Chapter 3


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Chapter 3

  1. 1. 40 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY CHAPTER 3 UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS I least acknowledged by law or by custom. And whose regular andINTRODUCTION continuous operation cannot be understood without taking those rulesThis book began with a discussion into account. Institutions imposeabout the interaction of the individual constraints on individuals. They alsoand society. We saw that each of us as provide him/her with opportunities.individuals, occupies a place or An institution can also be viewed aslocation in society. Each one of us has an end in itself. Indeed people havea status and a role or roles, but these viewed the family, religion, state or evenare not simply what we as individuals education as an end in itself.choose. They are not like roles a filmactor may or may not opt to do. There Activity 1are social institutions that constrain andcontrol, punish and reward. They could Think of examples of how peoplebe ‘macro’ social institutions like the sacrifice for the family, for religion,state or ‘micro’ ones like the family. for the state.Here in this chapter we are introducedto social institutions, and also to how We have already seen that theresociology/social anthropology studies are conflicting and differentthem. This chapter puts forth a very understandings of concepts withinbrief idea of some of the central areas sociology. We have also been introducedwhere important social institutions are to the functionalist and conflictlocated namely: (i) family, marriage and perspective, and seen how differentlykinship; (ii) politics; (iii) economics; they saw the same thing, for instance(iv) religion; and (v) education. stratification or social control. Not In the broadest sense, an surprisingly, therefore, there areinstitution is something that works different forms of understanding ofaccording to rules established or at social institutions as well.
  2. 2. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 41 A functionalist view understands IIsocial institutions as a complex set ofsocial norms, beliefs, values and role FAMILY, MARRIAGE AND KINSHIPrelationship that arise in response to Perhaps no other social entity appearsthe needs of society. Social institutions more ‘natural’ than the family. Often weexist to satisfy social needs. Accordingly are prone to assume that all families arewe find informal and formal social like the ones we live in. No other socialinstitutions in societies. Institutions institution appears more universal andsuch as family and religion are unchanging. Sociology and socialexamples of informal social institutions anthropology have over many decadeswhile law and (formal) education are conducted field research acrossformal social institutions. cultures to show how the institutions of family, marriage and kinship are A conflict view holds that all important in all societies and yet theirindividuals are not placed equally in character is different in differentsociety. All social institutions whether societies. They have also shown how thefamilial, religious, political, economic, family (the private sphere) is linked tolegal or educational will operate in the the economic, political, cultural,interest of the dominant sections of educational (the public) spheres. Thissociety be it class, caste, tribe or gender. may remind you of why there is a needThe dominant social section not only to share and borrow from differentdominates political and economic disciplines, which we have discussed in Chapter 1.institutions but also ensures that the According to the functionalists theruling class ideas become the ruling family performs important tasks, whichideas of a society. This is very different contribute to society’s basic needs andfrom the idea that there are general helps perpetuate social order. Theneeds of a society. functionalist perspective argues that As you go about reading this modern industrial societies functionchapter, see whether you can think best if women look after the family andof examples to show how social men earn the family livelihood. In India studies however suggest that familiesinstitutions constrain and also offer need not become nuclear in anopportunities to individuals. Notice industrial pattern of economy (Singhwhether they impact different sections 1993: 83). This is but one example toof society unequally. For instance, we show how trends based on experiencescould ask, “How does the family of one society cannot necessarily beconstrain as well provide opportunities men and women?” Or “How do The nuclear family is seen as thepolitical or legal institutions affect the unit best equipped to handle theprivileged and dispossessed?” demands of industrial society by the
