NCERT Textbook - Sociology and Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Sociology Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Sociology and Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


market that decides which subject
choice may increase or decrease your
chances in the job market. The third
and fourth advice complicate the matter
even more. It is not just our personal
effort or  just the job market that makes
a difference — our gender and family or
social background also matter.
Individual efforts matter a great deal
but do not necessarily define outcomes.
As we saw there are other social factors
that play an important role in the final
outcome. Here we have only mentioned
the ‘job market’, the ‘socioeconomic
background’ and ‘gender’. Can you
think of other factors?  We could well
ask, “Who decides what is a ‘good job’?”
Do all societies have similar notions of
what is a “good job?” Is money the
criteria? Or is it respect or social
recognition or individual satisfaction
that decides the worth of a job? Do
culture and social norms have any role
to play?
The individual student must study
hard to do well. But how well h/she
does is structured by a whole set of
societal factors. The job market is
defined by the needs of the economy.
CHAPTER 1
SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
I
INTRODUCTION
Let us begin with some suggestions
that are often made to young students
like you. One advice often made is,
“Study hard and you will do well in
life.” The second advice as often made
is, “ If you do this subject or set of
subjects you will have a better chance
of getting a good job in the future”. The
third could be, “ As a boy this does not
seem a correct choice of subject” or “As
a girl, do you think your choice of
subjects is a practical one?”  The fourth,
“Your family needs you to get a job soon
so why choose a profession that will
take a very long time” or “You will join
your family business so why do you
wish to do this subject?”
Let us examine the suggestions. Do
you think the first advice contradicts
the other three? For the first advice
suggests that if you work very hard, you
will do very well and get a good job.
The onus rests upon the individual. The
second advice suggests that apart from
your individual effort, there is a job
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


market that decides which subject
choice may increase or decrease your
chances in the job market. The third
and fourth advice complicate the matter
even more. It is not just our personal
effort or  just the job market that makes
a difference — our gender and family or
social background also matter.
Individual efforts matter a great deal
but do not necessarily define outcomes.
As we saw there are other social factors
that play an important role in the final
outcome. Here we have only mentioned
the ‘job market’, the ‘socioeconomic
background’ and ‘gender’. Can you
think of other factors?  We could well
ask, “Who decides what is a ‘good job’?”
Do all societies have similar notions of
what is a “good job?” Is money the
criteria? Or is it respect or social
recognition or individual satisfaction
that decides the worth of a job? Do
culture and social norms have any role
to play?
The individual student must study
hard to do well. But how well h/she
does is structured by a whole set of
societal factors. The job market is
defined by the needs of the economy.
CHAPTER 1
SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
I
INTRODUCTION
Let us begin with some suggestions
that are often made to young students
like you. One advice often made is,
“Study hard and you will do well in
life.” The second advice as often made
is, “ If you do this subject or set of
subjects you will have a better chance
of getting a good job in the future”. The
third could be, “ As a boy this does not
seem a correct choice of subject” or “As
a girl, do you think your choice of
subjects is a practical one?”  The fourth,
“Your family needs you to get a job soon
so why choose a profession that will
take a very long time” or “You will join
your family business so why do you
wish to do this subject?”
Let us examine the suggestions. Do
you think the first advice contradicts
the other three? For the first advice
suggests that if you work very hard, you
will do very well and get a good job.
The onus rests upon the individual. The
second advice suggests that apart from
your individual effort, there is a job
© NCERT
not to be republished
 2 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
The needs of the economy are again
determined by the economic and
political policies pursued by the
government. The chances of the
individual student are affected both by
these broader political and economic
measures as well as by the social
background of her/his family. This
gives us a preliminary sense of how
sociology studies human society as an
interconnected whole. And how society
and the individual interact with each
other. The problem of choosing subjects
in the senior secondary school is a
source of personal worry for the
individual student. That this is a
broader public issue, affecting students
as a collective entity is self evident. One
of the tasks of sociology is to unravel
the connection between a personal
problem and a public issue. This is the
first theme of this chapter.
We have already seen that a ‘good
job’ means different things to different
societies. The social esteem that a
particular kind of job has or does not
have for an individual depends on the
culture of his/her ‘relevant society’.
What do we mean by ‘relevant society’?
Does it mean the ‘society’ the individual
belongs to? Which society does the
individual belong to? Is it the
neighbourhood? Is it the community?
