Thursday, June 30, 2011



Significance of Kinship Kinship is a set of persons which are close relatives by virtue of blood relations technically known as consanguinity or by marriages which is referred as affinity.

Basic Concepts of Kinship

The Principles of Descent Descent is the principle whereby a child is socially affiliated with the group of his or her parents. In some societies the child is regarded as a descendant equally of both the

father and the mother, except that titles and surnames are usually passed down along the male line. Such a system is termed Bilateral or Cognatic.

Types of Descent

Descent is reckoned UNILINEALLY, that is, in one line only. The child is affiliated either with the group of the father, that is, PATRILINEAL DESCENT, or with the group of the mother, that is, MATRILINEAL DESCENT.

Functions of Descent Groups

Unilineal descent groups tend to be 'corporate' in several other senses. Their members may often come together for ritual and ceremonial functions, for instance, for collective worship of lineage gods, totems or ancestors. The descent group will have a built-in authority structure, with power normally exercised

by senior males, and it may well own corporate property. An individual's economic rights and responsibilities will be defined by his or her position in the descent group.

the principle of COMPLEMENTARY FILIATION which explains the significant ritual and social

roles of the mother's brother(s) in the lives of their sister's children.

Inheritance Rules

In India certain types of property pass from father to son, and other types form mother to daughter. In

most parts of India, in the past, immovable property such as land and housing, was inherited only by sons. In the absence of sons, except under rare circumstances, by the nearest male relatives on the father's side. One the other hand, movable property in the form of cash and jewellery was given to the daughter at the time of her marriage, with a certain amouqt of jewellery also passing from the mother-in-law to the daughter-in-law.

Rules of Residence

If husband and wife set up their own independent home after marriage, as is usually the case in modern western society, residence is said to be NEOLOCAL. Where the wife goes to live with the husband in his parents' home, residence is described as VIRILOCAL, PATRILOCAL, or PATRIVIRILOCAL, and where the husband moves to live with the wife, it is termed MATRILOCAL.

Patriarchy and Matriarchy

A society is said to have a patriarchal structure when a number of factors coincide, i.e. when descent is reckoned patrilineally, when inheritance of major property is from father to sol;, when residence is patrilocal, and when authority is concentrated in the hands of senior males. There is, however, no society on earth, nor any society actually known to have existed, whose features are the exact reverse of these. For even in matrilineal, matrilocal systems, which are fairly rare, major property is usually controlled by males. And authority is normally exercised by males, though women may well have a higher status in the family and greater powers of decision-making than in the patriarchal set up.

For this reason, the term 'matriarchy', though often found in the literature, is probably a misnomer, best avoided.

Descent Systems - Further Details

The patrilineal descent systems of India have many of the features noted in similar groups elsewhere. A boy at birth becomes a member of his descent group, and a coparcener (partner) in a joint estate. A girl, by contrast, is only a residual member of her natal group: at merriage she is incorporated into her husband's descent group and ultimately (i.e. after her death) offered worship by their male descendants. Residence, as we have already noted, is usually partilocal.

Patrilineal Descent

In 'patriarchal' model of society. This has patrilineal descent, patrilocal residence, inheritance from father to son, and authority in the hands of seniors as against juniors, and males as against females. A number of social practices testify to the fact that a woman's only legitimate roles are those ofwife and mother. Spinsterhood and widowhood are inauspicious and unenviable conditions. A girl is regarded as merely a guest in her natal home and, initially at least, as a rather threatening outsider in her marital home.

The patrilineal systems of the south are not so markedly patriarchal as those of the north. Also a wplnan after marriage continues to have materially and psychologically important relations with members of her natal group. This is more so with her parents and her brothers, and the residual right to maintenance in their estate in adverse circumstances. And in many other partilineal systems, the mother's brothers have significant ritual and social roles in the lives oftheir sister's children, and an especially tender and affectionate relationship with them.

Matrilineal Descent

Matrilineal descent systems, of which there are several well-known examples in southwestern and north-eastern India, have their own distinctive characteristics. Empirically you never find matrilineal systems that are an exact inverse of the patrilineal-patriarchal model which we liave already described and which is fairly well approximated by the patrilineal descent systems of north and south (but especially north) India. The reason is quite simple: whatever tlie descent system, that is, matrilineal, patrilineal or indeed bilateral, authority is usually exercised by males, only in extremely simple societies

one comes across a fair degree of mutual inter-dependence between males and females. Also, though rights, in property might be determined by the principles of matrilineal descent (for instance, passing from mother to daughter or from mother's brother to sister's son rather than from father to son as in patrilineal societies), major property is usually controlled (if not actually owned) by males.

For obvious reasons, residence arrangements are problematic in matrilineal societies.

A man may not have authority over his own children, who belong to his wife's descent group and who may also reside after maturity with their mother's brother. Conversely, in cases wliere the husband customarily resides with his wife and children, he may have difficulty managing the property in which lie has an interest by virtue of descent, and in exercising authority over his sister's children. In other words, there seems to be some sort of contradiction in matrilineal kinship systems, brought out in the dilemma

over residence, between a man's role as father and his role as mother's brother. His natural love for his own children might easily come into conflict with his special jural responsibilities towards his sister's children.

