NCERT Textbook - Introducing Indian Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Sociology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Introducing Indian Society Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


© NCERT
not to be republished
Indian Society
2
I  n one important sense, Sociology is unlike any other subject that you may have
studied.  It is a subject in which no one starts from zero – everyone already
knows something about society. Other subjects are learnt because they are taught
(at school, at home, or elsewhere); but much of our knowledge about society is
acquired without explicit teaching.  Because it is such an integral part of the
process of growing up, knowledge about society seems to be acquired “naturally”
or “automatically”.  No child is expected to already know something about History,
Geography, Psychology or Economics when they come to school.  But even a six
year old already knows something about society and social relationships.  It is all
the more true then, that, as young eighteen year old adults, you know a lot about
the society you live in without ever having studied it.
This prior knowledge or familiarity with society is both an advantage and a
disadvantage for sociology, the discipline that studies society.  The advantage
is that students are generally not afraid of Sociology – they feel that it can’t be
a very hard subject to learn.  The disadvantage is that this prior knowledge can
be a problem – in order to learn Sociology, we need to “unlearn” what we already
know about society.  In fact, the initial stage of learning Sociology consists
mainly of such unlearning.  This is necessary because our prior knowledge
about society – our common sense – is acquired from a particular viewpoint.
This is the viewpoint of the social group and the social environment that we are
socialised into.  Our social context shapes our opinions, beliefs and expectations
about society and social relations.  These beliefs are not necessarily wrong,
though they can be.  The problem is that they are ‘partial’.  The word partial is
being used here in two different senses – incomplete (the opposite of whole),
and biased (the opposite of impartial).  So our ‘unlearnt’ knowledge or common
sense usually allows us to see only a part of social reality; moreover, it is liable
to be tilted towards the viewpoints and interests of our own social group.
Sociology does not offer a solution to this problem in the form of a perspective
that can show us the whole of reality in a completely unbiased way.  Indeed
sociologists believe that such an ideal vantage point does not exist.  We can
only see by standing somewhere; and every ‘somewhere’ offers only a partial
view of the world.  What sociology offers is to teach us how to see the world
from many vantage points – not just our own, but also that of others unlike
ourselves.  Each vantage point provides only a partial view, but by comparing
what the world looks like from the eyes of different kinds of people we get some
sense of what the whole might look like, and what is hidden from view in each
specific standpoint.
What may be of even more interest to you is that sociology can show you
what you look like to others; it can teach you how to look at yourself ‘from the
outside’, so to speak.  This is called ‘self-reflexivity’, or sometimes just reflexivity.
This is the ability to reflect upon yourself, to turn back your gaze (which is
usually directed outward) back towards yourself.  But this self-inspection must
be critical – i.e., it should be quick to criticise and slow to praise oneself.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


© NCERT
not to be republished
Indian Society
2
I  n one important sense, Sociology is unlike any other subject that you may have
studied.  It is a subject in which no one starts from zero – everyone already
knows something about society. Other subjects are learnt because they are taught
(at school, at home, or elsewhere); but much of our knowledge about society is
acquired without explicit teaching.  Because it is such an integral part of the
process of growing up, knowledge about society seems to be acquired “naturally”
or “automatically”.  No child is expected to already know something about History,
Geography, Psychology or Economics when they come to school.  But even a six
year old already knows something about society and social relationships.  It is all
the more true then, that, as young eighteen year old adults, you know a lot about
the society you live in without ever having studied it.
This prior knowledge or familiarity with society is both an advantage and a
disadvantage for sociology, the discipline that studies society.  The advantage
is that students are generally not afraid of Sociology – they feel that it can’t be
a very hard subject to learn.  The disadvantage is that this prior knowledge can
be a problem – in order to learn Sociology, we need to “unlearn” what we already
know about society.  In fact, the initial stage of learning Sociology consists
mainly of such unlearning.  This is necessary because our prior knowledge
about society – our common sense – is acquired from a particular viewpoint.
This is the viewpoint of the social group and the social environment that we are
socialised into.  Our social context shapes our opinions, beliefs and expectations
about society and social relations.  These beliefs are not necessarily wrong,
though they can be.  The problem is that they are ‘partial’.  The word partial is
being used here in two different senses – incomplete (the opposite of whole),
and biased (the opposite of impartial).  So our ‘unlearnt’ knowledge or common
sense usually allows us to see only a part of social reality; moreover, it is liable
to be tilted towards the viewpoints and interests of our own social group.