  3. 3. 42 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGYfunctionalists. In such a family one families have always existed in Indiaadult can work outside the home while particularly among the deprived castesthe second adult cares for the home and and classes.children. In practical terms, this The sociologist A.M. Shah remarksspecialisation of roles within the that in post-independent India thenuclear family involves the husband joint family has steadily increased.adopting the ‘instrumental’ role as The contributing factor is thebreadwinner, and the wife assuming increasing life expectancy in Indiathe ‘affective’, emotional role in domestic according to him. It has increasedsettings (Giddens 2001). This vision is from 32.5 - 55.4 years for men andquestionable not just because it is from 31.7 - 55.7 years for womengender unjust but because empirical during the period 1941 - 50 to 1981 - 85. Consequently, thestudies across cultures and history proportion of aged people (60 yearsshow that it is untrue. Indeed, as you and above) in the total populationwill see in the discussion on work and has increased. “We have to ask”economy how in contemporary writes Shah — “in what kind ofindustries like the garment export, household do these elderly peoplewomen form a large part of the labour live? I submit, most of them live inforce. Such a separation also suggests joint household” (Shah; 1998).that men are necessarily the heads of This again is a broad generalisation.households. This is not necessarily true But in the spirit of the sociologicalas the box which is given below shows. perspective, it cautions us against blindly believing a common senseVariation in Family Forms impression that the joint family is fastA central debate in India has been eroding. And alerts us to the need forabout the shift from nuclear family to careful comparative and empiricaljoint families. We have already seen how studies.sociology questions common sense Studies have shown how diverseimpressions. The fact is that nuclear family forms are found in different Female headed households When men migrate to urban areas, women have to plough and manage the agricultural fields. Many a time they become the sole providers of their families. Such households are known as female headed households. Widowhood too might create such familial arrangement. Or it may happen when men get re- married and stop sending remittance to their wives, children and other dependents. In such a situation, women have to ensure the maintenance of the family. Among the Kolams, a tribal community in south-eastern Maharashtra and northern Andhra Pradesh, a female headed household is an accepted norm.
  4. 4. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 43societies. With regard to the rule of Families are Linked to other Socialresidence, some societies are matrilocal Spheres and Families Changein their marriage and family customs Often in our everyday life we look atwhile others are patrilocal. In the firstcase, the newly married couple stays the family as distinct and separate fromwith the woman’s parents, whereas in other spheres such as the economic orthe second case the couple lives with political. However, as you will see forthe man’s parents. A patriarchal family yourself the family, the household, itsstructure exists where the men structure and norms are closely linkedexercise authority and dominance, and to the rest of society. An interestingmatriarchy where the women play a example is that of the unintendedmajor role in decision-making in the consequences of the German uni-family. While matrilineal societies exist, fication. During the post-unificationthe same cannot be claimed about period in the 1990s Germanymatriarchal societies. witnessed a rapid decline in marriage Notice how families and residences are different Work and Home
  5. 5. 44 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGYbecause the new German state the female child will leave on marriagewithdrew all the protection and welfare results in families investing more in aschemes which were provided to the male child. Despite the biological factfamilies prior to the unification. With that a female baby has better chancesgrowing sense of economic insecurity of survival than a male baby the rate ofpeople responded by refusing to marry. infant mortality among female childrenThis can also be understood as a is higher in comparison to malecase of unintended consequence children in lower age group in India.(Chapter 1). Family and kinship are thus The Institution of Marriagesubject to change and transformation Historically marriage has been founddue to macro economic processes but to exist in a wide variety of forms inthe direction of change need not alwaysbe similar for all countries and regions. Activity 2Moreover, change does not mean the A Telegu expression states:complete erosion of previous norms and ‘Bring-ing up a daughter is likestructure. Change and continuity watering a plant in another’sco-exist. courtyard’. Find out other suchHow gendered is the family? sayings that are contrary. Discuss how popular sayings reflect theThe belief is that the male child will social arrangement of a society,support the parents in the old age and Sex Ratio in India between 1901-2001 Year Sex Ratio Year Sex Ratio 1901 972 1951 946 1911 964 1961 941 1921 955 1971 930 1931 950 1981 934 1941 945 1991 926 2001 (927)* * In 2001 the sex ratio of girls in 0-6 group was enumerated as 927 The incidence of female foeticide has led to a sudden decline in the sex ratio. The child sex ratio has declined from 934 per thousand males in 1991 to 927 in 2001. The percentage of decline in the child sex ratio is more alarming. The situation of prosperous states like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra and western Utter Pradesh is all the more grave. In Punjab the child sex ratio has declined to 793 girls per 1,000 boys. In some of the districts of Punjab and Haryana it has fallen below 700.
