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BSOC-102: Sociology of India - I

BSOC-102: Sociology of India - I

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

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Assignment Code: BSOC-102/ ASST/TMA /2021-22

Course Code: BSOC-102

Assignment Name: Sociology of India- I

Year: 2021-2022

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Assignment - I

Answer the following in about 500 words each.

1. Do you think the Orientalists and Indologists played a crucial role in the emergence and growth of sociology? 20

Ans) Unlike the Indologists, the attempt was to condemn Indian society and its ways by citing specific translations from the Sanskrit texts. Additionally, some of the practices like sati, purdah, sale of children to slavery, cow worship, idol worship and the caste system were taken to be everyday examples of the problems and ills, suffered by Indian society. The extremely which negative evaluation of the Indian society and caste system was deeply connected with their need to establish Christianity across the subcontinent as a viable alternative especially to those who were at the bottom-most level of the hierarchy and felt exploited in the caste system.

Early missionaries saw caste system as an obstacle to conversion to Christianity. The writings of Abbe Dubois, a French missionary and author of an influential account in 1816 titled as Description of the Characters, manners, and customs of the people of India, and of their institutions, religious, and civil noted the stranglehold of caste system on Indians. ‘Dubois thought that the Brahmins cleverly constructed the caste system by tuning civil institution into a sacred and immutable feature of society for the perpetuation of Brahmanical supremacy. It needs to be mentioned here that caste system was criticised because the missionaries felt that it thwarted their attempts to convert the Hindus into Christians. Even after conversion, many Hindus continued to be guided by caste rules.

Interestingly though in their search for the proof of a generally corrupting Hindu society, these missionaries made major contributions to the empirical study of the Indian society. Moreover, the need for translation of Bible into vernaculars led to socio-linguistic study of Indian languages. This in turn gave rise to more systematic and written accounts of the lived realities of the different caste and occupational groups. The missionaries also helped in the spread of modern education in different parts of India. They went to work in the remotest areas, like amongst tribals in the forests and worked with zeal and fervour for the weak and the poor.

In their analysis however, while the missionaries agreed with the Indologists and later the Orientalists (scholars of Eastern world) about the central principles of Indian society both did not attempt to fit the facts of political organisation, land tenure, actual legal systems, and commercial structure of the society into it. Orientalists and missionaries accepted and agreed that: Religious ideas and practices underlay all social structure; Primacy of the Brahman as the maintainer of the sacred tradition through Colonial Discourse his control of the knowledge of the sacred text; and Brahmanical theory of the four Varnas was accepted and saw the origin of the castes in the inter mixture through marriage of the members of the four Varnas.

The difference lay mainly in their evaluation of Indian culture. While the Orientalists and Indologists had immense admiration of an ancient Indian civilisation and were deeply aggrieved by the fall of Indian society from that ideal, the missionaries were of the view that there was no glorious past and it has always been filled with absurdities.

According to Cohn, the approach adopted by missionaries can also be attributed to their social backgrounds. Unlike the Indologists and Orientalists who tended to be from upper class backgrounds and better educated, the missionaries, particularly the Baptists came from lower rungs of the British society with a zeal for reforming both their own and the Indian society. They were determined to change the social order in favour of Christianity unlike Indologists and Orientalists who held a certain respect for Indian traditional system.

2. Who were the subalterns? Discuss with suitable examples. 20

Ans) The subaltern is a technical term for a certain kind of dispossessed person. It is a person who fits within the model of the Oppressor/Oppressed as the being so marginalized as to not even have the ‘voice’ of the oppressed. So, symbolically, we might say that the colonizer is Self, the colonized is Other, and all of those who are invisible to both Self and Other are the subaltern. Gayatri Spivak has the most theoretical look at the subaltern, and her work is still the root text for a discussion of the subaltern, in her article “Can the Subaltern Speak?” The answer to the title of her essay is no. The subaltern does not have a voice. Indeed, technically, once a subaltern has a voice, they are no longer the subaltern. They become Other, merely altern.

From this theoretical insight, a sub-set of post-colonial studies, the Subaltern Studies Group, attempted to find the trace of the subaltern in Indian history. One interesting look at this is Dipesh Chakrabarty. His example of the subaltern is the Indian rural masses. He argues that within the notion of the modern Indian state, citizenship requires certain subject-positions that many rural, illiterate Indians do not have. What is often taken for granted in any idea of the citizen is a number of things, including the more positivist understanding of history. For the Indian peasant, however, Chakrabarty argues that their mythos-historical conception is so different, that they are NOT, in fact, citizens of India. Their worldviews are different enough that they are elided by the state apparatus. Other examples of the subaltern are indigenous groups or lower-caste, lower-class women who are marginalized in such a way as to not have a voice.