Sociology does not offer a solution to this problem in the form of a perspective
that can show us the whole of reality in a completely unbiased way.  Indeed
sociologists believe that such an ideal vantage point does not exist.  We can
only see by standing somewhere; and every ‘somewhere’ offers only a partial
view of the world.  What sociology offers is to teach us how to see the world
from many vantage points – not just our own, but also that of others unlike
ourselves.  Each vantage point provides only a partial view, but by comparing
what the world looks like from the eyes of different kinds of people we get some
sense of what the whole might look like, and what is hidden from view in each
specific standpoint.
What may be of even more interest to you is that sociology can show you
what you look like to others; it can teach you how to look at yourself ‘from the
outside’, so to speak.  This is called ‘self-reflexivity’, or sometimes just reflexivity.
This is the ability to reflect upon yourself, to turn back your gaze (which is
usually directed outward) back towards yourself.  But this self-inspection must
be critical – i.e., it should be quick to criticise and slow to praise oneself.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Introducing Indian Society
3
At the simplest level, you could say that understanding Indian society and
its structure provides a sort of social map on which you could locate yourself.
Like with a geographical map, locating oneself on a social map can be useful in
the sense that you know where you are in relation to others in society.  For
example, suppose you live in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.  If you look at a
geographical map of India, you know that your state is in the North-eastern
corner of India.  You also know that your state is small compared to many large
states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra or Rajasthan,
but that it is larger than many others such as Manipur, Goa, Haryana or Punjab.
If you look at a physical features map, it could tell you what kind of terrain
Arunachal has (hilly, forested) compared to other states and regions of India,
and what natural resources it is rich in, and so on.
A comparable social map would tell you where you are located in society.
For example, as a seventeen or eighteen year old, you belong to the social group
called “young people”.  People your age or younger account for about forty per
cent of India’s population.  You might belong to a particular regional or linguistic
community, such as a Gujarati speaker from Gujarat or a Telugu speaker from
Andhra Pradesh.  Depending on your parent’s occupation and your family
income, you would also be a member of an economic class, such as lower
middle class or upper class.  You could be a member of a particular religious
community, a caste or tribe, or other such social group.  Each of these identities
would locate you on a social map, and among a web of social relationships.
Sociology tells you about what kinds of groups or groupings there are in society,
what their relationships are to each other, and what this might mean in terms
of your own life.
But sociology can do more than simply help to locate you or others in this
simple sense of describing the places of different social groups.  As C.Wright
Mills, a well-known American sociologist has written, sociology can help you to
map the links and connections between “personal troubles” and “social issues”.
By personal troubles Mills means the kinds of individual worries, problems or
concerns that everyone has.  So, for example, you may be unhappy about the
way elders in your family treat you or how your brothers, sisters or friends treat
you.  You may be worried about your future and what sort of job you might get.
Other aspects of your individual identity may be sources of pride, tension,
confidence or embarrassment in different ways.  But all of these are about one
person and derive meaning from this personalised perspective.  A social issue,
on the other hand, is about large groups and not about the individuals who
make them up.
Thus, the “generation gap” or friction between older and younger generations
is a social phenomenon, common to many societies and many time periods.
Unemployment or the effects of a changing occupational structure is also a
societal issue, that concerns millions of different kinds of people.  It includes,
for example, the sudden increase in job prospects for information technology
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


© NCERT
not to be republished
Indian Society
2
I  n one important sense, Sociology is unlike any other subject that you may have
studied.  It is a subject in which no one starts from zero – everyone already
knows something about society. Other subjects are learnt because they are taught
(at school, at home, or elsewhere); but much of our knowledge about society is
acquired without explicit teaching.  Because it is such an integral part of the
process of growing up, knowledge about society seems to be acquired “naturally”
or “automatically”.  No child is expected to already know something about History,
Geography, Psychology or Economics when they come to school.  But even a six
year old already knows something about society and social relationships.  It is all
the more true then, that, as young eighteen year old adults, you know a lot about
the society you live in without ever having studied it.
