘tribe’ or ‘bounded community’. Perhaps the best known example of this kind of field work is reported in M.N. Srinivas’s famous book, The Remembered Village. Srinivas spent a year in a village near Mysore that he named Rampura. The title of his book refers to the fact that Srinivas’s field notes were destroyed in a fire, and he had to write about the village from memory. Another famous village study of the 1950s was S.C. Dube’s Indian Village. As a social anthropologist at Osmania University, Dube was part of a multi- disciplinary team — including the departments of agricultural sciences, economics, veterinary sciences and medicine — that studied a village called Shamirpet near Secunderabad. This large collective project was meant not only to study the village but also to develop it. In fact, Shamirpet was meant to be a sort of laboratory where experiments in designing rural development programmes could be carried out. Yet another style of doing village studies is seen in the Cornell Village Study Project of the 1950s. Initiated by Cornell University, the project brought together a group of American social anthropologists, psychologists and linguists to study several villages in the same region of India, namely eastern Uttar Pradesh. This was an ambitious academic project to do multi-disciplinary studies of village society and culture. Some Indian scholars were also involved with this project, which helped train many Americans who later became well known scholars of Indian society. DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 93 is that it provides a very rich and is really very common in the larger detailed picture of life from the community (i.e., in other villages, in the perspective of the ‘insider’. It is this region, or in the country) or whether it insider perspective that is the greatest is exceptional. This is probably the return on the substantial investment of biggest disadvantage of field work. time and effort that field work demands. Another important limitation of the Most other research methods cannot field work method is that we are never claim to have a detailed knowledge of sure whether it is the voice of the the ‘field’ over a fairly long period of anthropologist we are hearing or that time — they are usually based on a of the people being studied. Of course, short and quick field visit. Field work the aim is to represent the views of the allows for the correction of initial people being studied, but it is always impressions, which may often be possible that the anthropologist — mistaken or biased. It also permits the whether consciously or unconsci- researcher to track changes in the ously — is selecting what will be written subject of interest, and also to see the down in his/her notes, and how it will impact of different situations or be presented to the readers of his/her contexts. For example, different aspects books or articles. Because there is no of social structure or culture may be other version available to us except that brought out in a good harvest year and of the anthropologist, there is always in a bad harvest year; people could the chance of bias or error. However, behave differently when employed or this risk is present in most research unemployed, and so on. Because she methods. or he spends a long period in ‘full time’ More generally, field work methods engagement with the field, a participant are criticised because of the one-sided observer can avoid many of the errors relationship they are based on. The or biases that surveys, questionnaires anthropologist/sociologist asks the or short term observation are inevitably questions and presents the answers subject to. and speaks for ‘the people’. To counter But like all research methods, field this, some scholars have suggested are work also has some weaknesses — more ‘dialogic’ formats — that is, ways otherwise all social scientists would be of presenting field work results where using this method alone! the respondents and people can be Field work by its very nature more directly involved. In concrete involves very long drawn out and terms, this involves translating the intensive research usually by a single work of the scholar into the language scholar working alone. As such, it can of the community, and asking their only cover a very small part of the opinion of it, and recording their world — generally a single village or responses. As the social, economic and small community. We can never be sure political distance or gap between the whether what the anthropologist or researcher and the researched becomes sociologist observed during fieldwork less wide, there is greater and greater 94 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY chance that the scholar’s version will be ‘investigators’ or ‘research assistants’). questioned, qualified, or corrected by The survey questions may be asked the people themselves. This will surely and answered in various forms. Often, make sociological research more they are asked orally during personal controversial and much more difficult. visits by the investigator, and But in the long run this can only be a sometimes through telephone good thing because it will help to take conversations. Responses may also be social science forward and make it more sought in writing, to ‘questionnaires’ democratic, thus allowing many more brought by investigators or sent people to participate in producing and through the post. Finally, with the critically engaging with ‘knowledge’. increasing presence of computers and telecommunication technology, these Surveys days