Sociology of Indian Society (SOIS)

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSLS2SC0024

Semester and Year Offered: 1stSemester to every Cohort

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr UrfatAnjem Mir

Email of course coordinator: urfat[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in,

Pre-requisites: NA


The course provides for an engagement with some of the substantive themes, such as caste, village, religion, gender etc., that characterize Indian Society, to examine how the rethinking and re-imagination of many of these categories and concepts, over the decades, especially post-independence, helped reconfigure the contour of Indian Sociology.

Course Outcomes:

By the end of this course, the students will be able to:

  1. Describe the social characteristics of Indian society and critically engage with some of the themes that define the Indian society like, caste, village and religion.
  2. Explain the key features of the debates on sociology in/of /for India and evaluate the understanding of these categories and concepts in relation to contemporary Indian society.
  3. Demonstrate capability to effectively engage with social attributes of a multicultural society through a local and global perspective and respect the basis of social-cultural diversity.
  4. Demonstrate sensibility towards social issues of marginal, socially excluded and deprived communities / sections of the society and apply this understanding for an awareness and reflexivity of self and society.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This course charts historical trends in the sociology of Indian society via an examination of the major themes that have preoccupied the discipline. In particular, we seek to illustrate the ways that earlier Indological categories, often developed by colonial administrators for the purposes of colonial governmentality and rule, preoccupied sociologists of India for several decades after independence. How have such categories been radically rethought in the postcolonial era? And how have these aspects of social life undergone change in the past few decades?

The course begins with the central debates on the sociological enterprise in India and then critically engages with some of the very important sociological concepts in the context of India,, such as village, caste, class, tribe and so on to reflect on themes of colonialism, nationalism, tradition, modernity, identity, and globalisation. The aim is to examine how and to what extent the rethinking and re-imagination of many of these categories and concepts, over the decades especially, post-independence helped reconfigure the contour of Indian Sociology. In brief, the central questions in this course are: What are the multiple ways of looking at society and what has been the sociological approach to studying the Indian society?

Main Modules

Debates in Indian Sociology, 1945-1985: Can there be a ‘Sociology of India’?

Is Sociology in India simply a derivative of the West or firmly embedded in political and cultural landscapes of India? In other words,can there be Sociology of India? In an attempt to find an answer to this question, this module revisits some of the significant debates in Indian sociology, debates that appeared in the journal Contributions to Indian Sociology instituted by Louis Dumont and David Pocock way back in 1957.Debates in sociology continue. So does the search for a Sociology of India. Has the debate remained the same or undergone significant changes in both style and content? The texts below raise some questions significant and relevant for our time. Has the debate remained the same or undergone significant changes in both style and content? The texts below raise some questions significant and relevant for our time?

Village India: Issues and Approaches

The “villages of India” have been one of the most sought after and eventually most researched themes among the early Sociologist and Anthropologists. Colonial Anthropologists and the census officials did find in the villages that crucial entry point to a society they found so bewildering because of its diversity and complexity. The module will map the transition of village India from the romance of “Little Republics” to a zone of suicides, hopelessness and despair.

Religion in India

This module will make an attempt to introduce the student to major theoretical perspectives that inform the study of religion in India and also touch upon some contemporary practices of religion.

Caste in Modern India and the Social Exclusion of Communities

Caste has tended to dominate studies of Indian society and its systems of stratification. This module attempts to address the question of resurgence of caste in modern India. While Caste has been one of the central themes of Indian Sociology and Social Anthropology from its inception, this module intends to inform the sociological understanding on the dimensions of caste in contemporary India. This module also examines through the perspective of social exclusion, the multidimensional forms of deprivation encountered by various communities in India. It addresses the relevance, as well as, politics of social exclusion paradigm in understanding poverty, deprivation and marginalization in contemporary India.

Family and Kinship in India

This module will acquaint the students with the sociological thinking on family and kinship networks in India. The focus would be on the structure of family and the changes in family and kinship in India.

Tribes in India

This section aims to critically analyse the concept of ‘tribe’ and tribal society in India as defined by anthropologists and colonial administrators. Precisely, the use of terms such as ‘adivasi’, ‘Indigenous people’ in relation to tribal identity and the impacts of mobility and change on tribes would be discussed.

Social Markers of identity, Crisis and Conflicts in India

This section explores scholarship that particularly focuses on questions of identity, diversity, ethnicity, community and explore how caste, religious community identity plays out in Indian society.This course module also seeks to focus on the emergence of violence and conflict in India and its various dimensions. Drawing from a sociological & anthropological perspective, causes and experiences of religious, ethnic and other conflicts and crisis in the culturally diverse and heterogeneous Indian context would be analysed.

Work, Labour and Globalization

In this section, various studies within the sociology of work and labour, situating them within the political-economy of India are discussed. Through these readings, the learners,engage with broader issues of industrialisation, modernisation and globalisation, examining the worlds of Indian labour from the workers in an organised sector to informal workers.