This prior knowledge or familiarity with society is both an advantage and a
disadvantage for sociology, the discipline that studies society.  The advantage
is that students are generally not afraid of Sociology – they feel that it can’t be
a very hard subject to learn.  The disadvantage is that this prior knowledge can
be a problem – in order to learn Sociology, we need to “unlearn” what we already
know about society.  In fact, the initial stage of learning Sociology consists
mainly of such unlearning.  This is necessary because our prior knowledge
about society – our common sense – is acquired from a particular viewpoint.
This is the viewpoint of the social group and the social environment that we are
socialised into.  Our social context shapes our opinions, beliefs and expectations
about society and social relations.  These beliefs are not necessarily wrong,
though they can be.  The problem is that they are ‘partial’.  The word partial is
being used here in two different senses – incomplete (the opposite of whole),
and biased (the opposite of impartial).  So our ‘unlearnt’ knowledge or common
sense usually allows us to see only a part of social reality; moreover, it is liable
to be tilted towards the viewpoints and interests of our own social group.
Sociology does not offer a solution to this problem in the form of a perspective
that can show us the whole of reality in a completely unbiased way.  Indeed
sociologists believe that such an ideal vantage point does not exist.  We can
only see by standing somewhere; and every ‘somewhere’ offers only a partial
view of the world.  What sociology offers is to teach us how to see the world
from many vantage points – not just our own, but also that of others unlike
ourselves.  Each vantage point provides only a partial view, but by comparing
what the world looks like from the eyes of different kinds of people we get some
sense of what the whole might look like, and what is hidden from view in each
specific standpoint.
What may be of even more interest to you is that sociology can show you
what you look like to others; it can teach you how to look at yourself ‘from the
outside’, so to speak.  This is called ‘self-reflexivity’, or sometimes just reflexivity.
This is the ability to reflect upon yourself, to turn back your gaze (which is
usually directed outward) back towards yourself.  But this self-inspection must
be critical – i.e., it should be quick to criticise and slow to praise oneself.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Introducing Indian Society
3
At the simplest level, you could say that understanding Indian society and
its structure provides a sort of social map on which you could locate yourself.
Like with a geographical map, locating oneself on a social map can be useful in
the sense that you know where you are in relation to others in society.  For
example, suppose you live in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.  If you look at a
geographical map of India, you know that your state is in the North-eastern
corner of India.  You also know that your state is small compared to many large
states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra or Rajasthan,
but that it is larger than many others such as Manipur, Goa, Haryana or Punjab.
If you look at a physical features map, it could tell you what kind of terrain
Arunachal has (hilly, forested) compared to other states and regions of India,
and what natural resources it is rich in, and so on.
A comparable social map would tell you where you are located in society.
For example, as a seventeen or eighteen year old, you belong to the social group
called “young people”.  People your age or younger account for about forty per
cent of India’s population.  You might belong to a particular regional or linguistic
community, such as a Gujarati speaker from Gujarat or a Telugu speaker from
Andhra Pradesh.  Depending on your parent’s occupation and your family
income, you would also be a member of an economic class, such as lower
middle class or upper class.  You could be a member of a particular religious
community, a caste or tribe, or other such social group.  Each of these identities
would locate you on a social map, and among a web of social relationships.
Sociology tells you about what kinds of groups or groupings there are in society,
what their relationships are to each other, and what this might mean in terms
of your own life.
But sociology can do more than simply help to locate you or others in this
simple sense of describing the places of different social groups.  As C.Wright
Mills, a well-known American sociologist has written, sociology can help you to
map the links and connections between “personal troubles” and “social issues”.
By personal troubles Mills means the kinds of individual worries, problems or
concerns that everyone has.  So, for example, you may be unhappy about the
way elders in your family treat you or how your brothers, sisters or friends treat
you.  You may be worried about your future and what sort of job you might get.
Other aspects of your individual identity may be sources of pride, tension,
confidence or embarrassment in different ways.  But all of these are about one
person and derive meaning from this personalised perspective.  A social issue,
on the other hand, is about large groups and not about the individuals who
make them up.
Thus, the “generation gap” or friction between older and younger generations
is a social phenomenon, common to many societies and many time periods.