Nayars of Kerala: An Illustration

Among the matrilineal Nayars of Kerala, formerly, men resided in large and matrilineally recruited joint families, called taravad, along witli their sisters, sister's children and sister's daughter's children. They visited their wives in other taravads at night (this is why the system has been popularly called tlie 'visiting husband' system). Their own children resided with their mother in their mother's taravad. In this system the bond between brother and sister was strongly emphasised, and the bond between husband

and wife correspondingly de-emphasised, this is more so because Nayar women could legitimately have a number of visiting husbands (polyandry), provided they were of the correct status (i.e. higher status Nayars or Namboodiri Brahmans). Also, Nayar men could liave a number of wives (polygyny). In fact, the marital bond was so minimised among the Nayars that anthropologists have debated endlessly whether Nayar society liad the institution of marriage at all! Anthropologists have also cited that the Nayar system disproves the proposition that the elementary or nuclear family is a "universal" human institution. The details of these debates need not detain us here. Indeed, the unique institutions and customs described by the anthropologists no longer exist and have not existed for generations, but tlie Nayar case is a useful one for illustrating the types of tensions that seem to be coming into matrilineal systems. They laid rather unique way of coping with what anthropologists have called 'the matrilineal

puzzle'. Effectively they ensured the unity of the matrilineal at the expense of the

solidarity of the marital bond between husband and wife.

Other Matrilineal Communities

There are many other matrilineal communities in India whose kinship organisation is rather different to that of the Nayars. For instance, the Khasis of Assam are matrilineal in descent, inheritance and succession, and practise matrilocal residence. The youngest daughter is the heiress, and lives in her mother's house alone with their husband and their children. The older daughter however may move out of the matrilineal household on marriage and make new nuclear families; their husbands have greater independent. authority than does the husband of the youngest daughter still residing martrilocally.

The Garo, also of Assam, have yet another arrangement. Marriage is matrilocal for the husband of the daughter who becomes the head of the household and its manager. A rule of preferential cross-cousin marriage ensures that a man is succeeded in this position by his sister's son in an ongoing alliance relationship between the two linked lineages.

Kinship in India

Iravati Karve, the famous sociologist, had described. In the Southern Zone, you usually find a preference for marriage with certain categories of close kin, in particular with one or the other or both of the cross-cousins (but never parallel cousins), or even with the elder sister's daughter. On the whole, the intermarrying groups are of comparable status. Though the actual marriage relationship might give rise to a temporary inferiority of wife-givers in relations to wife-takers. The marriage will probably involve groups which are geographically quite proximate even from the same village-and the bride will already be familiar with her in-laws. You don't really expect a young bride to be badly treated by her mother-in-laws if that woman is also her aunt or her maternal grandmother!

In north India, by contrast, marriages are never between persons who are already closely related. A rule of village exogamy also ensures that brides are given to and taken from other villages or towns, often at a considerable distance. The bride therefore comes to her husband's family as a 'stranger'. She will always be suspected of trying to alienate her husband's affections, and will usually be blamed for the break up of the joint family, should a partition subsequently take place. The distinction between

'daughters' and 'brides' is very sharply emphasised in this system (think of the practice of veiling), and the new bride's position is relatively vulnerable, unless and until she becomes the mother of a son. In this region it is also often the case that marriages unite groups whose social status is already unequal, the wife-givers being of inferior status to the wife-takers (hypergamy), while the marriage transaction commonly (though again not invariably) takes the form of a 'dowry' payment. However legally taking

dowry or giving it, both have become illegal offences punishable by the state. But, in reality it continues to affect a large category of people in India. Even other religions, such as, Muslims, Christians and SCISTs are getting influenced by it. All in all, we have in this combination of features the social-structural locale of also such practices as levirate marriage, sati, female infanticide and, lately, 'bride-burning' or dowry deaths.

Other differences between the northern and southern systems noted by Iravate Karve (and others) relate to the rules of descent, inheritance and marriage. In brief, the northern zone is universally patrilineal, though patrilineal systems are also found among different communities in the southern or dravidian zone, along with a variety of residence * patterns. We should add here that there are a number of important matrilineal groups (for instance the Khasis and the Garos) in north-eastern India (eastern zone) as well. as. Of course, the division of the kinship may develop into major culture areas zones can give only a very crude idea of the salient variations in kinship practices throughout the

subcontinent. A more precise picture emerges when one considers the sub-regional varieties corresponding to the different regional languages and dialects. In analysing these regional kinship systems, scholars pay attention not only to kinship terminologies and to the way the people concerned speak about kinship relations and about the moral obligations that stem from them, but also to the data of ritual practices, gift exchanges folklore and other forms of cultural communication.



The Institution of Marriage- The institution of the marriage is very important social institution which provides a heterosexual relationship for bearing and rearing of children. Thus primarily marriage is way regulating reproduction and giving legitimacy to the children born by the wedlock which is very much important in matter of succession.

Forms of Marriage

Monogamy- The person will have one spouse at a time.

Polygamy – The person will have two or more living spouse at a time. Polygyny (one man two or more wives) and Polyandry(one woman with two or more husbands).

In Polygyny if a person marries the sisters then it is called sororal polygyny and In polyandry if a woman marries brothers then it is called fraternal polyandry.

Rules of Endogamy and Exogamy-

Endogamy is a form of marriage where a person has a matrimonial within a specified group such as caste.

Exogamy is a form of marriage which is outside the specified group such clan, lineage, sapind etc.

