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Sociology | Class 12 | Social Institutions: Continuity and Change


Communities and classes that are related to one another make up a population. These are supported and controlled by social interactions and institutions.

Caste, tribe, and family are the three main institutions of Indian society. A social structure called "caste" has existed for thousands of years.


The word "Caste" is derived from the Portuguese word "casta." In other words, it can also refer to a community or group of individuals. The term refers to a broad institutional system that is known by two separate titles in Indian languages (starting with the ancient Sanskrit), varna and jati.

Jati is a general phrase that can refer to any sort or kind of thing, including inanimate objects, living things, and even humans. The term "caste" is most frequently used in Indian languages as "jati," although it's noteworthy to notice that more and more people who speak Indian languages are starting to use the English word "caste."

Although this excludes a sizeable portion of the population made up of the "outcastes," foreigners, slaves, conquered peoples, and others, sometimes referred to as the panchamas or fifth category, the term "varna," literally "colour," is used to describe a four-fold division of society into brahmana, Kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra.


  • Ascribed status: determined by birth, you are born into your status, no choice, permanent.

  • System of rank and status hierarchy

  • Marital regulations: Being a member of a caste comes with marriage regulations. Caste groups are "endogamous," meaning that only other members of the group may marry.

  • Rules for eating and sharing food include what foods are allowed and prohibited, as well as who is allowed to share food with whom.

  • Castes often have sub-castes, and occasionally sub-castes may also have sub-sub-castes, which means that castes also contain divides within themselves. An organisation that operates in segments is what this is.

  • Brahmins were intended to be priests and instructors, Kshatriyas to be warriors, Vaishyas to be businesspeople or traders, and Shudras to serve the other castes and carry out all the menial tasks. In terms of occupation, there was no mobility.

Caste separation and differentiation principles:

Each caste's separation is unique in and of itself, with its own set of norms and guidelines. With a sense of commonality, pollution, purity, and endogamous marriage, there is a system of assigned rank and certain jobs.

  • Wholism and Hierarchy: Rather than the egalitarian caste system, each caste depends on the other caste system. Each caste has a position within the hierarchy.

  • Each caste has a specific occupation, but due to the hierarchical structure, the concepts of impurity and purity, and segmental distinctions, there is no social mobility.

Colonialism and Caste

Two things surprised the British when they arrived in India: the persistence of untouchability and the sheer number of subcastes that make up Indian culture. Upon observing this, They made the following decisions:

  • Take the Census first. to confirm the sizes and number of castes and subcastes.

  • They also desired to understand the values, viewpoints, traditions, etc. of various societal groups.

  • In addition, they established Land settlements around the subcontinent:

    • Zamindari: On behalf of the British, zamindars (landlords) were chosen to collect taxes. They did, however, take advantage of the farmers and collect more tax than necessary. The provinces of Bengal and the east adopted the system.

    • Ryotwari: They observed that the zamindari system was highly exploitative and that farmers made sizable profits during periods of high rates and production. So they gave farmers (ryots) in the Deccan region access to this system with limited leverage.

    • Mahalwari: Compared to the zamindari system, each village was given a head who was responsible for collecting taxes from the residents.

  • Fourth, they thought that these people needed to be taken care of and introduced the Government of India Act of 1935, using the words "Scheduled Caste" and "Scheduled Tribes."

Caste System and the Freedom Movement

Everyone joined the independence movement, including those from lower castes (untouchables). Many people, including Brahmin Mahatma Gandhi, Dalit BR Ambedkar, and Dalit Jyotiba Phule, worked for the advancement of Harijans and integrated it into the larger national movement.

Gandhi's opinions

He claimed that no social ills, such as the abolition of untouchability and others, should lead to Harijans being mistreated. It was necessary to elevate Harijans. The Brahmins' privileges and dominance will endure even after Harijans are elevated. His desire to include the underclass of Indian society was strong.

The caste system in modern India

Removing untouchability

Due to the protests of the upper caste, Article 17's enforcement was first problematic. Nevertheless, a consensus was eventually reached on it.

  • Constitution: According to the constitution, employment decisions should be made on the basis of qualifications, not factors like caste or gender. Since there are now concerns about SCs and STs, successful SCs and STs integrate into society, which elevates the status of SCs and STs.

