Sociology Index

CASTE

Caste is status group, within a system of hierarchical social stratification, in which membership is hereditary. Caste differentiations are based on religious and mythical traditions and caste membership determines occupational roles, place of residence and legal and customary rights and duties.

Caste is maintained from generation to generation by the practice of within-caste marriage (endogamy) and strict formality in social interaction with other castes. In India for instance the caste system is so well entrenched that in an high to low order, the second last will not marry into the last. The second last in fact look down upon the last in the order.

Orientalism, ideology and identity - Examining caste in South Asian archaeology 
Nicole Boivin, Maison de l’Arch´┐Żologie et de l’Ethnologie, Universit´┐Ż Paris X, France,
After attempting to identify why caste has been largely omitted from archaeological studies in South Asia, the article explores some of the issues that archaeologists will have to consider if they are going to begin to explicitly address caste in their research, including the relationship between caste and material culture, time, place, agency and ideology.

Article examines the reasons why archaeologists need to address caste, and the ways in which archaeology can contribute to a clear understanding of caste and its development and contemporary relevance in South Asia.

The Embodiment of Caste-Oppression, Protest and Change - Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh, Irene Rafanell, University of Paisley - Sociology, Vol. 41, No. 1, 97-114 (2007)
Caste is often presented as a stable or fixed form of social stratification that conditions the behaviour of its members. This occludes the micro-structural process by which caste is embodied. This article uses empirical work on caste protest to discuss the fluid nature of embodied activity, and the analytical utility of two social constructionist accounts. Whereas the internalized structures of Bourdieu's habitus initially appear to make most sense of the embodiment and permanence of caste, we contend that a Foucauldian approach offers better insight into the interactional basis of social structures and identity formation. The article reconsiders both theories in light of these empirical data and concludes that analysing interaction at a local level enables us to better comprehend the emergence of social structural features in a caste context.

Caste-Based Reservations and Human Development in India 
Authored by: K S Chalam Union Public Service Commission 
Description: Caste-based reservations have existed in India for more than a century. Initially introduced by the British to bring equality of opportunity in education, reservation was later extended to other sectors of the development process to overcome the problem of economic inequalities attributed to caste. Even today, concepts like affirmative action and quotas are being debated to justify reservation. This book provides a comprehensive assessment of the impact of caste-based reservation on human development in India, taking into consideration the time series data. 
The book also analyzes the impact of caste-based reservations on the target groups, as well as on major human development indices. An alternative strategy of applying the democratic principle of caste-based reservation is also discussed.

Caste, Culture and Hegemony - Social Dominance in Colonial Bengal 
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay Victoria University of Wellington 
Description: It is widely believed that, because of its exceptional social development, the caste system in colonial Bengal differed considerably from the rest of India. Through a study of the complex interplay between caste, culture and power, this book convincingly demonstrates that Bengali Hindu society preserved the essentials of caste discrimination in colonial times, even while giving the outward appearance of having changed.
Using empirical data combined with an impressive array of secondary sources, Dr Bandyopadhyay delineates the manner in which Hindu caste society maintained its cultural hegemony and structural cohesion.
Starting with an examination of the relationship between caste and power, the book examines early cultural encounters between `high' Brahmanical tradition and the more egalitarian `popular' religious cults of the lower castes. It moves on to take a close look at the relationship between caste and gender showing the reasons why the reform movement for widow remarriage failed.
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay breaks with many of the assumptions of two important schools of thought - the Dumontian and the subaltern - and takes instead a more nuanced approach to show how high caste hegemony has been able to perpetuate itself.