it is also possible for surveys to The survey is probably the best known be conducted electronically. In this sociological method, one that is now so format, the respondent receives and much a part of modern public life that responds to questions by email, the it has become commonplace. Today it Internet, or similar electronic medium. is used all over the world in all sorts of The survey’s main advantage as a contexts going well beyond the social scientific method is that it allows concerns of sociology alone. In India, us to generalise results for a large too, we have seen the increasing use of population while actually studying surveys for various non-academic only a small portion of this population. purposes, including the prediction of Thus a survey makes it possible to election results, the devising of study large populations with a marketing strategies for selling manageable investment of time, effort products, and for eliciting popular and money. That is why it is such a opinions on a wide variety of subjects. popular method in the social sciences As the word itself suggests, a survey and other fields. is an attempt to provide an overview. It The sample survey is able to provide is a comprehensive or wide-ranging a generalisable result despite being perspective on some subject based on selective by taking advantage of the information obtained from a carefully chosen representative set of people. discoveries of a branch of statistics Such people are usually referred to as called sampling theory. The key ‘respondents’ — they respond to the element enabling this ‘shortcut’ is the questions asked of them by the representativeness of the sample. How researchers. Survey research is usually do we go about selecting a representative done by large teams consisting of those sample from a given population? who plan and design the study (the Broadly speaking, the sample selection researchers) and their associates and process depends on two main assistants (the latter are called principles. DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 95 The Census and the National Sample Survey Organisation The population Census of India conducted every ten years is the largest such exercise in the world. (China, the only country with a larger population, does not conduct a regular census.) It involves literally lakhs of investigators and a stupendous amount of logistical organisation not to speak of the huge expenditure incurred by the Government of India. However, in return for this outlay, we get a genuinely comprehensive survey in which every household in India and every one of the more than one billion people living in India get included. Obviously, it is not possible to conduct such a gigantic survey very often; in fact, many developed countries no longer conduct a full census; instead they depend on sample surveys for their population data, because such surveys have been found to be very accurate. In India, the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) conducts sample surveys every year on the levels of poverty and unemployment (and other subjects). Every five years it also conducts a bigger survey involving about 1.2 lakh households covering more than 6 lakh persons all over India. In absolute terms this is considered a large sample, and the NSSO surveys are among the biggest regularly conducted surveys in the world. However, since the total population of India is over 100 crore persons, you can see that the five-yearly survey of the NSSO involves a sample that is only about 0.06 per cent or just over one twentieth of one per cent — of the Indian population! But because it is scientifically selected to be representative of the total population, the NSSO sample is able to estimate population characteristics despite being based on such a tiny proportion. The first principle is that all the one state, we have to allow for the fact relevant sub-groups in the population that this population lives in villages of should be recognised and represented different sizes. In the same way, the in the sample. Most large populations population of a single village may be are not homogenous — they belong to stratified by class, caste, gender, age, distinct sub-categories. This is called religion or other criteria. In short, the stratification (Note that this is a notion of stratification tells us that the statistical notion of stratification which representativeness of a sample depends is different from the sociological on its being able to reflect the concept of stratification that you have characteristics of all the relevant strata studied in Chapter 4). For example, in a given population. Which kinds of when considering the population of strata are considered relevant depends India, we must take account of the fact on the specific objectives of the research that this population is divided into rural study. For example, when doing and urban sectors which are very research on attitudes towards religion, dif ferent from each other. When it would be important to include considering the rural population of any members of all religions. When 96 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY researching attitudes towards trade again likely to be biased. The point is unions it would be important to that after the relevant strata in a consider workers, managers and population are identified, the actual industrialists, and so on. choosing of sample households or The second principle of sample respondents should be a matter of pure selection is that the actual unit — i.e., chance. This can be ensured