Social Institutions: Continuity and Change – CBSE Notes for Class 12 Sociology

Social Institutions: Continuity and Change – CBSE Notes for Class 12 Sociology


I. Caste
The term is derived from the Portuguese word ‘casta’which means pure breed. In other words it also means a group/community of people. Caste is also called ‘jati’

1. Ascribed status: determined by birth, you are bom into your status, no choice, permanent.
2. Hierarchical System

3. Endogamous Marriage: Marriage within your caste but outside your gotra, there are honour killings associated with intercaste marriage.
4. Concept of communalist: Each caste has its own rules and regulations in terms of food, rituals, belief, norms etc. and the members have to follow them strictly.
5. Concept of pollution purity: Brahmins are considered as superior and pure and shudras were considered as inferior and impure, hence if a lower caste person touched an upper caste person they considered themselves as impure and go through rituals to clean themselves.
6. Segmental Division: The whole society is divided into castes and sub-castes.
7. Occupation: Brahmins were meant to be priests, teacher, kshatriyas were meant to be warriors, vaishyas were meant to be businessmen or traders, shudras were meant to serve the rest and do all the dirty work.
8. No social mobility: There was no mobility in terms of occupation.
Principles of Caste
1. Differentiation and Separation: Separation in each caste is distinct by itself and has its own rules and regulations:
• Ascribed status
• Occupation
• Endogamous marriage
• Concept of communality
• Concept of pollution and purity
2. Wholism and Hierarchy: Each caste is dependent on the other caste system rather than
egalitarian system. Each caste has its place in the hierarchal system.
• Each caste also has its own occupation, but there was no social mobility.
• Hierarchal system
• Concept of pollution and purity
• Segmental division
Caste and Colonialism
• When the British came to India, they were shocked by two things:
(i) Untouchability
(ii) The number of sub-castes
• They decided to take some initiatives:
(i) Census: To make sure of number and sizes of the castes and sub-castes.
(ii) They wanted to know the values, beliefs, customs, etc of different sections of society,
(iii) Land settlements
• There were three types:
(i) Zamindari: The zamindars/landlords were appointed to collect tax on behalf of the British. However they exploited the farmers and collected more tax than required.
(ii) Ryatwari: They saw that there was a lot of exploitation in the zamindari system. The head of the family collected revenue from the members, this ensures much less exploitation from the zamindari system.
(iii) Mahalwari: Each village was appointed a head who collected taxes from the villagers and this also ensured much less exploitation than the zamindari system.
• Government of India Act of 1935: They used the term Scheduled caste’ and Scheduled Tribes’ and they felt that these people should be looked after.
Caste System and Freedom Struggle
• Everyone came together, including the lower caste people (untouchables)
• Names used for the lower caste: Shudras —» untouchables —» harijans -» schedule castes dalits.
• Many people fought for the upliftment of the Harijan and made it part of the national movement.
e.g. Mahatma Gandhi (Brahmin), BR Ambedkar (Dalit), and Jyotiba Phule (Dalit)
Gandhi’s views
• Harijans should not be ill-treated which includes removal of untouchability and other social evils.
• Upliftment of Harijans was required.
• Even when Harijans are uplifted, the rights and superiority of the Brahmins will remain.
• They should be included in the national movement.
Caste in Contemporary India
• Abolition of untouchability: The implementation of Article 17 was difficult initially because of upper caste people protest.
• Constitution: People should be given jobs without considering castes etc, it should be based on achievements. Now there are reservation for SCs and STs therefore successful SCs and STs become a part of the mainstream leading to the upliftment of the SCs and STs.
• In urban areas, industries were encouraged and job opportunities were given to people irrespective of their caste and based on their skill and qualification.
• However, till today in small areas etc, people still offer jobs based on ones caste e.g. in BSP of Ms Mayawati there are 80% dalits.
• Two aspects where caste is still important
— Marriage– rural areas – honour killings for inter-caste marriage, urban areas – inter caste marriages now accepted.
— Politics– reservation in educational systems, parties etc. It is also called politicisation of caste.
When the lower caste tries to copy/imitate, model of the upper caste, without changing their
• Better standard of living.
• Improve social status of everyone.
• The gap between upper caste and lower caste is reduced.
• Their culture gets eroded.
• They automatically become inferior because they copy them.
• Copy practices such as dowry which declines the position of women.
• It is a positional change, not a structural change.
• People look down to people of their own caste of copying others.
How do they copy?
• Tribals give up eating non-veg and give up drinking alcohol. They thought by giving up their practices, people would consider them of a higher caste/status/ position.
Dominant Caste
After independence there was the zamindari system where the zamindar’s land was sold off to marginal, small and/or landless farmers due to the Land Ceiling Act.
The zamindars thus sold off their land to work in the industries.
Thus the middle/medium landowners acquired the land.
So they had social, political and economic power.
These people comprised of the dominant caste.
Even some shudras got land.
Upper Caste
• Caste is invisible.
• Achieved status is given more importance than the ascribed status.
• Life chances are better.
• Education also plays a very important role.
• Had resources available (technological and educational).
• Qualifications will be considered.
Lower Caste
• Caste is visible.
• For education there is reservations and it leads to upliftment of the castes.
• In rural areas especially in occupation more importance is given to ascribed status.
• The lower castes take advantages of reservations using caste to push themselves forward.
• They did not have life clauses before but now they use their caste to power themselves.
Tribal Community
• The total population of tribes in India is 8.2%.
• They are also called Janjatis, Adivasis (first inhabitants of our planet), vanjatis and Harijans.
• Have hierarchy but have an egalitarian society.
• Share same name, language, area, occupation, culture e.g. Gonds, Santhals, Gujjars.
• Isolated community are trying to get them into mainstream.
Classification of Tribal Societies
1. Features:
Permanent Traits
(a) Geographical/Territorial System North and North East Zone
(i) Maximum Tribes
(ii) Highest concentration of tribes
For example, Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir,
Tribes—Nagas, Khasis, Bodos and Kemis
(b) Central Zone
For example, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha.
Tribes—Santhals, Gonds, Bhils
(c) Southern Zone
For example, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh.
Tribes—Todas, Kotas and Chenclues.
(d) Western Zone
For example Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra.
Tribes—Santhals, Gonds, Bhils, Gujjars and Riva
(e) West Bengal and Odisha,
Not very populated
2. Size
(a) 1 million
– Bodos, Khasis, Mundas
(b) 4 million
– Gonds, Santhals, Bhils
3. Language 
(a) Aryans—North Indians-Punjabi, Hindi, Sanskrit
(b) Dravidians-Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, South Indian, Chenclurs and Kotas