  6. 6. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 45different societies. It has also been right for upper caste Hindu widowsfound to perform differing functions. was denied and that the campaign forIndeed, the manner in which marriage widow remarriage was a major issuepartners are arranged reveal an in the 19th century reform movements.astonishing variety of modes and What you are probably less aware iscustoms. that today in modern India nearly 10 per cent of all women and 55 per cent Activiy 3 of women over fifty years are widows (Chen 2000:353). Find out about the different ways Polygamy denotes marriage to that different societies go about more than one mate at one time and finding marriage partners. takes the form of either: Polygyny (one husband with two or more wives) or Polyandry (one wife with two or moreForms of Marriage husbands). Usually where economicMarriage has a large variety of forms. conditions are harsh, polyandry mayThese forms can be identified on the be one response of society, since inbasis of the number of partners and such situations a single male cannotrules governing who can marry whom. adequately support a wife andIn terms of the number of partners that children. Also, extreme povertycan legitimately enter into matrimony, conditions pressurise a group to limitwe have two forms of marriage, its population.namely, monogamy and polygamy.Monogamy restricts the individual to The Matter of Arranging Marriages:one spouse at a time. Under this Rules and Prescriptionssystem, at any given time a man can In some societies, the decisionshave only one wife and a woman can regarding mate selection are madehave only one husband. Even where by parents/relatives; in some otherpolygamy is permitted, in actual societies individuals are relatively freepractice, monogamy is more widely to choose their own mates.prevalent. In many societies, individuals are Rules of Endogamy and Exogamypermitted to marry again, often on thedeath of the first spouse or after In some societies these restrictionsdivorce. But they cannot have more are subtle, while in some others,than one spouse at one and the same individuals who can or cannot betime. Such a monogamous marriage married, are more explicitly andis termed serial monogamy. Re- specifically defined. Forms of marriagemarriages on the death of a wife have based on rules governing eligibility/been a norm for men for the most part. ineligibility of mates is classified asBut as all of you are aware that the endogamy and exogamy.
  7. 7. 46 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Endogamy requires an individual Rock-a-bye-baby, combs in yourto marry within a culturally defined pretty hair,group of which he or she is already a The bridegroom will come soon and take you awaymember, as for example, caste. The drums beat loudly, the shehnaiExogamy, the reverse of endogamy, is playing softlyrequires the individual to marry outside A stranger’s son has come to fetch meof his/her own group. Endogamy and Come my playmates, come with ourexogamy are in reference to certain toyskinship units, such as, clan, caste and Let us play, for I shall never playracial, ethnic or religious groupings. In again When I go off to the strangers’ house.India, village exogamy is practised incertain parts of north India. Village (Dube 2001: 94)exogamy ensured that daughters weremarried into families from villages far Activity 4away from home. This arrangementensured smooth transition and Collect different wedding songs andadjustment of the bride into the affinal discuss how they reflect the socialhome without interference of her dynamics of marriages and ofkinsmen. The geographical distance gender the unequal relationship in thepatrilineal system ensured that married Activity 5daughters did not get to see theirparents too often. Thus parting from Have you ever seen matrimonialnatal home was a sad occasion and is advertisements? Divide your classthe theme of folk songs, which depict into groups and look at differentthe pain of departure. newspapers, magazines and the internet. Discuss your findings. Do Father, we are like flocks of bird you think endogamy is still the We shall fly away; Our flight will be prevalent norm? How does it help long, you to understand choice in We know not to which, marriage? More importantly, what Region we will go. kind of changes in society does it Father, my palanquin cannot reflect? Pass through your palace, (because the door is too small) Daughter, I shall remove a brick Defining Some Basic Concepts, (to enlarge the passage for your Particularly those of Family, palanquin), Kinship and Marriage You must go to your home. A family is a group of persons (Chanana 1993: WS 26) directly linked by kin connections,