Example: The 19th century British raj and the construction of Hinduism. The British Self and its colonial epistemes collaborated with its Other, the elite indigenous population. Together, they constructed a Hinduism that fit both their needs, however much the British (and French and German) set the terms for this collaboration (i.e., the category ‘religion’). The British got an essentialized Hinduism that could fit within their categories and could be used for both colonial domination and romantic resistance to modernity at home. The Elite Indians got to assert their Hinduism as the authentic Hinduism and then use it to attain status within the new colonized space of India, or to fight that colonization within this new ‘Hinduism’. Who gets left out? Those that are doubly marginalized. Those who are Othered by both the British and the indigenous elites. The tantrikas, the devadasis, the hijras, the rural populace (many of whom even today have no historical connection to colonization), the scheduled classes etc. Those are the subalterns, to one degree or another. We could quibble about relative Othering here, but I think the general structure holds.

The subaltern cannot speak, not because there are not activities in which we can locate a subaltern mode of life/culture/subjectivity, but because, as is indicated by the critique of thought and articulation given to us by Western intellectuals such as Lacan, Foucault, Barthes, Kristeva, and Derrida (Spivak’s most important reference), ‘speaking’ itself belongs to an already well-defined structure and history of domination. As Spivak says in an interview: ‘If the subaltern can speak then, thank God, the subaltern is not a subaltern anymore.’

Assignment - II

Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.

3. Discuss the classification of the Nationalist Movement given by Prof. A.R. Desai. 10

Ans) A. R Desai was one of the leading sociologists of India. He represents the Marxist school of thought in understanding Indian society and analysed the social background of Indian nationalism through analysing the material conditions. His book Social Background of Indian Nationalism was one of the pathbreaking works to understand social conditions of colonial India. Recent Trends in Indian Nationalism another important work of Desai. Desai investigated the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial times to understand the social background of Indian nationalism from Marxist point of view. During pre-colonial period in India the feudal class dominated the peasant’ class. This feudal class, many of which were under the Muslim rulers exploited the peasants. Desai analysed why and how nationalism in India emerged and what were the social and material conditions.

Desai tried to understand various factors that led to the nation formation in various corners of the world. For him the development of nationalism in different countries followed and was determined by various social and cultural history of the respective country along with “political, economic, and social structures, and the specific character of the psychological and economic traits of the social classes which were the vanguard of the struggle for a national social existence in those countries. Every nation was thus born and forged in a unique way”. Desai understood the stimulus of national sentiment hence he said such sentiments are dominant emotion in today’s world. All kinds of contemporary movements such as economic, cultural, political etc. were inspired by such emotions of nationalism. Desai has analysed the fundamental economic transformation of Indian society during colonial period. He behaved that the economic transformation was one of the important material pre-requisites for uniting the diverse population of the region. At the same time, he also addressed the role of other factors such as modern transport, new education, press, and others, in contributing towards the unification of the Indian people and in engendering a nationalist consciousness among them.

4. Describe the Jajmani system found in India. 10

Ans) The term Jajmani System was introduced into the Indian social anthropology by William Wiser through his pioneering work, ‘The Hindu Jajmani System’. In his study of a village in Uttar Pradesh, he discovered how different castes interacted with one another in the production and exchange of goods and services. It was found that, with some variations, this system existed throughout India. Based on the agricultural system of production and distribution of goods and services, Jajmani system is the link between the landowning high caste groups and occupational castes. It could be said that the Jajmani system is a system of distribution whereby high caste land owning families are provided services by various lower castes such as carpenter, barber, sweeper, etc. It is a system of economic, social, and ritual ties between different caste groups in the village. Under this system there are patrons and service castes. Since caste has a traditional association with an occupation, the castes are interdependent on each other for securing multiple services.

Jajmani system has undergone many significant changes in the past decades. In the village, not every caste participates in this system. In addition to the Jajmani relation, there has always been contractual, wage labour type of ties between the providers of goods and services and their buyers. Introduction of cash Caste economy has also brought about changes, because payments in the Jajmani system were in kind rather than in cash. New opportunities have come up in towns and cities, and many occupational castes have moved to cities to participate in these opportunities. The influence of lifestyle, modern education, improved transport, and communication has led to a decline in Jajmani system. Barter system of exchange is now almost extinct. Now payment is made in the form of cash. Broad changes in the caste system have also come in the way of the functioning of the traditional institution of Jajmani system.