Among Hindus, there are over three hundred castes sub-castes and each one of them is endogamous. Despite modernising trends in India, which Among Hindus, there are over three hundred casteslsub- castes and each one of them is endogamous. Despite modernising trends in India, which have diluted caste restrictions in many respects, inter-caste marriages are still few and mostly limited to educated urban individuals. Although the norms of caste endogamy were widely prevalent, Hindu scriptures by allowing anuloma and pratiloma marriages, institutionalised, to a limited extent, inter-caste marital

alliances. The anuloma marriage permits an alliance betweena lower class woman and higher caste man, while the pratiloma marriage is an alliance between higher caste woman and a lower caste man. The former is referred to by the sociologists as hypergamy and the latter as hypogamy.

Rules of exogamy among Hindus are very specific. Hindus are traditionally prohibited from marrying in their own gotra, pravara and sapinda (gotra, pravara and sapinda refer to a group of individuals assumed to have descended from a paternal or maternal ancestor and are variously termed as clan, sib or lineage). The Hindu Marriage Act (1955) forbids marriage between sapinda, and specifies

that marriage between two persons related within five generations on the father's side and three on the mother's side is void, unless permitted by local custom.

Mate Selection In India, considerations of caste, religious and family background have traditionally

been of great importance i2 selection of mates. In addition, looks of the girl and her competence as housewife, are also considered to be important. In urban middle class families, the earning capacity of the girl is also given considerable weightage, these days, in the selection of a bride.

Preferential Marriage - marriage with particular cross cousins (father's, sister's or mother's brother's offsprings) are approved or permitted in many societies. Among Arabs and Muslims in India,

marriage between parallel cousins (child of father's brother or mother's sister) is common. Possible reasons for permitting or preferring cousin marriages are: (a) family wealth is not dispersed as it remains within related family groups; and (b) relationships do not fade away as they are constantly renewed among offsprings of related families.

Love Marriage - In the western urban-industrial method of mate selection, individuals go through the

process of dating and courtship, they make selections, based on the consideration of feelings for one another. This is termed as 'love marriage' by AsiansIIndians.

There is an important difference between love marriage and arranged marriage. Whereas in the latter at the individual's level one has vague expectations from marriage (in fact, individuals enter into it primarily for performing their social duty), in self-choice marriage there are great expectations of happiness and companionship from one's partner in marriage. However, these are not very easy to attain and retain in day-today life after marriage, where practical problems of existence confront the couple. Mature personalities are able to adjust to this gap between dream and reality. The less

mature find it difficult to adjust. At times the gap between fantasy of romantic love and exigencies of practical life is so wide that the strain becomes impossible to bear and marriage ends in a failure.

Mate selection among Tribals –

i) Selection by purchase and service - Mate selection 'by purchase' is the most prevalent practice. In this. bride-price has to be paid to the girl's parents. The amount of bride-price rates from a nominal price (as

in case of Regma Naga) to such a high price (as in case of Ho) that many young men and women have to remain unmarried. Some tribes (Gond) have found a way out of the high bride-price. The would-be

groom lives and works in his would-be father-in law's house as a suitor-servant for a number of years before he can ask for the girl's hand in marriage. Another way of avoiding the payment of bride-price is through an exchange of girls women among eligible families.

ii) Youth dormitories- Tribes having youth dormitories provide a wide scope for the youth to choose their mates. Therefore, marriage by mutual consent with parents approval has been the: gqneral practice. Where parents object, elopement is a solution. Eventually the parents welcome the couple's return.

iii) Selection by capture- Mate selection 'by capture' has been a feature of Naga, Ho, Bhil and Gond tribes. Among Nagas, female infanticide was resorted to because of fear of raids for bride capturing. Among the Gond capture takes place often at the instance of parents of the bride and amongst the Ho it is prearranged. Besides physical capture, there is also a ceremonial capture. Among Central Indian tribes peaceful captures are effected on the occasion of certain inter village festivals.

iv) Selection by trial -Mate selection by trial also exists among some tribals. A young Bhil has to prove his

prowess before he can claim the hand of any girl. This is generally done through is dance game. On Holi festival, young women dancers make a circle around a tree or pole on which a coconut and gud are tied. The men folk make an outer ring. The trial of strength begins when a young man attempts to break the inner circle in order to reach the treelpole. The women resist his attempt with all their might; and in case the man is able to reach tlie tree and eat the gud and break open tlie coconut. He can choose any girl from the surrounding inner circle, as his wife. Cases are reported among some tribals, where a girl desirous of marrying an unwilling mate thrusts herself on him, bears all humiliations and harsh treatment till the man yields. Such a marriage is termed as marriage by intrusion. In addition to the above-mentioned ways of mate selection, probationary marriages are also reported among tlie Kuki, who permit ayoung man and woman to live together at the girls home for some weeks, and then decide whether to get married or not. In case they decide to separate, the young man has to pay cash compensation to the girl's parents.

Changes in Marriage -

Changes in the Forms of Marriage In most of the polygamy societies now polygamous marriages are fading away and in spite monogamous marriage are taking the place. These due to the elevated position of women in the society and also the finances in this time are not sufficient to meet out the expenses of polygamy.

Changes in Mate Selection- Now in this post industrialised society person are having a say in the selection of their mates. They are now allowed to meet each other and know each other before they start a married life.