Urban India: Studying Cities

This section looks at post-Independence Indian cities as arenas of social contestation, examining urban spaces as both the medium and product of social relations. Through an analysis of civil society protests, slum demolitions and claim-making by the urban poor, we will try to understand the complex pasts and presents of urban India.

Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Class participation: (Two surprise class activities announced in class). The objective of this assignment component is to ensure active participation and engagement of the learners in the learning process during the transaction of the course and asses their ability to grasp and apply the understanding to make sense of the social issues and problems. 20% Weight
  2. Project assignment on any topic/theme related to Indian society. The objective is to learn about the society by exploring and observing the neighbourhood. 20 % weight
  3. Presentation on social- cultural practices and Intuitions of any one community to demonstrate the understanding of the key features of diversity and the complexity 20 % weight:
  4. End Semester written Exam 40 % Weight

Reading List:

  • Dumont, L and David F. Pocock. 1957. ‘For a Sociology of India’. Contributions to Indian Sociology I. 7-22.
  • Bailey, F.G. 1959 ‘For a Sociology of India’. Correspondence published by editors to Contributions to Indian Sociology III: 88-101.
  • Uberoi, J.P.S. 1974. ‘For a Sociology of India: New outlines of structural sociology, 1945-1970’. Contributions to Indian Sociology.NS 8:135-52
  • MeenkashiThapan (1988). For Sociology of India: Contributions and the Sociology of India. Contributions to Indian Sociology NS 22(2): 259- 272
  • Beteille, A. 1993. ‘For a Sociology of India: Sociology and anthropology: Their relationship in one person’s career’. Contributions to Indian Sociology.NS. 27(2):291-304.
  • Vasavi, A.R. 2011. "Pluralising the Sociology of India."Contributions to Indian Sociology. NS45(3): 399-426.
  • Patel, Sujata. 2011. "Sociology in India: Trajectories and Challenges." Contributions to Indian Sociology NS 45(3): 427-35.
  • Srinivas, M.N. 1976. The Remembered Village, Delhi: Oxford India: 102-136, 233-258
  • Gupta, Dipankar, 2005, Whither the Indian Village: Culture and Agriculture in Rural India in Economic and Political Weekly, Feb 9, 2005
  • Beteille, Andre. 1980. The Indian Village: Past and present in E.J. Hobsbawm, Peasants in History: 107-120. Published for Sameeksha Trust by Oxford University Press, Delhi.
  • Madan.T.N. 1992.Religion in India .OUP; Delhi. Introduction pp1-22
  • Robinson, Rowena 2004 Sociology of Religion in India. Sage: New Delhi Introduction Pp15-36
  • D L Sheth 2009.Political Communalisation of Religions and the Crisis of Secularism. EPW, Vol: XlIV No: 39 pp 71-79.
  • Ambedkar, B.R. 1916. Caste in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development, Paper Presented at an Anthropology Seminar, Columbia University, on 9th May
  • Srinivas M.N. Ed. 2000, Caste: its twentieth Century Avatar, Penguin, New Delhi,(Chapters- I, IX, X,XII) pp. IX-XXXVIII, 174-193, 203-220, 244-261
  • De Haan, A. 2008. Social Exclusion: Towards a holistic understanding of Deprivation, New Delhi: Critical Quest: 1-18
  • Sen A. 2000. Social Exclusion: Concept, Application and Scrutiny, Social Development Paper No 1, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines
  • Thorat, S.K. Attewell P. Rizvi F.F. 2009. Urban Labour Market Discrimination, Indian Institute of Dalit Studies Working Paper Series, Vol III, No 01.
  • Government of India, 2006. Cabinet Secretariat, Prime Minister’s High Level Committee, Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community of India, Sachar Panel Bhawan, New Delhi, Chapter II, X and XII, (pp 9-25, 189-213, 237-243)
  • A.M. Shah. (1998). The family in India Critical Essays. New Delhi: Orient Longman. Selected Chapter
  • Patricia Uberoi (1994). Family Kinship and Marriage in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Selected Chapter
  • A. M. Shah (1968). Changes in the Indian Family: An Examination of Some Assumptions. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 3, No. 1/2, Annual Number (Jan., 1968), pp.127+129+131+133-134
  • Beteille, Andre. 1986. The concept of tribe with special reference to India. European Journal of Sociology. 27 (2): 296-318.
  • Sundar, Nandini. 2007. The Tribal Question, 1927-1950 and Afterword. In Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar. New Delhi: OUP.
  • Xaxa, Virginius. 1999. Tribes as the Indigenous Peoples of India. Economic and Political Weekly. 34(41): 3589-3595.
  • Srivastava Vinay, 2008.Concept of ‘Tribe’ in the Draft National Tribal Policy.Economic and Political Weekly,December 2008, pp29-35.
  • Das Veena and AshisNandy. “Violence, Victimhood, and the Language of Silence” Contributions to Indian Sociology 1985; 19; 177.
  • Das, Veena. “Anthropological Knowledge and Collective Violence: The Riots in Delhi, November1984”. Anthropology Today, Vol. 1, No. 3.(Jun., 1985), pp. 4-6.
  • Ambedkar, B.R. 1916. Caste in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development, Paper Presented at an Anthropology Seminar, Columbia University, on 9th May
  • Srinivas M.N. Ed. 2000, Caste: its twentieth Century Avatar, Penguin, New Delhi (Chapters- I, IX, X, XII) pp. 174-193, 203-220, 244-261
  • S. Deshpande “Mapping the Middle” in M. John, P.Jha& SS Jodhka (eds) Contested Transformations Tulika New Delhi 2006.
  • Baviskar, Amita and Raka Ray. (eds.) Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes. Routledge.(Selected chapters).
  • Imtiaz Ahmed, (1972) For a sociology of India. Contributions to Indian Sociology 6(1).
  • Parry, Jonathan. 1999. Introduction. In Parry, Breman and Kapadia (eds.) The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage.
  • D. Pocock “Sociologies urban and rural” in Contributions to Indian Sociology (Old Series) 1960.
  • P. Chatterjee “Is the Indian city becoming bourgeois at last?” in M.John, P.Jha& SS Jodhka (eds) Contested Transformations Tulika New Delhi 2006.
  • V. Dupont, E. Tarlo& D. Vidal (eds) Delhi: Urban space and human destinies, Manohar New Delhi 2000. (Ch.1 and Chapter by Emma Tarlo)
  • Veena Das and Michael Walton (2015). Political Leadership and the Urban Poor: Local Histories. Current Anthropology, Vol. 56, No. S11, Politics of the Urban Poor: Aesthetics,
  • Ethics, Volatility, Precarity (October 2015), pp. S44-S54.
  • Menon, N. & Nigam A. 2007.Power and Contestation: India after 1989, Zed Books, London, New York. (Chapter-I), pp. 15-36
  • Kabeer, N. 2008. Social Exclusion, Poverty and Discrimination: Towards an Analytical Framework, New Delhi: Critical Quest: 19-39
  • Janaki Nair “Social Municipalism and the new Metropolis” in M.John, P.Jha& SS Jodhka (eds) Contested Transformations Tulika New Delhi 2006.