  • Urban regions promoted industry, and regardless of caste, people were given job possibilities based on their qualifications and skills.

  • Today, however, people still provide positions depending on one's caste, for example, 80% of the Dalits in Ms. Mayawati's BSP.

  • Marriage and politics are the two areas where caste still plays a significant role. Inter-caste weddings are now permitted in metropolitan areas, although there are still reports of honour killings in rural communities because of such unions. When discussing politics, topics like as caste politicisation and reservation in political parties, educational systems, etc. come up.


When a lower caste member attempts to mimic or replicate an upper caste member without altering their caste.


  • better quality of life.

  • raise everyone's social standing.

  • The difference between the upper and lower castes is closing.


  • Their culture is being lost.

  • Since they imitate others, they automatically lose their superiority.

  • The position of women is lowered by copy traditions like dowry.

  • It is a positional adjustment rather than a structural one.

  • People of their caste are despised for mimicking others.

Caste in Dominance

Due to the Land Ceiling Act and other stipulations of the land reforms, the zamindar's land was sold off to marginal, small, and/or landless farmers after independence.

The middle/lower class landowners gained social, political, and economic influence when they bought the land. The dominating caste was made up of these people. Even a few shudras were able to land. Yadavas in Bihar, Jats in Punjab, Haryana, and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as Reddys and Khammans.

Upper Caste

  • The caste element is imperceptible to the upper caste.

  • More weight is placed on the Attained status than the Assigned status.

  • Because resources are readily available, life chances are improved (technological and educational).

  • Additionally, education is crucial.

Lower Caste

  • The lowest castes are distinguished by Caste.

  • Reservations are made for education, which elevates the castes.

  • Particularly in an occupation, assigned status is given more weight in rural communities.

  • The lower castes use caste to advance themselves by taking advantage of reservations.

  • Prior to using their caste to power themselves, they were without life clauses.

Tribal society

A tribe is a collection of people, frequently from related families, who live together and share a common language, culture, and history. Tribes are particularly prevalent among people who do not reside in towns or cities. 8.2% of India's population is made up of tribes.

They are also known as Janjatis, Adivasis (the planet's original inhabitants), vanjatis, and Harijans. They live in an egalitarian society with a hierarchy.

The same name, dialect, locale, profession, and culture. For instance, Gonds, Santhals, and Gujjars.

Tribal Societies are classified Tribes have been categorised according to their "permanent" and "acquired" attributes in terms of their positive traits.

Region, language, physical attributes, and biological habitat are examples of permanent traits.

India's tribal population is distributed geographically, although there are also concentrations in some places.

  • 85% of the population resides in "middle India," which stretches from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west to West Bengal and Orissa in the east. The region's heart is comprised of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, and portions of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. In the rest of India, 3% of people live, compared to over 11% in the North Eastern states.

  • The majority of the states in the North Eastern region have concentrations that are greater than 30%, with the exception of Assam. More than 60% and as much as 95% of the population are tribal in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

  • With the exception of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, all other states in the nation have a tribal population of less than 12%.

They are divided into four categories based on language.

  • Two of them, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian, are also shared by the remainder of the Indian populace, albeit tribes only make up around 1% and 3% of each of those languages, respectively.

  • Tribals, who make up 100% of the first group and more than 80% of the second, speak the other two language families, Austric and Tibeto-Burman.

  • Negrito, Australoid, Mongoloid, Dravidian, and Aryan classifications are used to classify people based on their physical racial characteristics.

The last two are common to the rest of India's people.

There is a wide range in population numbers, from almost seven million to certain Andamanese islanders who may number less a hundred.

The Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, Oraons, Minas, Bodos, and Mundas are the largest tribes, each numbering at least a million people.

According to the 2001 Census, there are 84 million people in all Indian tribes, or around 8.2% of the country's total population.

Acquired Traits

The manner of livelihood and the degree of integration into Hindu society serve as the two key criterion for classifications based on acquired features.

Tribes can be divided into fishermen, food gatherers and hunters, roving cultivators, peasants, and plantation and industrial workers based on their mode of subsistence.