  8. 8. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 47the adult members of which assume IIIresponsibility for caring for children.Kinship ties are connections between WORK AND ECONOMIC LIFEindividuals, established either throughmarriage or through the lines of descent What is Work?that connect blood relatives (mothers,fathers, siblings, offspring, etc.) As children and young students weMarriage can be defined as a socially imagine what kind of ‘work’ we will doacknowledged and approved sexual when we grow up. ‘Work’ here quiteunion between two adult individuals. clearly refers to paid employment. ThisWhen two people marry, they become is the most widely understood sense ofkin to one another. The marriage bond ‘work’ in modern times.also, however, connects together a wider This in fact is an oversimplified view.range of people. Parents, brothers, Many types of work do not conform tosisters and other blood relatives become the idea of paid employment. Much ofrelatives of the partner through the work done in the informal economy,marriage. The family of birth is called for example, is not recorded in anyfamily of orientation and the family in direct way in the official employmentwhich a person is married is called the statistics. The term informal economyfamily of procreation. The kin who are refers to transactions outside therelated through “blood” are called sphere of regular employment,consanguinal kin while the kin who are sometimes involving the exchange ofrelated through marriage are called cash for services provided, but alsoaffines. As we move on to the next often involving the direct exchange ofsection on work and economic goods or services.institutions, you will notice how the We can define work, whether paidfamily and economic life are closely or unpaid, as the carrying out of tasksinterconnected. requiring the expenditure of mental and There was no occupation, which Tiny’s Granny had not tried at some stage of her life. From the time she was old enough to hold her own cup she had started working at odd jobs in people’s houses in return for her two meals a day and cast-off clothes. Exactly what the words ‘odd jobs’ mean, only those know who have been kept at them at an age when they ought to have been laughing and playing with other children. Anything from the uninteresting duty of shaking the baby’s rattle to massaging the master’s head comes under the category of ‘odd jobs’ (Chugtai 2004:125). Find out more about the various kinds of ‘work’ done from your own observation or literature or even films. Discuss.
  9. 9. 48 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Kind of Worksphysical effort, which has as its objectivethe production of goods and services Activity 6that cater to human needs. Find out the proportion of IndiansModern Forms of Work and Division who are in rural based occupations.of Labour Make a list of these occupations.In pre-modern forms of society mostpeople worked in the field or cared forthe livestock. In the industrially agriculture, and farming itself hasdeveloped society only a tiny pro- become industrialised — it is carried onportion of the population works in largely by means of machines rather
  10. 10. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 49than by human hand. In a country likeIndia, the larger share of the population Activity 8continues to be rural and agricultural Have you seen a master weaver ator involved in other rural based work? Find out how long one pieceoccupations. of shawl may take to make? There are other trends in India too,for instance an expansion of the servicesector. People seeking jobs in factories One of the most distinctive were trained to perform a specialisedcharacteristics of the economic system task and receive a wage for this work.of modern societies is the existence of a Managers supervised the work, forhighly complex division of labour. Work their task was to enhance workerhas been divided into an enormous productivity and discipline.number of different occupations in One of the main features of modernwhich people specialise. In traditional societies is an enormous expansion ofsocieties, non-agricultural work economic interdependence. We are allentailed the mastery of a craft. Craft dependent on an immense number ofskills were learned through a lengthy other workers-stretching right acrossperiod of apprenticeship, and the the world- for the products and servicesworker normally carried out all aspects that sustain our lives. With fewof the production process from exceptions, the vast majority of peoplebeginning to end. in modern societies do not produce the food they eat, the houses they live in or Activity 7 the material goods they consume. Find out whether there has been a shift to the service sector in India Activity 9 in recent times. Which are these Make a list of the food that you eat, sectors? the materials that were used to make Modern society also witnesses a the houses you live in, the clothesshift in the location of work. Before you wear. Find out how and whoindustrialisation, most work took place made home and was completed collectivelyby all the members of the household.Advances in industrial technology, Transformation of Worksuch as machinery operating on Industrial processes were broken downelectricity and coal, contributed to the into simple operations that could beseparation of work and home. Factories precisely timed, organised andowned by capitalist entrepreneurs monitored. Mass production demandsbecame the focal point of industrial mass markets. One of the mostdevelopment. significant innovations was the