Changes in Age of Marriage - With increasing enrolment of girls in schools and colleges, and their desire to take up employment, along with the problems of 'settling down7 in life for the vast majority of boys, the age at marriage is perforce being pushed up. Further, as part of its population policy, the Government has now prescribed the minimum age of marriage as 18 years for girls and 20 years for boys. In urban areas, however, marriages are now generally taking place beyond these prescribed minimum ages.

Changes in Marriage Rituals and Customs

Changes in Marriage: Goals and Stability - As procreation, and along with it parenting role, are tending to become less important, other function like companionship and emotional support from the spouse and children are becoming the more important goals of marriage. In fact, the younger people today

are entering matrimony for happiness and personal fulfilment.



Definition of Family- Family is a durable association of man and woman along with or without children. They live together, pull their resources, work together and produce off springs.

Family as an Institution – Family is most important and pivotal institution among all the institutions of the societies. The main feature of the family is the person composed of family is related to each other by blood, marriage and adoption.

Sociologist George Murdock lists four important function of family.

i) regulate sexual relations;

ii) account for economic survival ;

iii) controls reproduction; and

iv) socialises children

Variations in Family Forms

By the Residence –

Patrilocal – Family takes up residence in husband’s home.

Matrilocal- Family takes up residence in wife’s home.

By the Issue of descent –

Patrilineal – The descent is traced through the male line.

Matrilineal- The descent is traced through the female line.

By the decision making authority- These are patriarchy-male dominant; matriarchy-female dominant

Yet another distinction is made between the conjugal family or family by marriage on the one hand and consanguine family or family by blood on the other, based on the membership type of the family. While the conjugal family consists of parents and their children, the consanguine family is made up of either parent and the units' blood relatives, such as, mother, her children, her parents or father, his children, his parents etc.

The nuclear family consists of a married couple and their children.

The extended family is commonly defined as the nuclear family plus all kin belonging

to either side, living together.

Universal Nature of Family - The family is tlie most permanent and pervasive of all social institutions.

There is no human society without any family system. All societies both large and small, primitive and civilised, ancient and modern, have institutionalised the process of procreation of the species and the rearing of the young. It is a permanent and universal institution and one of the constants of human life.

Biological Basis of the Family – The sexual character of reproduction which is the natural answer to the sexual drive of the human to which the family gives the legitimacy with the support of marriage.

Common Residence and Nomenclature – The family provides a common place of residence for its members which is very important for the bearing and rearing of the child. The family in which person is child is called family of orientation and the family in which the person is parent is called family of procreation.

Social Functions of the Family –

i) Member replacement and physical maintenance

In order to survive, every society must replace members who die and keep the survivors


ii) Regulation of sexual behaviour

iii) Socialisation of children

The family carries out the serious responsibility of socialising each child. Children are

taught largely by their families to conform to socially approved patterns of behaviour.

iv) Status transmission

Individual's social ibentity is initially fixed by family membership by being born to parents of a given status and characteristics. Children take on the socio-economic class standing of their parents and the culture of the class into which they are born, including its values, behaviour patterns and definitions of reality. In addition to internalising family attitudes and beliefs, children are treated and defined by others as extensions of the social identity of their parents. In short, family acts as a vehicle of culture transmission from generation to generation.

v) Economic activity

vi) Social emotional support

vii) Inter-institutional linkage

Role of Family in Industrial Society

Many sociologists feel that the family has lost a number of its fiinctions in modern industrial society. Institutions such as business, political parties, schools, welfare and recreational organisations, creche and play schools, now specialise in functions earlier performed only by the family. This reduces the dependency ofthe individual on his or her family and kin. The high rate of geographical mobility in industrial society decreases, the frequency and intimacy of contact among members ofthe kin-family network. The relatively high level of social mobility and the importance of 'achieved' status in modem

society have weakened the importance of family and its extended form since it has less

to offer to its members.



Defining a Complex Society – Complex society have the following characterstics

i) larger territory and population membership;

ii) greater occupational differentiation, and specialisation of work and social groups;

iii) advanced technology for production of consumer items, building of houses, work

places, etc;

iv) greater co-ordination in the management of the complex society;

v) quick rate of change in terms of consumer goods, forms of education, and so on;

vi) faster modes of inass communication, such as, radio, TV, computers internet etc.

Rural-Urban Dichotomy - Some sociologists found that there was as much individualism, lack of understanding, fear and suspicion of strangers even among the villagers as it existed in the urban life.

the concept of the urban community also underwent change in the 1950's. It was found that family and friends made life close, informal, and secure. That is to say there does exist 'urban villages' in city life as well.

Aspects of Community Life

One thing is clear from the above is that the rural and urban life in complex society is not the opposite of one another. In fact it could no longer be assumed that environment determined any one type of association. However this is not to say that rural and urban populations do not have any differences.

Later studies stressed that:

i) social class and

ii) stage in family cycle were very important factors in the complex societies.

According to the studies, social class influences choice over where a person can stay (live). Stage in family cycle determines choice of area within a social class. Thus young parents in a social class do not have as much to invest as those who are older. There are thus several constraints on where a person can live. The housing market makes a cluster of similar social class and stage in family cycle. Some sociologists point out that it is the group that is influenced-not the community as such. They argue in favour of studying local social systems.

They feel these should be studied with reference to:

i) maintenance and establishment;

ii) modifying circumstances; and

iii) inter-relationships with national systems.