Is it the caste or tribe? Is it the
professional circle of the parents? Is it
the nation? Second, this chapter
therefore looks at how the individual in
modern times belongs to more than one
society. And how societies are unequal.
Third, this chapter introduces
sociology as a systematic study of
society, distinct from  philosophical and
religious reflections, as well as our
everyday common sense observation
about society. Fourth, this distinct way
of studying society can be better
understood if we look back historically
at the intellectual ideas and material
contexts within which sociology was
born and later grew. These ideas and
material developments were mainly
western but with global consequences.
Fifth, we look at this global aspect and
the manner in which  sociology emerged
in India. It is important to remember
that just as each of us have a
biography, so does a discipline.
Understanding the history of a
discipline helps understand the
discipline. Finally the scope of sociology
and its relationship to other disciplines
is discussed.
II
THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION:
THE PERSONAL PROBLEM AND THE
PUBLIC ISSUE
We began with a set of suggestions that
drew our attention to how the individual
and society are dialectically linked. This
is a point that sociologists over several
generations have been concerned with.
C. Wright Mills rests his vision of the
sociological imagination precisely in
the unravelling of how the personal and
public are related.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


market that decides which subject
choice may increase or decrease your
chances in the job market. The third
and fourth advice complicate the matter
even more. It is not just our personal
effort or  just the job market that makes
a difference — our gender and family or
social background also matter.
Individual efforts matter a great deal
but do not necessarily define outcomes.
As we saw there are other social factors
that play an important role in the final
outcome. Here we have only mentioned
the ‘job market’, the ‘socioeconomic
background’ and ‘gender’. Can you
think of other factors?  We could well
ask, “Who decides what is a ‘good job’?”
Do all societies have similar notions of
what is a “good job?” Is money the
criteria? Or is it respect or social
recognition or individual satisfaction
that decides the worth of a job? Do
culture and social norms have any role
to play?
The individual student must study
hard to do well. But how well h/she
does is structured by a whole set of
societal factors. The job market is
defined by the needs of the economy.
CHAPTER 1
SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
I
INTRODUCTION
Let us begin with some suggestions
that are often made to young students
like you. One advice often made is,
“Study hard and you will do well in
life.” The second advice as often made
is, “ If you do this subject or set of
subjects you will have a better chance
of getting a good job in the future”. The
third could be, “ As a boy this does not
seem a correct choice of subject” or “As
a girl, do you think your choice of
subjects is a practical one?”  The fourth,
“Your family needs you to get a job soon
so why choose a profession that will
take a very long time” or “You will join
your family business so why do you
wish to do this subject?”
Let us examine the suggestions. Do
you think the first advice contradicts
the other three? For the first advice
suggests that if you work very hard, you
will do very well and get a good job.
The onus rests upon the individual. The
second advice suggests that apart from
your individual effort, there is a job
© NCERT
not to be republished
 2 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
The needs of the economy are again
determined by the economic and
political policies pursued by the
government. The chances of the
individual student are affected both by
these broader political and economic
measures as well as by the social
background of her/his family. This
gives us a preliminary sense of how
sociology studies human society as an
interconnected whole. And how society
and the individual interact with each
other. The problem of choosing subjects
in the senior secondary school is a
source of personal worry for the
individual student. That this is a
broader public issue, affecting students
as a collective entity is self evident. One
of the tasks of sociology is to unravel
the connection between a personal
problem and a public issue. This is the
first theme of this chapter.
We have already seen that a ‘good
job’ means different things to different
societies. The social esteem that a
particular kind of job has or does not
have for an individual depends on the
culture of his/her ‘relevant society’.
What do we mean by ‘relevant society’?
Does it mean the ‘society’ the individual
belongs to? Which society does the
individual belong to? Is it the
neighbourhood? Is it the community?
Is it the caste or tribe? Is it the
professional circle of the parents? Is it
the nation? Second, this chapter
therefore looks at how the individual in
modern times belongs to more than one
society. And how societies are unequal.
Third, this chapter introduces
sociology as a systematic study of
society, distinct from  philosophical and
religious reflections, as well as our
everyday common sense observation
about society. Fourth, this distinct way
of studying society can be better
understood if we look back historically
at the intellectual ideas and material
contexts within which sociology was
born and later grew. These ideas and
material developments were mainly
western but with global consequences.
Fifth, we look at this global aspect and
the manner in which  sociology emerged
in India. It is important to remember
that just as each of us have a
biography, so does a discipline.
Understanding the history of a
discipline helps understand the
discipline. Finally the scope of sociology
and its relationship to other disciplines
is discussed.