  • Dumont L. and David F. Pocock. 1957. ‘For a Sociology of India’ Contributions to Indian Sociology I. 7-22.
  • Das, Veena. 2003."Social Sciences and the Publics." In The Oxford India Companion to Sociology and Social Anthropology, edited by Veena Das, 1-29. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press,
  • Baviskar, Amita. 2007. Indian Indigeneities: Adivasi Engagements with Hindu Nationalism in India. In Marisol de la Cadena and Orin Starn (eds.) Indigenous Experience Today. Oxford: Berg.
  • Vasavi, A.R. 2009. Suicides and the Making of India’s Agrarian Distress.South African Review of Sociology.40(1): 124-138.
  • Imtiaz Ahmed. 2000. Basic conflict of ‘we’ and ‘they’ between religious traditions , between Hindus ,Muslims, Christians in India’ . In Ahmed , I, Ghish , P. S. And Reifeld, Pluralism and Equality: Values in Indian Society and Politcs. New Delhi : Sage publications pp 156-179
  • Appadurai, A., 1989. “Transformation in the culture of agriculture.” In Contemporary Indian Traditions: Voices on Culture, Nature, and the Challenge of Change (ed.) C. Borden: 173-184. Washington Smithsonian Institution Press.
  • Sen, Samita. 2008. Gender and Class: women in Indian Industry 1890-1990 in Modern Asian Studies, Vol 42 (1), pp 75-116.
  • Kanungo, Pralay.2007 Globalization, the Diaspora and Hindutva in BhupinderBrar et al edited. Globalization and The Politics Of Identity In India, Pearson; Delhi
  • Deshpande, S.2004, Contemporary India: a sociological view, Viking, New Delhi (Chapter-5), pp.98-124
  • T. N. Madan (1966). Family and Kinship: A Study of the Pandits of Rural Kashmir, Asia Publishing House. Selected Chapter
  • Sumitha S. 2012; Bringing in, Living in, Falling out: Labour Market Transitions of Indian Plantation Sector, A Survey, NRPPD Discussion Paper 14, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.
  • Kamala Ganesh (2013). New Wine in Old Bottles?Family and Kinship Studies in the Bombay School. Sociological Bulletin, Vol. 62, No. 2, Special Issue on The Bombay School of Sociology: The Stalwarts and Their Legacies (May-August 2013), pp. 288-310.
  • Bettina E. Schmidt and Ingo W. Schroder Anthropology of Violence and Conflict Rutledge: London, 2001. (Select chapter )
  • Austin T. Turk. “Sociology of Terrorism”. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 30 (2004), pp. 271-286.