in various person or village or household — ways. Different techniques are used to should be based purely on chance. This achieve this, the common ones being is referred to as randomisation, which drawing of lots (or lottery), rolling of itself depends on the concept of dice, the use of random number tables probability. You may have come across specially produced for this purpose, the idea of probability in mathematics and more recently, random numbers course. Probability refers to the chance generated by calculators or computers. (or the odds) of an event happening. For To understand how a survey example, when we toss a coin, it can sample is actually selected, let us take fall with the ‘head’ side up or the ‘tail’ a concrete example. Suppose we wish side up. With normal coins, the to examine the hypothesis that living chance — or probability — of heads or in smaller, more intimate communities tails appearing is exactly the same, that produces greater intercommunity is 50 per cent each. Which of the two harmony than living in larger, more events actually happens when you toss impersonal communities. For the sake the coin — i.e., whether it comes up of simplicity, let us suppose we are heads or tails — depends purely on interested only in the rural sector of a chance and nothing else. Events like single state in India. The simplest this are called random events. possible sample selection process We use the same idea in selecting a would begin with a list of all villages in sample. We try to ensure that the actual the state along with their population person or household or village chosen (Such a list could be obtained from the to be part of the sample is chosen census data). Then we would decide on purely by chance and nothing else. the criteria for defining ‘small’ and Thus, being chosen in the sample is a ‘large’ villages. From the original list of matter of luck, like winning a lottery. villages we now eliminate all the It is only if this is true that the sample ‘medium’ villages, i.e., those that are will be a representative sample. If a neither small nor big. Now we have a survey team chooses only villages that revised list stratified by size of village. are near the main highway in their Given our research question, we want sample, then the sample is not a to give equal weightage to each of the random or chance sample but a biased strata, i.e., small and big villages, so we one. Similarly, if we choose mostly decide to select 10 villages from each. middle class households, or house- To do this, we number the list of small holds that we know, then the sample is and big villages, and randomly select DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 97 10 numbers from each list by drawing because we are using a small sample lots. We now have our sample, to stand for a large population. When consisting of 10 big and 10 small reporting the results of sample surveys, villages from the state, and we can researchers must specify the size and proceed to study those villages to see if design of their sample and the margin our initial hypothesis was true or false. of error. Of course, this is an extremely The main strength of the survey simple design; actual research studies method is that it is able to provide a usually involve more complicated broad overview representative of a large designs with the sample selection population with relatively small outlays process being divided into many stages of time and money. The bigger the and incorporating many strata. But the sample the more chance it has of being basic principles remain the same — a truly representative; the extreme case small sample is carefully selected such here is that of the census, which that it is able to represent or stand for includes the entire population. In the entire population. Then the sample practice, sample sizes may vary from is studied and the results obtained for 30-40 to many thousands. (See the box it are generalised to the entire on the National Sample Survey). It is population. The statistical properties not only the size of the sample that of a scientifically selected sample matters; its mode of selection is even ensure that the characteristics of the more important. Of course, decisions sample will closely resemble the on sample selection can often be based characteristics of the population it is on practical considerations. drawn from. There may be small In situations where a census is not differences, but the chance of such feasible the survey becomes the only deviations occuring can be specified. available means of studying the This is known as the margin of error, population as a whole. The unique or sampling error. It arises not due to advantage of the survey is that it any mistakes made by researchers but provides an aggregated picture, that is, Activity 4 Discuss among yourselves some of the surveys you have come across. These may be election surveys, or other small surveys by newspapers or television channels. When the results of the survey were reported, was the margin of error also mentioned? Were you told about the size of the sample and how it was selected? You must always be suspicious of surveys where these aspects of the research method are not clearly specified, because without them, it is not possible to evaluate the findings. Survey methods are often misused in the popular media: big claims are made on the basis of biased and unrepresentative sample. You could discuss some specific surveys you have come across from this point of view. 98 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Activity 