(c) Austric-Influenced from Austria, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, North belt.
(d) Tibeto-Burman, Nagas and Bodos and North East.
-> The language is no longer in the purest form due to intermingling of tribes.
4. Race
Differentiation based on physical characteristics:
(i) Aryans-(North) Fair (it) Dravidian-(South) Dark
(in’) Negroid-(Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka) very dark
(iv) Mongolian-(North East) oriental eyes
5. Acquired Traits
(i) Occupation (ii) Coastal
(iii) Fishing, coconut, palm trees, salt
6. Forests
—» Hunting, food gathering, honey collection, depends on geography and livelihood availability of resources.
—> Closer to urban areas-workers in factories, industries.
7. Cultivators
—» Agriculture and shifting cultivation.
—> Settle down in a place and do farming in fertile areas.
-» Plantations
► Tea and coffee plantations in Assam Nilgiri and Ooty
8. Integration towards the mainstream
• Tribal point of view
-» They want to be part of non-tribals due to reservations, better opportunities so that their status gets uplifted.
-» They didn’t want to be part of non tribals because they didn’t want to lose their identity and wanted to be isolated, didn’t want to lose their culture.
• Non Tribal point of view
-» Tribal elite-upliftment of status, educated gained a position and are treated very well.
—» Others who are not as high casual laboures are treated badly.
-» Give respect to skilled and don’t respect the unskilled.
The definition of tribals is criticized, since they should not be isolated.
• They are part of our country and should be mixed with the large population.
• Castes are doing tribal occupation and tribals are doing caste occupation.
• We have Hindus who are fishermen.
Tribals-Not Always in Isolation
They were not always isolated, but when the British came, they exploited tribals.
• The tribals came up with a name ‘tribalism’.
• They have been part of many kingdoms like the Gonds and they had a very important role in Madhya Pradesh.
• In Rajasthan, many tribals were a part of the Rajput and they were a part of military set up.
• They were traders in salt.
• During British rule, they lost their status and became casual labours in plantations and people exploited them.
• Tribalism is when the tribal are by themselves live in isolation to say that they are different from the non-tribal.
Mainstream Attitudes Towards Tribes Socio-Economic and Political
• Forests were cleared to build roads, life of tribals changed drastically (went through the forests).
• Moneylenders gave money to tribal and charged huge rates of interest.
• During this period mining was introduced.
• British started reserving forests for themselves when tribals protested. Exclusive
‘ reserved areas or partially reserved areas of tribal land for tribals to use.
• Sociologists had two views:
1. Isolationists: Let the tribals have their privacy, but they should not be exploited by moneylenders.
2. Integrationalists: They are a part of society, integrate them and treat them as lower classes castes and give them the facilities.
 Constituent Assembly
• Group of people who came together to formulate the constitution.
• It took 2 years and 11 months.
• People came from all areas and sections of society.
• A lot of case was taken about the lower caste and tribals.
• There were special plans, Tribal Plans’ that spoke about giving them reservations.
• They were included in the 5 years plans.
• Integrate them through reservations and uplift their status.
National Development Vs Tribal Development
1. Building up of hydroelectric projects by cutting the forests.
• It prevents floods, generates electricity and irrigation facilities.
• Taking away land and occupation from natural habitat.
• No rehabilitation for occupation.
For example:
(i) Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada (ii) Pollavaram Dam on river Godavari
2. Forests are rich in mineral resources and mining projects take place. This displaces tribals.
3. Non tribals who come in for setting up resorts, hotels for recreation disrupt life of tribals.
4. So many people come in the tribal culture get coded and diluted. e.g. North Eastern states, Jharkhand are most affected.
Tribal Identity Today
The life of the tribals has changed tremendously because of their incorporation into mainstream.
It has had an impact on all four areas social, cultural, political and economic. A lot of tribal
revolts and movements have taken place in rebellion.
1. This has resulted in a few changes
2. In some states in North East in Manipur and Nagaland are declared as disturbed areas.
• The main power is present with the non-tribals, thus they have violent revolts.
• The civil rights have been curtailed and tribals do not enjoy same freedom as rest of the country do not have same rights.
• The political situation of the newly formed states is still not in the control of the tribals.
• This is because the non tribals are more politically powerful, knowledgeable and still in control.
• The tribals do not have any political experience.
• Actual decisions are taken by the non-tribals, central government.
3. A new educated middle class of tribals has emerged today.
• Because of reservation, they have been educated.
• The job opportunities have increased, improved standard of living, status improved.
• This tribal elite influenced the lower class tribals to educate themselves.
• They are creating awareness among the tribal community, occupying jobs.
• Assertion of tribal identity is on the rise. Because the tribals are being educated they want to be part of the development taking place in their areas.
• They want control over all aspects of life (social, economic, political and cultural). At the same time, they want to maintain their tribal identity, their culture.
• They want to develop a ‘tribal consciousness’.
Family and Kinship
• A group of people who are related to each other either legally (by marriage) or biologically (by blood).
• A unit of people living together as sanctioned by society.
— Bond of togetherness, security and a sense of sacrifice, belongingness.
— It is a universal and permanent relationship.
— A person related to the other biologically or legally.
— Biologically (blood)-consanguineous e.g. parents.
— Legally (marriage)-allinal e.g. spouse in laws
Classification of Family 
• Size
1. Nuclear – small family (Parents and children)
2. Joint – 2 or 3 generations live together
3. Extended – 2 or more siblings live together with their families.
• Residence
1. Patrilocal – after marriage girl goes to boys house.
2. Matrilocal – after marriage boy goes to girls house.
3. Neolocal – couple sets up their own house.
• Descent
1. Patrilineal
— Males surname is adopted.
— Lineage is traced through the father.
— Property is inherited by the males.
2. Matrilineal
— Mother’s surname is used.
— Lineage is traced through the mother.
— Property is inherited by the females.
3. Bilinear
— Property is shared.
— Movable property goes to girl (the jewellery and money).
— Immovable property goes to the boy (land, house).
The Diverse Forms of the Family
1. Patriarchal
Power and authority is with the male who makes all the important decisions.
2. Matriarchal
Power and authority is given to the female of the house.
Matrilineal and Matriarchal Society is found in Meghalaya- Khasi, Jaintia, Garo tribes Kerala – Nayyar family
• Property goes from mother to daughter inheritance (mother to daughter) control (uncle to nephew)
Role conflict
• Women (wife/sister) whether my brother is paying more attention to my family or his family.
• Man (husband/brother)-should/pay more attention to my family or my sister family.
• Role conflict is more for the women (women possess only ‘token’ authority, men are the ‘defacto’ power holders.
• Despite matriling, men are the power holders.

