Monday, March 25, 2013

From System to structure

According to Dumont (1980), the caste system played a main role to exist the hierarchy in a society. He claims caste divides the whole Indian society into a larger number of hereditary groups distinguished from one another and connected together by three characteristics:
1. Separation on the basis of rules of the caste in matters of marriage and contact whether direct or indirect.
2. Interdependent of work or division of labor each group having in theory or by tradition, a profession from which their members can depart only within certain limits.
3. Hierarchy which ranks the groups as relatively superior or inferior to one another.

For him caste is set of relationships of economic, political and kinship systems, sustained by certain values which are mostly religious in nature. For more than a group in the ordinary sense, the caste is a state of mind which is expressed by the emergence, in various situations, of groups of various orders generally called caste. He calls caste system as a system of ideas and values which is a formal comprehensible rational system and his analysis is based on a single principle-the opposition of pure and impure. The pure here means superior in a hierarchy which belongs to so called Brahmins and impure are inferior which is belongs to low caste people who are excluded from in the society. To sum it up, he advocated the use of an Ideological and structuralism approach to the study of caste system and village social structure in India.

Dumont. (1980) “From the System to Structure:”The Pure and the Impure”, in Homo Hierarchius, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp.72-95.

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