5 How would you go about selecting a representative sample for a survey of all the students in your school if the objective of the survey were to answer the following questions: (i) Do students with many brothers and sisters do better or worse in studies compared to those with only one brother or sister (or none)? (ii) What is the most popular break-time activity for students in the primary school (Classes I-V), middle school (Classes VI-VIII), secondary school (Classes IX-X) and senior secondary school (Classes XI-XII)? (iii) Is a student’s favourite subject likely to be the subject taught by the favourite teacher? Is there any difference between boys and girls in this regard? (Note: Make different sample designs for each of these questions). Aggregate Statistics: the Alarming Decline in the Sex Ratio You have read about the sharp fall in the sex ratio in Chapter 3. In recent decades, fewer and fewer girls are being born relative to the number of boys, and the problem has reached worrying levels in states such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. The (juvenile, or child) sex ratio is expressed as the number of girls per 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years. This ratio has been falling steadily over the decades both for India as a whole and for many states. Here are some of the average juvenile sex ratios for India and selected states as recorded in the Census of 1991 and 2000. Number of girls per 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years 1991 2001 India 945 927 Punjab 875 793 Haryana 879 820 Delhi 915 865 Gujarat 928 878 Himachal Pradesh 951 897 The child sex ratio is an aggregate (or macro) variable that only becomes visible when you collate (or put together) statistics for large populations. We cannot tell by looking at individual families that there is such a severe problem. The relative proportion of boys and girls in any individual family could always be compensated by a different proportion in other families we have not looked at. It is only by using methods like a census or large scale survey that the overall ratio for the community as a whole can be calculated and the problem can be identified. Can you think of other social issues that can only be studied by surveys or censuses? DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 99 a picture based on a collectivity rather sensitive kind cannot be asked, or if than on single individuals taken asked are likely to be answered separately. Many social problems and ‘safely’ rather than truthfully. These issues become visible only at this kinds of problems are sometimes aggregative level — they cannot be refered to as ‘non-sampling errors’, identified at the more micro levels of that is, errors due not to the sampling investigation. process but to faults or shortcomings However, like all research methods, of the research design or the manner the survey also has its disadvantages. in which it was implemented. Although it offers the possibility of Unfortunately, some of these errors are wide coverage, this is at the cost of difficult to foresee and guard against, depth of coverage. It is usually not so that it is possible for surveys to go possible to get in-depth information wrong and produce misleading or false from respondents as part of a large estimates of the characteristics of a survey. Because of the large number population. Ultimately, the most of respondents, the time spent on each important limitation of the survey is must be limited. Moreover, since the that, in order to be successful, survey questionnaire is being taken they must depend on a tightly around to respondents by a relatively structured inflexible questionnaire. large number of investigators, it Moreover, howsoever well designed the becomes difficult to ensure that questionnaire might be, its success complicated questions or those depends finally on the nature of the requiring detailed prompting will be interactions between investigators and asked of all respondents in exactly the respondents, and specially on the same way. Differences in the way goodwill and cooperation of the latter. questions are asked or answers recorded could introduce errors into Interview the survey. That is why the questionnaire for a survey (sometimes An interview is basically a guided called a ‘survey instrument’) has to be conversation between the researcher designed very carefully — since it will and the respondent. Although it has be handled by persons other than the few technicalities associated with it, the researchers themselves, there is little simplicity of the format can be chance of corrections or modifications deceptive because it actually takes a in the course of its use. lot of practice and skill to become a Given that there is no long-term good interviewer. The interview relationship between investigator and occupies the ground between a respondent and hence no familiarity structured questionnaire of the type or trust, questions that can be asked used in surveys, and the completely in a survey have to be of the kind that open-ended interactions typical can be asked and answered between of participant observation methods. strangers. Questions of a personal or Its chief advantage is the extreme 100 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY flexibility of the format. Questions can after it is concluded? The introduction be re-phrased or even stated differently; of equipment like recorders and so on the order of subjects or questions can frequently makes the respondent be changed according to the