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The Asian side of the world - II

Jean-François Sabouret

Part Two. National challenges and strategies

Is India a closed society?

Some thoughts on the issue of social mobility

Jules Naudet

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February 2013

Is India a closed society? According to Pitirim Sorokin, one of the first theoreticians of social mobility, India at the beginning of the 20th century was the closest example of the ideal of a closed society, that is to say a society in which the status assigned at birth lasts throughout life.

Class, caste and status

India comes so readily to mind as an example of a closed society because it is often seen through the frame of caste. As Max Weber reminded us in The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and Buddhism, castes are a special case of status groups (Stand). In contrast to the frequent situation in which social honour is directly connected to class position, the notion of caste modifies the relationship between social status and class. According to Weber, castes are a closed status group in the sense that they impose highly constrictive professional, religious and social obligations. It is not class – defined by the possession or non-possession of material ...


CSH-New Delhi / Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales

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