Unemployment or the effects of a changing occupational structure is also a
societal issue, that concerns millions of different kinds of people.  It includes,
for example, the sudden increase in job prospects for information technology
© NCERT
not to be republished
Indian Society
4
related professions, as well as the declining demand for agricultural labour.
Issues of communalism or the animosity of one religious community towards
another, or casteism, which is the exclusion or oppression of some castes by
others, are again society-wide problems.  Different individuals may be implicated
in them in different roles, depending on their social location.  Thus, a person
from a so-called upper caste who believes in the inferiority of the people born
into so-called lower castes is involved in casteism as a perpetrator, while a
member of a so-called low caste community is also involved, but as a victim.  In
the same way, both men and women, as distinct social groups, are affected by
gender inequalities, but in very different ways.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


© NCERT
not to be republished
Indian Society
2
I  n one important sense, Sociology is unlike any other subject that you may have
studied.  It is a subject in which no one starts from zero – everyone already
knows something about society. Other subjects are learnt because they are taught
(at school, at home, or elsewhere); but much of our knowledge about society is
acquired without explicit teaching.  Because it is such an integral part of the
process of growing up, knowledge about society seems to be acquired “naturally”
or “automatically”.  No child is expected to already know something about History,
Geography, Psychology or Economics when they come to school.  But even a six
year old already knows something about society and social relationships.  It is all
the more true then, that, as young eighteen year old adults, you know a lot about
the society you live in without ever having studied it.
This prior knowledge or familiarity with society is both an advantage and a
disadvantage for sociology, the discipline that studies society.  The advantage
is that students are generally not afraid of Sociology – they feel that it can’t be
a very hard subject to learn.  The disadvantage is that this prior knowledge can
be a problem – in order to learn Sociology, we need to “unlearn” what we already
know about society.  In fact, the initial stage of learning Sociology consists
mainly of such unlearning.  This is necessary because our prior knowledge
about society – our common sense – is acquired from a particular viewpoint.
This is the viewpoint of the social group and the social environment that we are
socialised into.  Our social context shapes our opinions, beliefs and expectations
about society and social relations.  These beliefs are not necessarily wrong,
though they can be.  The problem is that they are ‘partial’.  The word partial is
being used here in two different senses – incomplete (the opposite of whole),
and biased (the opposite of impartial).  So our ‘unlearnt’ knowledge or common
sense usually allows us to see only a part of social reality; moreover, it is liable
to be tilted towards the viewpoints and interests of our own social group.
Sociology does not offer a solution to this problem in the form of a perspective
that can show us the whole of reality in a completely unbiased way.  Indeed
sociologists believe that such an ideal vantage point does not exist.  We can
only see by standing somewhere; and every ‘somewhere’ offers only a partial
view of the world.  What sociology offers is to teach us how to see the world
from many vantage points – not just our own, but also that of others unlike
ourselves.  Each vantage point provides only a partial view, but by comparing
what the world looks like from the eyes of different kinds of people we get some
sense of what the whole might look like, and what is hidden from view in each
specific standpoint.
What may be of even more interest to you is that sociology can show you
what you look like to others; it can teach you how to look at yourself ‘from the
outside’, so to speak.  This is called ‘self-reflexivity’, or sometimes just reflexivity.
This is the ability to reflect upon yourself, to turn back your gaze (which is
usually directed outward) back towards yourself.  But this self-inspection must
be critical – i.e., it should be quick to criticise and slow to praise oneself.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Introducing Indian Society
3
At the simplest level, you could say that understanding Indian society and
its structure provides a sort of social map on which you could locate yourself.
Like with a geographical map, locating oneself on a social map can be useful in
the sense that you know where you are in relation to others in society.  For
example, suppose you live in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.  If you look at a
geographical map of India, you know that your state is in the North-eastern
corner of India.  You also know that your state is small compared to many large
states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra or Rajasthan,
but that it is larger than many others such as Manipur, Goa, Haryana or Punjab.
If you look at a physical features map, it could tell you what kind of terrain
Arunachal has (hilly, forested) compared to other states and regions of India,
and what natural resources it is rich in, and so on.
A comparable social map would tell you where you are located in society.