It was suggested that community ties and behaviours are very much linked to national behaviour. Personal ties were believed to be decreasing to a very large extent. Thus vertical links to the central decision makers are replacing the 'horizontal' local ties. Thus the two are deeply inter linked, although community reflects the nation. Again the analysis of economic factors has become very important in urban studies. Further, it was felt that urban problems are not exclusively urban, e.g. slums and poverty.

Thus, it may be pointed out that community studies do help in studying social change. However locality study gives more precise data for the same.

Types of Urbanisation

Over Urbanisation

De urbanisation

Under urbanisation

Developing countries is experiencing over urbanisation. Cities are the enclaves surrounded by the villages from where the economic growth and its benefits goes outwards. Our view on over urbanisation is that the metropolitan development is due to the foreign capital thus being exploited by the developed nations and further these cities are exploiting the villages. Thus over-urbanisation implies that cities in the developing world are not industrialised enough relative to population ratios. The picture indicates that the service sector has a deep agrarian root.

In over urbanisation there is industrialisation with low employment opportunities. And in under urbanisation there is industrialisation with lack of support system such as housing. And in de urbanisation There has thus been a ruralisation of urban/industrial relations. This is seen

as a result of the economic and industrial policies, which encourage such a process.

Such ruralisation is especially evident in advanced technology sectors.

Modern Society

Modern society has several features. These include:

i) profit-motive production by big capitalists;

ii) technological advances;

iii) high rate of urban populations;

iv) bureaucratic organisation; and

v) spread of education.

Work in Complex Societies – work in complex societies means work which is paid. Need not necessary it earns monetary benefits. In simple societies leisure has different meaning it is time to relax with no end result but in complex societies leisure activities such as cricket, football earns the wages.

Work Structures - Work in simple societies is mainly linked with family and religions and person work not for the monetary gains for the kinship and religious obligations. But in complex societies the person works only because of the wages which he is paid. He fixed set of work profile and timing only emergency leaves are available. The work structure of complex society is hierarchy based such as skilled labour is adhered to manager or supervisor.

Conflict in Industry

Conflict in the industry usually takes place between the employer and the labour as labour wants there wages to be increased and employer in order to maximise the profit wants to reduce the wages and increase the work hours which leads to the conflict.

Another conflict is due to the removal of labour and use of machinery this is called retrenchment of labour, to reduce the cost.

The most.visible form of industrial conflict are legal or illegal strikes. However, other

methods require co-operation among workers to:

i) go slow;

ii) absenteeism; and

iii) sabotage.

These do not cause any impact on the surface but cause great damage the productivity.

Employment and Women

In complex societies women are given an equal opportunity in the employment but there is a horizontal segregation in the job they are mostly given the clerical jobs, teaching, nursing and also there is a vertical segregation very few women reach to top management positions. And men are preferred in spite of women as it has been thought that domestic responsibility will reduce their quality of work.

Post-Industrial Society

There are some features of the post industrial society which differs it from modern society.

(a) Service economy – The economy of the post industrial society is not completely dependent on agriculture and industries but it now also has major part related to trade and services.

More than 60 percent of the American workforce is employed in trade and services sector.

(b) Professional and Technicians: In industrial societies blue collar and semi skilled labour predominate. However in post-industrial societies professional and technical operators grow to dominate.

(c) Theoretical Knowledge: In post-industrialsociety, theoretical knowledge has a crucial value. Scientific knowledge along with mathematics based social science become very significant. In fact a shortage of scientifically trained professionals is felt. In providing this need universities gain a great deal of importance.

Further Features

Technology planning

In modem society, use of some technologies has proved to be harmful e.g. DDT is affecting crops, birds, wild life. Nuclear energy generating plants are creating nuclear wastes and accidents risks as in Chemobyl. USSR. Post-industrial societies have technology assessment to prevent any harmful effects of the technology.

Intellectual Planning

A new intellectual technology will be crucial to post-industrial society. It is not the machine technology of the modern age. Intellectual technology comprises management and other techniques needed to organise. Vast use of computers and super computers and new mathematics is crucial.

Some Trends

Post-industrial society.depends for its emergence on the persistence of the present trends. What happens if this does not happen? Let us consider some of these aspects below:

i) State Tasks: These include saving and distribution of wealth equitably. Both these are contradictory - for the latter means expenditure not saving of capital. Higher taxes do not solve the problem. Education, medicine, insurance, all needs great expenditure. Saving is not enough to meet them and a fiscal crisis arises.

ii) Cultural Change: Change may come culturally - not only in the economy but all aspects of social life. The new young may find fulfilment outside their careers as well as inside them.

iii) Ideologies: Post-industrialism regulates the big corporations strictly. It is a type of 'state capitalism'. In other countries state socialism exists. Socialism should lead to communal society, which eventually makes the state obsolete. However this is not borne out by trends in modern communism. It is also felt by some sociologists that bureaucracy needs to be replaced by communal structures.

Key words

Horizontal Segregation : Keeping one particular group apart within the similar wage and status level.

Vertical Segregation : Separating people at the top (or bottom) level from others, e.g. owners, managers, and supervisors.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011



Introduction- Simple societies are those societies which are not only small in size but also their control over the environment is limited and their economies are based on the production of material for the sustenance. With distinct type of socio-political organisations they are quite different from societies where we live in.

Economies in Simple Societies – Based on the mode of production of material goods for sustenance these simple societies can be divided into hunting and gathering, pastoral, shifting cultivation, settled cultivation.