The degree of assimilation into Hindu society is the most common classification in academic sociology, politics, and public affairs. You can interpret assimilation from the perspective of the tribes or—as has typically been the case—from that of the prevailing Hindu mainstream.

A important factor from the tribe's perspective, in addition to the degree of integration, is attitude toward Hindu society, with distinction between tribes that are favourably oriented toward Hinduism and those who fight or oppose it.

From a general perspective, tribes can be seen in terms of the status that Hindu society accords them, which can range from the high status awarded to some to the typically low status according to most.

Integration towards the mainstream.

tribal perspective

Due to reservations and improved possibilities, they desire to join tribes in order to elevate their position.

They don't want to associate with non-tribal groups because they don't want to compromise their culture, identity, or isolation.

Tribal elites who improved their rank and education were given positions and were given excellent treatment.

Other workers who are not as sporadic are mistreated. Additionally, people admire those who are skillful and disregard those who are not. 


  • Since they shouldn't be kept apart, the notion of a tribal group is questioned. They should mix in with the general populace because they are a part of our nation.

  • Both castes and tribals work together to fulfil their respective roles in society. We have Hindu fisherman, for instance.

  • Tribals-Not Always in Isolation

  • Although they weren't always alone, the British took advantage of the tribes when they arrived.

  • Tribalism is a term coined by the tribal people. Tribalism is the practise of the tribal people living separately from the non-tribal people in order to claim their uniqueness.

  • They played a significant position in Madhya Pradesh and have been a part of numerous kingdoms, including the Gonds. Many tribal people in Rajasthan were Rajputs and participated in the military system.

  • They were salt merchants. They lost their status under British administration and worked as casual labourers on plantations, where they were taken advantage of.

The public's perception of tribes

Roads were constructed by removing woods, which significantly altered tribal life (went through the forests). Tribals received loans from lenders who also imposed exorbitant interest rates.

Tribes objected, and British began reserving woodlands for themselves. portions of tribal land that are exclusively or only partially reserved for usage by tribe members.

Sociologists had the following two opinions about how people view tribal people:

Isolationists: The tribes should be allowed to maintain their solitude, but they shouldn't be taken advantage of by lenders.

Integrationists: They accept them as members of society, regard them as lower castes, and provide for their needs.

Constituent Assembly

Group of people who came together to formulate the constitution.

It required 2 years, 11 months.

People came from all social classes and backgrounds.

Numerous cases involving indigenous people and lower castes were taken.

There were specific blueprints, called "Tribal Plans," that talked about making reservations for them.

They were a part of the five-year plans.

Increase their status and integrate them through reservations.

Development at the national and tribal levels

Floods are avoided, power is produced, and irrigation systems are built by building hydroelectric projects. However, there is no rehabilitation for occupation after taking away land and removing people from their natural home.

For instance, the Polavaram Dam on the Godavari River and the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada have both wreaked havoc on the lives of thousands of tribal communities who depended on the forest for survival.

Due to their integration with society, tribal life has undergone significant transformation. The four spheres of social, cultural, political, and economic influence have all been affected. There have been numerous tribal movements and uprisings.

Manipur and Nagaland are two states in the North East that have been designated as disturbed zones. In addition, other states were established following persistent attempts from tribal groups. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Uttarakhand are a few examples.

Tribes no longer have the same freedoms as the rest of the nation and their civil rights have been restricted. Tribes still have no impact on the political climate of the recently formed states. Since the non-tribals have the majority of the authority, they frequently revolt violently.

This is due to the fact that non-tribals are still in power, more politically savvy, and powerful. The tribal members lack any political background. The central government and non-tribals make the actual choices.

Today, a new educated tribal middle class has developed. due to education and reservations. The number of jobs available has expanded, and status and living conditions have both improved. The upper class tribal members encouraged the lower caste tribal members to pursue education.

Tribal identity assertion is on the rise. Since the tribe members are receiving education, they want to be involved in the local development. They seek total dominance over all facets of life (social, economic, political and cultural).

They also seek to preserve their tribal identity and traditions. They are attempting to achieve "tribal consciousness."

Kinship and family


a collection of individuals who are connected to one another legally (via marriage) or biologically (by blood).

This enduring and universal connection is governed by a sense of belonging, security, and a bond of togetherness.