For example, as a seventeen or eighteen year old, you belong to the social group
called “young people”.  People your age or younger account for about forty per
cent of India’s population.  You might belong to a particular regional or linguistic
community, such as a Gujarati speaker from Gujarat or a Telugu speaker from
Andhra Pradesh.  Depending on your parent’s occupation and your family
income, you would also be a member of an economic class, such as lower
middle class or upper class.  You could be a member of a particular religious
community, a caste or tribe, or other such social group.  Each of these identities
would locate you on a social map, and among a web of social relationships.
Sociology tells you about what kinds of groups or groupings there are in society,
what their relationships are to each other, and what this might mean in terms
of your own life.
But sociology can do more than simply help to locate you or others in this
simple sense of describing the places of different social groups.  As C.Wright
Mills, a well-known American sociologist has written, sociology can help you to
map the links and connections between “personal troubles” and “social issues”.
By personal troubles Mills means the kinds of individual worries, problems or
concerns that everyone has.  So, for example, you may be unhappy about the
way elders in your family treat you or how your brothers, sisters or friends treat
you.  You may be worried about your future and what sort of job you might get.
Other aspects of your individual identity may be sources of pride, tension,
confidence or embarrassment in different ways.  But all of these are about one
person and derive meaning from this personalised perspective.  A social issue,
on the other hand, is about large groups and not about the individuals who
make them up.
Thus, the “generation gap” or friction between older and younger generations
is a social phenomenon, common to many societies and many time periods.
Unemployment or the effects of a changing occupational structure is also a
societal issue, that concerns millions of different kinds of people.  It includes,
for example, the sudden increase in job prospects for information technology
© NCERT
not to be republished
Indian Society
4
related professions, as well as the declining demand for agricultural labour.
Issues of communalism or the animosity of one religious community towards
another, or casteism, which is the exclusion or oppression of some castes by
others, are again society-wide problems.  Different individuals may be implicated
in them in different roles, depending on their social location.  Thus, a person
from a so-called upper caste who believes in the inferiority of the people born
into so-called lower castes is involved in casteism as a perpetrator, while a
member of a so-called low caste community is also involved, but as a victim.  In
the same way, both men and women, as distinct social groups, are affected by
gender inequalities, but in very different ways.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Introducing Indian Society
5
One version of such a map is already provided to us in childhood by the
process of socialisation, or the ways in which we are taught to make sense of
the world around us.  This is the common sense map.  But as pointed out
earlier, this kind of map can be misleading, and it can distort.  Once we leave
our common sense maps behind, there are no other readymade maps available
to us, because we have been socialised into only one, not several or all, social
groups.  If we want other kinds of maps, we must learn how to draw them.
A sociological perspective teaches you how to draw social maps.
1.1 INTRODUCING AN INTRODUCTION…
This entire book is meant to introduce you to Indian society from a sociological
rather than common sense point of view.  What can be said by way of an
introduction to this introduction?  Perhaps it would be appropriate at this point
to indicate in advance the larger processes that were at work in shaping Indian
society, processes that you will encounter in detail in the pages to follow.
Broadly speaking, it was in the colonial period that a specifically Indian
consciousness took shape.  Colonial rule unified all of India for the first time,
and brought in the forces of modernisation and capitalist economic change.  By
and large, the changes brought about were irreversible – society could never
return to the way things were before.  The economic, political and administrative
unification of India under colonial rule was achieved at great expense.  Colonial
exploitation and domination scarred Indian society in many ways. But
paradoxically, colonialism also gave birth to its own enemy – nationalism.
Historically, an Indian nationalism took shape under British colonialism.
The shared experience of colonial domination helped unify and energise different
sections of the community.  The emerging middle classes began, with the aid of
western style education, to challenge colonialism on its own ground.  Ironically,
colonialism and western education also gave the impetus for the rediscovery of
tradition.  This led to the developments on the cultural and social front which
solidified emergent forms of community at the national and regional levels.
Colonialism created new classes and communities which came to play
significant roles in subsequent history.  The urban middle classes were the
main carriers of nationalism and they led the campaign for freedom.  Colonial
interventions also crystallised religious and caste based communities.  These
too became major players.  The complex ways in which the subsequent history
of contemporary Indian society evolved is something you will encounter in the
following chapters.
© NCERT
not to be republished
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