Hunting and Gathering – The hunting and gathering stage relied on hunting animals and gathering roots, fruits and shrubs for their sustenance. These societies differed remarkably on the type of animals they hunt. They keep on moving from one place to another in search of animals, fruits and roots.

Pastoral – These stage is mainly based on the domestication of the animals for their sustenance they keep on moving for the want of water and pastoral.In India, the important pastoral communities include the Toda (The buffalo herders of Nilgiri Hills, Tamil Nadu), the Gujar (cattle and

buffalo herders) and the Bakewal (sheep and goat herders) of Jammu and Kashmir.

Shifting Cultivation – In these type of cultivation after few years the new land is cleared by the farmers for cultivation of crops. A number oftribes practise shifting cultivation such as the Bantu ofequatorial Africa,Garo of Meghalaya, Baiga and Abujhmar Maria of Madhya Pradesli and Saora of Orissa. A number of tribes in Arunachal Pradesh also practise shifting cultivation.

Settled Cultivation - Relatively larger number of simple societies practise settled cultivation, where the

same fields are cultivated year after year. Settled cultivation makes it necessary for the

villages to become permanent settlements. A number of gods and deities rise up all

around tlie villages, investing religious significa~iceto the villages. The institution of

private property also gets more crystallised.

Depending upon the technology, the settled cultivation admits ofa two-fold division:

hoe cultivation and plough cultivation. Many island communities, like the Trobriaiid

Islanders in the Pacific, are hoe cultivators. The Munda, Santhal and Gond in India

are plough cultivators. The hill slopes give rise to yet another type of settled cultivation,

because to cultivate the hill slopes are cut up into terraces. The Nagas in India are

good examples of terrace cultivators.

Systems of Exchange in Simple Societies – The person can not produce all the goods required for the sustenance so the goods are exchanged this is economic nature of exchange. Despite of economic nature goods are exchanged to reduce the conflicts between the groups. One of the purposes of exchanges of goods is to maintain a state of mutual indebtness.

Here are the two classic examples of non economic nature of exchange of goods.

Two Examples

(The Kula Exchange) - Malinowski, in his study of economic activities known as the Kula ring of the Western Pacific region, showed that among the Trobriand Islanders, the members of the Kula ring exchange among themselves ritually and socially valued objects. The system of exchange is regulated in a kind of ring with two directional movements. I11 clockwise direction, the red shell necklaces circulate and in anti-clockwise circulation, the white arm-shells' circulate among the members of the Kula ring. These objects have no commercial value but carry differing prestige value for donors and receipients. The tribals undertake long dangerous sea voyages in search of these objects, which are economically useless. While the Islanders normally haggle and bargain ill their day-today buying and selling of other goods, the objects given and taken in the Kula are never subjected to any bargaining.

The Potlatch Ceremony

Our second example is from the American North-West where, the Kwakiutl (and also,some other tribes of the region) organised large-scale feasts. At such occasions, not only enormous quantities of food were consumed and gifts given to guests, but also many articles (considered valuable by them) were destroyed. The practice of feasts (known as the institution of potlatch) among these people shows how giving away of goods to the extent of physically destroying them was linked with their claims to a higher social status. The more feasts one group organised, the more prestige it received. Further the more a group was invited to such potlatches and the more gifts it received, the more prestige the group gained in the eyes of other groups. These feasts were always organised by agnatic groups, i.e., by those standing in the relationship of brothers to each other. One such group invited other such groups and vied with each other in giving more and more food to eat and more and more gifts to take home and more and more valuables to destroy.

Markets – It is the place where exchange of goods takes place.

Social Organisation in Simple Societies - In order to present an overview of simple societies, their social organisation can be briefly studied in four parts, namely, kinship, marriage, religion and polity.

Kinship - A tribe is, often, spread over a small territory with its language, political and religious organisation. It is usually divided into two or more sections. When divided into only two sections,

each section is called a moiety. But if a tribe is divided into more than two sections, each section is called a phratry. Moieties and phratries are, generally, exogamous groups, that is, members of these groups must find their spouses outside these groups; they cannot marry within. Only in some societies, the moieties are endogamous, that is members of such moieties must marry within the moiety. The Toda are an example of such a group.

Descent - Common descent or origin in simple societies is generally traced through lineages and clans. Lineages are those groups, which reckon common descent from a known ancestor. Clans are the groups of those people, who treat each other as related through common ancestry, even though, it may not be traceable with certainty. In other words, clans have mythical ancestors. Lineages are relatively smaller groups with known ancestors within clans, which are wider groups with presumed common ancestry.

Descent is usually traced through either mother or father. Descent through the mother is called matrilineal or uterine descent. In a matrilineal system of descent, a man does not belong to his father's lineage and clan. He belongs to the same clan and lineage as his mother and his mother's brother. The Nayars of South India are an example.

In patrilineal descent, relationship with males and females of one's group is traced only through males. Most of the students of the course are likely to belong to this form of descent system.

Some people, however, have systems of double descent, that is, both matrilineal and patrilineal groups are recognised, but for different purposes. For example, among the Yako (Forde, 1950), the inheritance of immovable property is regulated through patrilineal descent and that of movable property through matrilineal descent.