Family Classification

Regarding Size
  • a small nuclear family (Parents and children)

  • Joint – two or three generations coexist

  • Two or more siblings and their families can be considered extended.

  • Patrilocal: The girl moves into the boy's home after the wedding.

  • Matrilocal - the boy visits the girl's home after the marriage.

  • Patrilineal: Males adopt their father's last name.

  • The father is the link to the past.

  • The males inherit the property.

Matrilineal: The surname is that of the mother.

  • The mother is used to determine lineage.

  • Women are the ones who inherit property.

Bilinear - Shared property

  • A girl receives the moving goods (the jewellery and money).

  • The boy receives immovable property (land, house).

The Family in Its Many Forms

Patriarchy places all the critical decisions in the hands of the man.

In a matriarchal society, the female of the household is given power and authority.

The tribes of Khasi, Jaintia, and Garo in Meghalaya have matrilineal and matriarchal societies.

Kerala - The Nayyars

property is passed on from mother to daughter through inheritance and power (uncle to nephew)

In contrast to patriarchy, matriarchy has always been thought of as a theoretical notion. No historical or anthropological evidence exists for matriarchal society, or those where women hold power. Matrilineal cultures, or societies where women inherit property from their mothers but do not exercise authority over it or make decisions on matters of public policy, do exist, though.

Matrilineal systems are inconsistent

arises from the division between the system of authority and control and the line of succession and inheritance.

Contrary to the latter, which connects the mother's brother to the sister's son, the former, which links the mother to the daughter, conflicts with the latter.

A guy manages his sister's property and transfers power to his sister's son, but a woman inherits property from her mother and passes it on to her daughter.

Therefore, power is transferred from (maternal) uncle to nephew while inheritance is transferred from mother to daughter.

Men in the Khasi matrilineal system experience acute role conflict because of this. The duties they have to their natal home and those they have to their wife and kids conflict with one another.

Khasi women experience the strain brought on by such role conflict more severely. A wife can never be completely certain that her husband does not prefer his sister's home over her own.

The wife with whom he lives can always sway him away from his obligations to his natal house, so a sister will be wary of her brother's dedication to her welfare.

Women are more negatively impacted by the role conflict created in the Khasi matrilineal system than males are, in part because men hold power and women do not, and in part because the system is more forgiving of men when there is a rule violation.

In Khasi society, women wield only symbolic power; men are the real decision-makers. It is true that the system favours male Patrik in over male Patri-kin.

In other words, despite matrilineality, men wield all the sway in Khasi culture; the only distinction is that a man's mother's side relatives are more significant than those on his father's side.

Important terms

  • Community: A unique group whose members are linked by intentionally acknowledged family, cultural, and linguistic ties.

  • Colonialism is an ideology that calls for one nation to conquer, colonise, or subjugate another.

  • Caste: Describes the segmental stratification of society that is determined by birth.

  • A middle or upper middle caste with a sizable population and recently acquired land ownership rights is referred to as the dominant caste. These come from intermediary castes rather than the Brahmin, Kshatriya, or Vaishya Varna.

  • Endogamy: Marrying inside a socially or culturally established group to which the prospective spouse already belongs.

  • Family is a social institution made up of a number of people who are intimately connected to one another, with the older members of the family being in charge of raising the children.

  • Castes are arranged hierarchically according to location, with marriage taking place only within caste limits and hereditary professions being determined by birth.

  • Monogamy: Marriage is permitted whenever there is only one wife and whenever a woman has only one husband.

  • Marriage is a sexual relationship between two adults that is socially accepted and recognised as the beginning of a family.

  • Sanskritization is the term used to describe the purifying or assimilation of a member of a lower caste into an upper caste. By copying the rituals and social behaviours of the upper caste, it is upward social mobility.

  • Stratification is the hierarchical grouping of various social classes into subgroups or strata whose members all have roughly the same place in the hierarchy.

  • Tribe: A social group founded on shared ties of kinship, ethnicity, common history, or territorial political organisation. A tribe is made up of a number of families and lineages (or clans).

  • Untouchable: Members of the lowest castes who are thought to be so ritually impure that a simple touch will contaminate others.

  • A countrywide form of the caste system known as "varna," or "colour," divides society into four caste divisions called Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.


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