5. Discuss the role of religion in a capitalist society with reference to Max Weber. 10

Ans) Religion being a pervasive and universal institution is deeply rooted in human beings. It is not just a strict institution but also exerts a tremendous influence upon all other institutions. Many sociologists and anthropologists were fascinated by the mystic side of religion. Weber therefore was no exception. What Weber was concerned within the sociology of religion was not religion on everyday life, on political, administrative, economic, and moral behaviour in different historical situations that he tried to understand and reduces to order. His study says that religion which is based on cultural needs of man has now added new dimensions to human life and human development. Weber suggested that the protestant institution and its ethics have played an important role in the development of their economy.

The Sociology of religion by Weber is a piece with all his sociology. His study promulgates that how far a particular sect of religion can influence the economic behaviour of its followers. Weber’s main concerned was to what extent religious conception of the world of existence have influenced the economic behaviour of various societies and specially the western society. Weber says that Calvinist sect of protestant Christian religion has strongest influences on the development of capitalism. The theory also captures several significant socio-economic influences which distinguish western from the eastern characteristics. He also embarked upon, through the “method of difference”, a comparative survey of the relation of economic ethics of world religions to economic life, and to underline “those elements of the economic ethics of the western religion which differentiate them from others.”

Assignment - III

Write a note on the following in about 100 words each.

6. Concept of Class 6

Ans) "Class" is a subject of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and social historians. However, there is not a consensus on a definition of "class" and the term has a wide range of sometimes conflicting meanings. Some people argue that due to social mobility, class boundaries do not exist. In common parlance, the term "social class" is usually synonymous with "socio-economic class", defined as "people having the same social, economic, cultural, political or educational status", e.g., "the working class"; "an emerging professional class". However, academics distinguish social class and socioeconomic status, using the former to refer to one's relatively stable sociocultural background and the latter to refer to one's current social and economic situation which is consequently more changeable over time.

7. Gender and Sex 6

Ans) Sex' and 'gender' are often used interchangeably, despite having different meanings:

Sex refers to a set of biological attributes in humans and animals. It is primarily associated with physical and physiological features including chromosomes, gene expression, hormone levels and function, and reproductive/sexual anatomy. Sex is usually categorized as female or male but there is variation in the biological attributes that comprise sex and how those attributes are expressed.

Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people. It influences how people perceive themselves and each other, how they act and interact, and the distribution of power and resources in society.

8. Concept of family 6

Ans) In human society, family is a group of people related either by consanguinity or affinity. The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would offer predictability, structure, and safety as members mature and participate in the community. In most societies, it is within families that children acquire socialization for life outside the family, and acts as the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans. Additionally, as the basic unit for meeting the basic needs of its members, it provides a sense of boundaries for performing tasks in a safe environment, ideally builds a person into a functional adult, transmits culture, and ensures continuity of humankind with precedents of knowledge.

9. Economy and its types 6

Ans) There are four types of economic systems:

  1. Traditional Economic System: This economic system retains basic traits such as low specialisation and labour division.

  2. The command or socialist economic system is characterised by a dominant centralised authority in the form of government. The government controls the economy in such a country. It is the solitary authority in charge of deciding on production and allocation.

  3. Market Economic System: A market economic system, often known as a capitalist economy, contains very little government intervention and embraces free market principles. There is only a smattering of resource control.

  4. A mixed economic system incorporates the characteristics of both socialism and free-market economic systems. Dual systems is another name for it. The majority of countries today have a mixed economic system, including both public and private sectors.

10. Types of mode of production

Ans) The types of modes of production are:

  1. Asiatic Mode of Production: The term "Asian mode of production" refers to a unique method of manufacturing. This is not to be confused with the ancient slave or feudal modes of production.

  2. Ancient Mode of Production: It refers to the modes of production that existed before capitalism. Slavery is considered as the cornerstone of the productive system in several of these words. The relationship between masters and slaves is said to be the essence of slavery. The master holds the right of ownership over the slave and appropriates the slave's labour output in this system of production.

  3. Feudal Mode of Production: The definition of the capitalist mode of production was a major concern for Marx and Engels. Their scholarship on feudalism reflected this fascination, with a particular focus on the transition between feudal and capitalist modes of production.

  4. Capitalist Form of Production: Capitalism is a mode of production in which capital is the most important factor. It can be in the form of cash or credit for the purchase of labour and production materials.

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