II
THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION:
THE PERSONAL PROBLEM AND THE
PUBLIC ISSUE
We began with a set of suggestions that
drew our attention to how the individual
and society are dialectically linked. This
is a point that sociologists over several
generations have been concerned with.
C. Wright Mills rests his vision of the
sociological imagination precisely in
the unravelling of how the personal and
public are related.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 3 SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and
the relations between the two within society. That is its task and promise…
Perhaps the most fruitful distinction with which the sociological imagination
works is between ‘the personal troubles of the milieu’ and ‘the public issues
of social structure’... Troubles occur within the character of the individual
and within the range of his immediate relations with others; they have to do
with hisself and with those limited areas of social life of which he is directly
and personally aware... Issues have to do with matters that transcend these
local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life.
The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the
failure of individual men and women. When a society is industrialised, a
peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a
businessman. When classes rise or fall, a man is employed or unemployed;
when the rate of investment goes up or down, a man takes new heart or goes
broke. When wars happen, an insurance salesman becomes a rocket
launcher; a store clerk, a radar man; a wife lives alone; a child grows up
without a father. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society
can be understood without understanding both... (Mills 1959).
A homeless couple
Activity 1
Read the text from Mills carefully. Then examine the visual and  report below.
Do you notice how the visual is of a poor and homeless couple? The sociological
imagination helps to understand and explain homelessness as a public issue.
Can you identify what could be the causes for homelessness? Different groups
in your class can collect information on possible causes for example, employment
possibilities, rural to urban migration, etc. Discuss these.  Do you notice how
the state considers homelessness as a public issue that requires concrete
measures to be taken, for instance, the Indira Awas Yojana?
The Indira Awas Yojana,
operationalised from 1999-
2000 is  a major scheme by
the government’s Ministry of
Rural Development (MORD)
and Housing and Urban
Development Corporation
(HUDCO) to construct houses
free of cost for the poor and
the homeless. Can you think
of other issues that show the
connection between personal
problems and public issues?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


market that decides which subject
choice may increase or decrease your
chances in the job market. The third
and fourth advice complicate the matter
even more. It is not just our personal
effort or  just the job market that makes
a difference — our gender and family or
social background also matter.
Individual efforts matter a great deal
but do not necessarily define outcomes.
As we saw there are other social factors
that play an important role in the final
outcome. Here we have only mentioned
the ‘job market’, the ‘socioeconomic
background’ and ‘gender’. Can you
think of other factors?  We could well
ask, “Who decides what is a ‘good job’?”
Do all societies have similar notions of
what is a “good job?” Is money the
criteria? Or is it respect or social
recognition or individual satisfaction
that decides the worth of a job? Do
culture and social norms have any role
to play?
The individual student must study
hard to do well. But how well h/she
does is structured by a whole set of
societal factors. The job market is
defined by the needs of the economy.
CHAPTER 1
SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
I
INTRODUCTION
Let us begin with some suggestions
that are often made to young students
like you. One advice often made is,
“Study hard and you will do well in
life.” The second advice as often made
is, “ If you do this subject or set of
subjects you will have a better chance
of getting a good job in the future”. The
third could be, “ As a boy this does not
seem a correct choice of subject” or “As
a girl, do you think your choice of
subjects is a practical one?”  The fourth,
“Your family needs you to get a job soon
so why choose a profession that will
take a very long time” or “You will join
your family business so why do you
wish to do this subject?”
Let us examine the suggestions. Do
you think the first advice contradicts
the other three? For the first advice
suggests that if you work very hard, you
will do very well and get a good job.
The onus rests upon the individual. The
second advice suggests that apart from
your individual effort, there is a job
© NCERT
not to be republished
 2 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
The needs of the economy are again
determined by the economic and
political policies pursued by the
government. The chances of the
individual student are affected both by
these broader political and economic
measures as well as by the social
background of her/his family. This
gives us a preliminary sense of how
sociology studies human society as an
interconnected whole. And how society
and the individual interact with each
other. The problem of choosing subjects
in the senior secondary school is a
source of personal worry for the
individual student. That this is a
broader public issue, affecting students
as a collective entity is self evident. One
of the tasks of sociology is to unravel
the connection between a personal
problem and a public issue. This is the
first theme of this chapter.
We have already seen that a ‘good
job’ means different things to different
societies. The social esteem that a
particular kind of job has or does not
have for an individual depends on the
culture of his/her ‘relevant society’.