Words That Matter:

1. Community: A distinctive group whose members are connected to each other by consciously recognised commonalities and bond of kinship, language and culture.
2. Colonialism: An ideology by which a country seeks to conquer and colonise or forcibly rule over another.
3. Caste: Refers to the segmental division of stratification in society acquired by birth.
4. Dominate caste: A middle or upper middle caste with a large population and newly acquired land ownership rights. These are not from the Brahmins, Kshatriya or Vaishya Varna but from intermediate castes.
5. Endogamy: To marry within a culturally defined group of which concerned individual is already a member.
6. Family: Is a social institution which involves a group of persons directly linked by his connection, the adult members of which assume responsibility of caring for children.
7. Jati: The word for caste, a region specific hierarchical ordering of castes that marry within their boundries, pursue hereditary occupations and are fixed by birth.
8. Monogamy: Marriage allowed at any given time with one wife and in case of woman with only one husband.
9. Marriage: A socially acknowledged and approved sexual union between two adult individuals to become kin to one another.
10. Sanskritisation: Concept given by a process of purification or absorption of a lower caste individual upto upper caste. It is upward social mobility by imitating the ritual and social behaviour of upper caste.
11. Stratification: The hierarchical arrangement of different segments of society into strata or subgroups whose members share the same general position in the hierarchy.
12. Tribe: A social group consisting of collection of families and lineages (or clans) based on shared ties of kinship, ethnicity common history or territorial political organisation.
13. Untouchable: Members of the lowest castes, considered to be ritually impure to such an extent that they cause pollution by mere touch.
14. Varna: Literally, ‘colour’, a nationwide version of the caste system dividing society into four hierarchically ordered varnas or caste group named Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

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