Marriage – It is a social recognition of matting among its members. Mostly monogamy ( one person one wife ) is commonly practised. But in few tribal societies Polygamy ( One person with more than one wife at a given point of time. More rare is Polyandry ( One woman with many husbands) The Khasa in Uttar Pradesh and Toda in Tamil Nadu perform polyandry but there is a difference among the two In Khasa Eldest brother marries and all brothers become husband but in Toda tribe the persons need not to be brothers but this raise to the question of paternity of the child which is solved by the ‘Bow and Arrow’ ceremony. When woman becomes pregnant and the person who performs the ‘Bow and Arrow’ ceremony first becomes the father of the Child.

Religion – Due to lack of technology and limited control over the environment makes the simple societies to think the natural calamities are happening due to the supernatural powers which can be categorised as ‘Mana’ the supernatural powers associated with Kings and successful man and other is ‘Taboo’ which is negative supernatural power and if anyone does not observe will have the punishment.

Taboo is used to regulate social activities. Many tribal communities put a taboo mark on their property in the field and the forest to ensure against theft. 'Mana' and 'taboo' are polynesian terms, which

have been incorporated into anthropological/sociological vocabulary. They have generated a theory of causation for the natural happenings.

Religion and Magic - Religion assumes that certain spirits and deities preside over nature. They have to be propitiated, placated and worshipped in order to get their blessings. These spirits may send both blessings and curses. So an element of freedom and an exercise of will are attributed to the spirits and deities. Magic on the other hand, is an impersonal force which can be made to operate provided the magic is performed properly. There is no exercise of will with regard to the impersonal force. Magic must succeed. It can fail only by an improper performance of magic or by the performance of more powerful


Frazer (1 920) believed all magic to be sympathetic, based on the principle of sympathy between cause and effect. He identified two laws governing the operation of magic, the law of similarity and the law of contact. The magic based on the first law he called homoeopathic or imitative magic and the magic based on the second law he called contagious magic. In homoeopathic magic an image ofthe enemy is destroyed in order to destroy the enemy. In contagious magic, magic is played on the separated part ofthe

body ofthe enemy, such as paired nails and hair.

But magic is not always destructive. It is in fact only a symbolic act. Magic is the playing out of an event. It expresses desires in symbolic ways.In brief, religion provides the simple societies with a theory of causation. It builds confidence of nature. The fertility of fields, herds, women, of land and water are

believed to be ensured by religion

Polity – It is used to create order in the society so that it can run smoothly.

Types of Political System--- Cephalous and A cephalous

Cephalous – In cephalous political system there is a recognised head or king. These system is further divided into four sub types shilluk,swazi,ethiopean and muslim emirates of northern Nigeria.

In Shilluk headship is more ritual and symbolic than substantial.

In swazi and ethiopean the kingship shows a divine authority with slight variation. Not to obey the king is not only the breach of political obligation but also of religious obligations. The only difference between the two system is in the first system the authority of king is delegated to its kinsmen and in second the authority is delegated to non kinsmen.

In all the three subtypes the king is from the lineage of the same tribal society, but in the fourth system the that is muslim emirates of north Nigeria does not belongs to the same tribal society.

A cephalous- In this political there is no single recognised head or king. These system is further divided into four subtypes. The (i) Central African Bushmen, (ii) Yako ofNigeria, (iii) Masai of east Africa, and

(iv) Nuer of Sudan may be taken to represent these four subtypes. Bushmen are hunting and gathering people, constantly moving from one place to another in search of roots, fruits and tubers or in search of game animal. They are fragmented into small bands. Whatever disputes that arise within and between families are resolved by the elders of the band. The second subtype consists of autonomous villages with their councils. Among the Yako the village councils contribute to the maintenance of order. Membership of the village council is based on a number of criteria such as genealogical position, economic

success and qualities of leadership. The third subtype of which Masai herders are an example is quite widespread in east Africa. The transition from childhood to manhood is not an unnoticed and uneventful phenomenon among the simple societies. Most of them give ritual recognition to this phenomenon. Among the Masai, the children undergoing this transition are initiated into the youngest age-set. In course oftime the youngest age-set becomes the eldest age-set and then it has to take on the responsibility of maintaining law and order. So in this third subtype the maintenance of order is the responsibility of the

age-sets. The fourth subtype is also quite widespread and Nuer tribe of Sudan is an example of

this subtype. Order is maintained in such societies by balanced opposition. The Nuer are divided into agnatic descent groups, the lineages. Members of a lineage are obliged to help other on occasions ofdispute. Hence a dispute between two individuals belonging to two different lineages soon becomes adispute between two lineages. Each lineage organises itself into a fighting group to support its member. But when the two persons in dispute belong to the same lineage, then the conflict is confined to this particular lineage and nobody outside this group is involved in this dispute.

Colonial Impact on Simple Societies - Colonialism imposed its imprint on all aspects of tribal life since the 18th century.Economic, political, social and cultural aspects of the simple societies came to be

directly and indirectly, influenced by colonial rule. It has however to be noted that all tribal societies under colonial rule did not experience the same level of disorganisation in their social systems. In some the disrupting influence was much more severe than in others. We shall now examine the impact of colonialism in the economic, political, social and cultural aspects of simple societies.

Economic integration with the capitalist system took three main forms: one, by supplying the traditional products to the international commercial network through a series of local and provincial agencies; two, through the introduction of new crops at the inducement and coercion of the colonial capitalists; and three, by joining willingly or under pressure, the industrial wage labour. The impact of economic integration was most in the third and least in the first.