What do we mean by ‘relevant society’?
Does it mean the ‘society’ the individual
belongs to? Which society does the
individual belong to? Is it the
neighbourhood? Is it the community?
Is it the caste or tribe? Is it the
professional circle of the parents? Is it
the nation? Second, this chapter
therefore looks at how the individual in
modern times belongs to more than one
society. And how societies are unequal.
Third, this chapter introduces
sociology as a systematic study of
society, distinct from  philosophical and
religious reflections, as well as our
everyday common sense observation
about society. Fourth, this distinct way
of studying society can be better
understood if we look back historically
at the intellectual ideas and material
contexts within which sociology was
born and later grew. These ideas and
material developments were mainly
western but with global consequences.
Fifth, we look at this global aspect and
the manner in which  sociology emerged
in India. It is important to remember
that just as each of us have a
biography, so does a discipline.
Understanding the history of a
discipline helps understand the
discipline. Finally the scope of sociology
and its relationship to other disciplines
is discussed.
II
THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION:
THE PERSONAL PROBLEM AND THE
PUBLIC ISSUE
We began with a set of suggestions that
drew our attention to how the individual
and society are dialectically linked. This
is a point that sociologists over several
generations have been concerned with.
C. Wright Mills rests his vision of the
sociological imagination precisely in
the unravelling of how the personal and
public are related.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 3 SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and
the relations between the two within society. That is its task and promise…
Perhaps the most fruitful distinction with which the sociological imagination
works is between ‘the personal troubles of the milieu’ and ‘the public issues
of social structure’... Troubles occur within the character of the individual
and within the range of his immediate relations with others; they have to do
with hisself and with those limited areas of social life of which he is directly
and personally aware... Issues have to do with matters that transcend these
local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life.
The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the
failure of individual men and women. When a society is industrialised, a
peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a
businessman. When classes rise or fall, a man is employed or unemployed;
when the rate of investment goes up or down, a man takes new heart or goes
broke. When wars happen, an insurance salesman becomes a rocket
launcher; a store clerk, a radar man; a wife lives alone; a child grows up
without a father. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society
can be understood without understanding both... (Mills 1959).
A homeless couple
Activity 1
Read the text from Mills carefully. Then examine the visual and  report below.
Do you notice how the visual is of a poor and homeless couple? The sociological
imagination helps to understand and explain homelessness as a public issue.
Can you identify what could be the causes for homelessness? Different groups
in your class can collect information on possible causes for example, employment
possibilities, rural to urban migration, etc. Discuss these.  Do you notice how
the state considers homelessness as a public issue that requires concrete
measures to be taken, for instance, the Indira Awas Yojana?
The Indira Awas Yojana,
operationalised from 1999-
2000 is  a major scheme by
the government’s Ministry of
Rural Development (MORD)
and Housing and Urban
Development Corporation
(HUDCO) to construct houses
free of cost for the poor and
the homeless. Can you think
of other issues that show the
connection between personal
problems and public issues?
© NCERT
not to be republished
 4 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
This question of what to focus in
society is indeed central to sociology.
We can take Satyajit Ray’s comments
further and wonder whether his
depiction of the village is romantic.
It would be interesting to contrast this
with a sociologist’s account of the Dalit
in the village below.
The first time I saw him, he was
sitting on the dusty road in
front of one of the small thatch-
roofed tea shops in the village
with his glass and saucer
placed conspicuously beside him—
a silent signal to the shopkeeper
that an Untouchable wanted to buy
some tea. Muli was a gaunt forty-
year-old with betel-blackened teeth
who wore his long hair swept back
(Freeman 1978).
A quote from Amartya Sen perhaps
illustrates well how inequality is central
to differences among societies.
Some Indians are rich; most are
not. Some are very well educated;
others are illiterate. Some lead
easy lives of luxury; others toil hard
for little reward. Some are politically
powerful; others cannot influence
anything. Some have great
opportunities for advancement in
life: others lack them altogether.
Some are treated with respect by
the police; others are treated like
dirt. These are different kinds of
inequality, and each of them
requires serious attention (Sen
2005:210-11).
III
PLURALITIES AND INEQUALITIES
AMONG SOCIETIES
In the contemporary world we belong,
in a sense, to more than one ‘society’.
When amidst foreigners reference to
‘our society’ may mean ‘Indian society’,
but when amongst fellow Indians we
may use the term ‘our society’ to denote
a linguistic or ethnic community, a
religious or caste or tribal society.