progress uneasy and introduces a degree of (or lack of progress) in the conver - formality into the conversation. On the sation; subjects that are producing other hand, important information can good material can be extended and sometimes go unnoticed or not be built upon others that provoke recorded at all when other less unfavourable reactions can be cut comprehensive methods of record short or postponed to a later occasion, keeping are being employed. and all this can be done during the Sometimes the physical or social course of the interview itself. circum-stances in which the interview On the other hand, many of the is being conducted determine the mode disadvantages of the interview as a of recording. The way in which the research method are also related to its interview is later written for publication advantages. The very same flexibility or as part of a research report can also can also make the interview vulnerable differ widely. Some researchers prefer to changes of mood on the part of the to edit the transcript and present a respondent, or to lapses of ‘cleaned up’ continuous narrative; concentration on the part of the others wish to retain the flavour of the interviewer. It is in this sense an original conversation as much as unstable and unpredictable format — possible and therefore include all the it works very well when it works, and asides and digressions as well. fails miserably when it doesn’t. The interview is often used along There are different styles of with or as a supplement to other interviewing and opinions and methods, specially participant obser- experiences differ as to their relative vation and surveys. Long conversations advantages. Some prefer a very loosely with ‘key informants’ (the main structured format, with only a check- informant in a participant observation list of topics rather than actual study) can often provide a concentrated questions; others like to have more account that situates and clarifies the structure, with specific questions to be accompanying material. Similarly, asked of all respondents. How the intensive interviews can add depth and interview is recorded can also differ detail to the findings of a survey. according to circumstances and However, as a method, the interview is preferences, ranging from actual video dependent on personalised access and or audio recording, detailed note taking the degree of rapport or mutual trust during the interview, or relying on between the respondent and the memory and writing up the interview researcher. DOING SOCIOLOGY: RESEARCH METHODS 101 GLOSSARY Census : A comprehensive survey covering every single member of a population. Genealogy : An extended family tree outlining familial relations across generations. Non-sampling Error : Errors in survey results due to mistakes in the design or application of methods. Population : In the statistical sense, the larger body (of persons, villages, households, etc.) from which a sample is drawn. Probability : The likelihood or odds of an event occuring (in the statistical sense). Questionnaire : A written list of questions to be asked in a survey or interview. Randomisation : Ensuring that an event (such as the selection of a particular item in the sample) depends purely on chance and nothing else. Reflexivity : The researcher’s ability to observe and analyse oneself. Sample : A subset or selection (usually small) drawn from and representing a larger population. Sampling Error : The unavoidable margin of error in the results of a survey because it is based on information from only a small sample rather than the entire population. Stratification : According to the the statistical sense, the subdivision of a population into distinct groups based on relevant criteria such as gender, location, religion, age etc. EXERCISES 1. Why is the question of a scientific method particularly important in sociology? 2. What are some of the reasons why ‘objectivity’ is more complicated in the social sciences, particularly disciplines like sociology? 3. How do sociologists try to deal with these difficulties and strive for objectivity? 4. What is meant by ‘reflexivity’ and why is it important in sociology? 5. What are some of the things that ethnographers and sociologists do during participant observation? 102 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY 6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of participant observation as a method? 7. What are the basic elements of the survey method? What is chief advantage of this method? 8. What are some of the criteria involved in selecting a representative sample? 9. What are some of the weaknesses of the survey method? 10. Describe the main features of the interview as a research method. READINGS B AUMAN, ZYGMUNT . 1990. Thinking Sociologically. Basil Blackwell, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. BECKER, H OWARD S. 1970. Sociological Work : Method and Substance. The Penguin Press, Allen Lane. BETEILLE, ANDRE and MADAN, T.N. ed. 1975. Encounter and experience: Personal Accounts of Fieldwork. Vikas Publishing House, Delhi. BURGESS, ROBER T G. ed. 1982. Field Research : A Sourcebook and Field Manual. George Allen and Unwin, London. COSER, LEWIS. RHEA, A, B. STEFFAN, P.A. and NOCK, S.L. 1983. Introduction to Sociology. Harcourt Brace Johanovich, New York. SRINIVAS. M.N. SHAH, A.M. and RAMASWAMY, E.A. ed. 2002. The fieldworker and the Field : Problems and Challenges in Sociological Investigation. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.
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