Supply of Traditional Products- In the first category come the hunting and gathering, pastoral and agricultural communities that sold their traditional products to the agents ofthe capitalist market.

This initiated a new system of exchange and influenced to a certain extent, their traditional systems of exchange and exchange obligations. But the impact was limited to only certain areas of their social life. Cash got introduced to their system and they could purchase with it certain new items of consumption but this did not bring about a restructuring of economic relations in these simple societies.

Introduction of New Crops - In this a new agricultural cycle had to be followed bringing about considerable change in the domestic organisation of production. Most important consequence was the impact of fluctuations of the international price with regard to the cash crops grown by these communities. Tobacco and sugarcane, were some of the crops grown by the tribal communities specially for the world market. In many cases they had to replace food crops by cash crops and hence were forced to buy food from the market. Tribes in West Africa, for instance the Yorubas, were drawn

into the international capitalist market through this second type of integration. But this type of integration did not result in geographical dislocation.

The Industrial Wage Labour - The most disastrous consequences followed from the third type of integration, by entering the industrial labour market. The colonialists developed industries for which they needed cheap labour. A number of inducements were first tried in Africa to lure people into industrial employment. But when they failed, a lot of repressive measures were taken to force the tribal people to work in the mines in the copper belt and in other factories started all over urban Africa. People were forced to pay taxes in cash which was available only in urban-industrial labour and when even these measures failed, physical capture of tribals was resorted to man the hines and the factories.

These repressive measures did not stop at the factory gates but the entire industrial discipline and the conditions of work were very repressive. Plantations in India, Africa and Latin America, employed tribal and non-tribal labour also called indentured labour and subjected them to dehumanising industrial discipline. This kind of integration involved geographical migration, very often leaving the wife, children and old-parents at home in the village. The worker faced problems at both ends of migration, at the

village end as well as at the factory. Imposition of colonial rule disrupted the political order of the tribal communities. The traditional political systems lost their sovereignty and legitimacy. The traditional

political chiefs suddenly found that their rights, authority and power had vanished. They acted now as the representatives of the colonial power and had to behave with their own tribesmen in ways they would not have ever thought of doing in the past. Traditional jurisprudence, traditional measures of the resolution of conflict, all became irrelevant in the new colonial situation. New political institutions, like police, magistrates and jails, came up all over the tribal world. New jurisprudence was imposed on them whose logic they failed to appreciate. New men came to occupy many of these new positions. Though following the principle of indirect rule, the British in 'Africa tried to retain old chiefs in many areas but this

could not be done everywhere. Hence new chiefs were appointed in many communities.

Problems of Colonialism - The new political system had many problems. It was divorced from its relationship with kinship and religion. In the traditional political order as we have examined in an

earlier section, kinship and religion played an important part. The chief was assumed to possess supernatural power because it was retained within one family. With chiefs coming from other families, the religious character of kingship got considerably eroded. Irrelevance of kinship support disintegrated not only the political system, but also, to a great extent, even the kinship system. This is because of the fact that this political role of the kinship system went a long way in giving a sense of unity and solidarity.

Economic and political changes had serious implications for the institutions and processes of social solidarity. In fact the tribals found it hard to accept the cognitive and affective elements of the new industrial culture. They got industrialised but could not internalise the values of industrialism. The lack of industrialism resulted in the high rate of absenteeism and low rate of turn over. The tribals became migrants not only from the village to the urban-industrial complex but also from factory to factory,

from industry to industry. Thus an element of uncertainty and insecurity developed. Colonial imposition resulted also in the disintegration of tribal cultures. Introduction of new market rationality and cash economy moved them over from generalised reciprocity to balanced reciprocity and in many cases to even negative reciprocity. In the new urban-industrial environment they were not in a position to perform their multiple rites and rituals connected with birth, marriage and death. This created psychological deprivation and psychological strains within them. Living in an urbanindustrial environment kept them away from the annual ritual cycle, from the festivals and also from a host of ritual obligations they were supposed to meet at their village home. They suffered from a cultural vacuum at the urban industrial centre. They could not practise their own culture and they could not participate in the cultural activities of the urban-industrial centres. They became alienated not only from their village but also from the industrial culture. In fact they got alienated from themselves. The triblas did not meekly accept the imposition of colonial rule. Researches and studies bear testimony to the fighting spirit of the tribals. In Kenya the Giriamas rose against colonialism in 19 13-14. The cult of Mumbo gripped the Gusii and the Luo in Kenya. The Mau Mau rebellion, again in Kenya, speaks of the tribals' determination to throw away the colonial masters. The cargo cults in Oceania are another expression Simple Societies llndcrstrnding Sociology of the tribal antagonism to colonialism. In India too the tribals rose in violent uprisings against the British and their supporters throughout the nineteenth century. The tribes of Chotanagpur, the Munda, Ho and the Santhal, all rose against the British and the Zamindars in the nineteenth century. In fact the uprisings were so many in the nineteenth century Chotanagpur, that it may easily be called the century of tribal rebellions. T m features stand out very clearly with regard to these tribal uprisings. One, most of

them were violent, to the extent permitted by their primitive tools. Two, they looked for religious support for their success., They were all movements of hope of one kind or another and were all too sure about their success. Needless to say most of them were brutally crushed by the mighty colonial powers.