This diversity makes deciding
which ‘society’ we are talking about
difficult. But perhaps this difficulty
of mapping society is not confined to
sociologists alone as the comment below
will show.
While reflecting on what to focus
on in his films, the great Indian film
maker Satyajit Ray wondered:
What should you put in your films?
What can you leave out? Would you
leave the city behind and go to the
village where cows graze in the
endless fields and the shepherd
plays the flute? You can make a
film here that would be pure and
fresh and have the delicate rhythm
of a boatman’s song.
Or would you rather go back in
time-way back to the Epics,
where the gods and demons took
sides in the great battle where
brothers killed brothers…
Or would you rather stay where
you are, right in the present, in
the heart of this monstrous,
teeming, bewildering city, and try
to orchestrate its dizzying contrasts
of sight and sound and milieu?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


market that decides which subject
choice may increase or decrease your
chances in the job market. The third
and fourth advice complicate the matter
even more. It is not just our personal
effort or  just the job market that makes
a difference — our gender and family or
social background also matter.
Individual efforts matter a great deal
but do not necessarily define outcomes.
As we saw there are other social factors
that play an important role in the final
outcome. Here we have only mentioned
the ‘job market’, the ‘socioeconomic
background’ and ‘gender’. Can you
think of other factors?  We could well
ask, “Who decides what is a ‘good job’?”
Do all societies have similar notions of
what is a “good job?” Is money the
criteria? Or is it respect or social
recognition or individual satisfaction
that decides the worth of a job? Do
culture and social norms have any role
to play?
The individual student must study
hard to do well. But how well h/she
does is structured by a whole set of
societal factors. The job market is
defined by the needs of the economy.
CHAPTER 1
SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
I
INTRODUCTION
Let us begin with some suggestions
that are often made to young students
like you. One advice often made is,
“Study hard and you will do well in
life.” The second advice as often made
is, “ If you do this subject or set of
subjects you will have a better chance
of getting a good job in the future”. The
third could be, “ As a boy this does not
seem a correct choice of subject” or “As
a girl, do you think your choice of
subjects is a practical one?”  The fourth,
“Your family needs you to get a job soon
so why choose a profession that will
take a very long time” or “You will join
your family business so why do you
wish to do this subject?”
Let us examine the suggestions. Do
you think the first advice contradicts
the other three? For the first advice
suggests that if you work very hard, you
will do very well and get a good job.
The onus rests upon the individual. The
second advice suggests that apart from
your individual effort, there is a job
© NCERT
not to be republished
 2 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
The needs of the economy are again
determined by the economic and
political policies pursued by the
government. The chances of the
individual student are affected both by
these broader political and economic
measures as well as by the social
background of her/his family. This
gives us a preliminary sense of how
sociology studies human society as an
interconnected whole. And how society
and the individual interact with each
other. The problem of choosing subjects
in the senior secondary school is a
source of personal worry for the
individual student. That this is a
broader public issue, affecting students
as a collective entity is self evident. One
of the tasks of sociology is to unravel
the connection between a personal
problem and a public issue. This is the
first theme of this chapter.
We have already seen that a ‘good
job’ means different things to different
societies. The social esteem that a
particular kind of job has or does not
have for an individual depends on the
culture of his/her ‘relevant society’.
What do we mean by ‘relevant society’?
Does it mean the ‘society’ the individual
belongs to? Which society does the
individual belong to? Is it the
neighbourhood? Is it the community?
Is it the caste or tribe? Is it the
professional circle of the parents? Is it
the nation? Second, this chapter
therefore looks at how the individual in
modern times belongs to more than one
society. And how societies are unequal.
Third, this chapter introduces
sociology as a systematic study of
society, distinct from  philosophical and
religious reflections, as well as our
everyday common sense observation
about society. Fourth, this distinct way
of studying society can be better
understood if we look back historically
at the intellectual ideas and material
contexts within which sociology was
born and later grew. These ideas and
material developments were mainly
western but with global consequences.
Fifth, we look at this global aspect and
the manner in which  sociology emerged
in India. It is important to remember
that just as each of us have a
biography, so does a discipline.
Understanding the history of a
discipline helps understand the
discipline. Finally the scope of sociology
and its relationship to other disciplines
is discussed.
II
THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION:
THE PERSONAL PROBLEM AND THE
PUBLIC ISSUE
We began with a set of suggestions that
drew our attention to how the individual
and society are dialectically linked. This
is a point that sociologists over several
generations have been concerned with.
C. Wright Mills rests his vision of the
sociological imagination precisely in
the unravelling of how the personal and
public are related.
© NCERT
not to be republished
 3 SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
The sociological imagination enables us to grasp history and biography and
the relations between the two within society. That is its task and promise…
Perhaps the most fruitful distinction with which the sociological imagination
works is between ‘the personal troubles of the milieu’ and ‘the public issues
of social structure’... Troubles occur within the character of the individual
and within the range of his immediate relations with others; they have to do
with hisself and with those limited areas of social life of which he is directly
and personally aware... Issues have to do with matters that transcend these
local environments of the individual and the range of his inner life.
The facts of contemporary history are also facts about the success and the
failure of individual men and women. When a society is industrialised, a
peasant becomes a worker; a feudal lord is liquidated or becomes a
businessman. When classes rise or fall, a man is employed or unemployed;
when the rate of investment goes up or down, a man takes new heart or goes
broke. When wars happen, an insurance salesman becomes a rocket
launcher; a store clerk, a radar man; a wife lives alone; a child grows up
without a father. Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society
can be understood without understanding both... (Mills 1959).
A homeless couple
Activity 1
Read the text from Mills carefully. Then examine the visual and  report below.
Do you notice how the visual is of a poor and homeless couple? The sociological
imagination helps to understand and explain homelessness as a public issue.
Can you identify what could be the causes for homelessness? Different groups
in your class can collect information on possible causes for example, employment
possibilities, rural to urban migration, etc. Discuss these.  Do you notice how
the state considers homelessness as a public issue that requires concrete
measures to be taken, for instance, the Indira Awas Yojana?
The Indira Awas Yojana,
operationalised from 1999-
2000 is  a major scheme by
the government’s Ministry of
Rural Development (MORD)
and Housing and Urban
Development Corporation
(HUDCO) to construct houses
free of cost for the poor and
the homeless. Can you think
of other issues that show the
connection between personal
problems and public issues?
© NCERT
not to be republished
 4 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
This question of what to focus in
society is indeed central to sociology.
We can take Satyajit Ray’s comments
further and wonder whether his
depiction of the village is romantic.
It would be interesting to contrast this
with a sociologist’s account of the Dalit
in the village below.
The first time I saw him, he was
sitting on the dusty road in
front of one of the small thatch-
roofed tea shops in the village
with his glass and saucer
placed conspicuously beside him—
a silent signal to the shopkeeper
that an Untouchable wanted to buy
some tea. Muli was a gaunt forty-
year-old with betel-blackened teeth
who wore his long hair swept back
(Freeman 1978).
A quote from Amartya Sen perhaps
illustrates well how inequality is central
to differences among societies.
Some Indians are rich; most are
not. Some are very well educated;
others are illiterate. Some lead
easy lives of luxury; others toil hard
for little reward. Some are politically
powerful; others cannot influence
anything. Some have great
opportunities for advancement in
life: others lack them altogether.
Some are treated with respect by
the police; others are treated like
dirt. These are different kinds of
inequality, and each of them
requires serious attention (Sen
2005:210-11).
III
PLURALITIES AND INEQUALITIES
AMONG SOCIETIES
In the contemporary world we belong,
in a sense, to more than one ‘society’.
When amidst foreigners reference to
‘our society’ may mean ‘Indian society’,
but when amongst fellow Indians we
may use the term ‘our society’ to denote
a linguistic or ethnic community, a
religious or caste or tribal society.
This diversity makes deciding
which ‘society’ we are talking about
difficult. But perhaps this difficulty
of mapping society is not confined to
sociologists alone as the comment below
will show.
While reflecting on what to focus
on in his films, the great Indian film
maker Satyajit Ray wondered:
What should you put in your films?
What can you leave out? Would you
leave the city behind and go to the
village where cows graze in the
endless fields and the shepherd
plays the flute? You can make a
film here that would be pure and
fresh and have the delicate rhythm
of a boatman’s song.
Or would you rather go back in
time-way back to the Epics,
where the gods and demons took
sides in the great battle where
brothers killed brothers…
Or would you rather stay where
you are, right in the present, in
the heart of this monstrous,
teeming, bewildering city, and try
to orchestrate its dizzying contrasts
of sight and sound and milieu?
© NCERT
not to be republished
 5 SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIETY
Discuss the visuals
What kind of pluralities and inequalities do they show?
© NCERT
not to be republished
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