  11. 11. 50 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Discuss the two forms of production in the two sets of visuals Cloth production in a factory
  12. 12. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 51 Threshing of paddy in a village
  13. 13. 52 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGYconstruction of a moving assembly line. vision here is that of the creation ofModern industrial production needed an international opinion forumexpensive equipment and continuous (Roy Choudhury 2005 :2254).monitoring of employees throughmonitoring or surveillance systems. Read the above given report carefully. Over the last decades there has been Notice how the new organisation ofa shift to what is often called ‘flexible production and a body of customersproduction’ and ‘decentralisation of outside the country have altered thework’. It is argued that in this period economics and the politics ofof globalisation, it is the growing production.competition between firms andcountries that makes it essential for IVfirms to organise production suiting the POLITICSchanging market conditions. Toillustrate how this new system operates Political institutions are concerned withand what the implications may be for the distribution of power in society. Twothe workers, read the quote from a concepts, which are critical to the understanding of political institutions,study of the garment industry in are power and authority. Power is theBangalore. ability of individuals or groups to carry The industry is essentially part of a out their will even when opposed by long supply chain, and the freedom others. It implies that those who hold power do so at the cost of others. There of manufacturers is to that extent is a fixed amount of power in a society extremely limited. There are, in fact and if some wield power others do not. more than a hundred operations In other words, an individual or group between the designer and the final does not hold power in isolation, they consumer. In this chain, only hold it in relation to others. 15 are in the hands of the This notion of power is fairly manufacturer. Any serious inclusive and extends from family elders agitation for a rise in wages would assigning domestic duties to their lead manufacturers to shift their children to principals enforcing operations to other localities, discipline in school; from the General beyond the reach of unionists... Manager of a factory distributing work among the executives to political leaders whether it is the payment of the regulating programmes of their parties. existing minimum wage, or its The principal has power to maintain substantial revision upwards, what discipline in school. The president of a is important is to enlist the support political party possesses power to expel of the retailer in order to create the a member from the party. In each case, necessary pressure upon the an individual or group has power to the government and local agencies for extent to which others abide by their a higher wage structure and its will. In this sense, political activities or effective implementation. Thus the politics is concerned with ‘power’.
  14. 14. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 53 But how is this ‘power’ applied to capacity to use military force toachieve its aim? Why do people comply implement its policies. The functionalistwith others’ commands? Answers to perspective sees the state asthese questions could be found with representing the interests of all sectionsreference to a related concept of of society. The conflict perspective sees‘authority’. Power is exercised through the state as representing the dominantauthority. Authority is that form of sections of society.power, which is accepted as legitimate, Modern states are very differentthat is, as right and just. It is from traditional states. These states areinstitutionalised because it is based on defined by sovereignty, citizenshiplegitimacy. People in general accept the and, most often, ideas of nationalism.power of those in authority as they Sovereignty refers to the undisputedconsider their control to be fair and political rule of a state over a givenjustified. Often ideologies exist that help territorial area.this process of legitimation. The sovereign state was not at first one in which citizenship carried with itStateless Societies rights of political participation. These were achieved largely throughEmpirical studies of stateless societies by struggles, which limited the power ofsocial anthropologists over sixty years monarchs, or actively overthrew them.ago demonstrated how order is The French Revolution and our ownmaintained without a modern Indian independence struggle are twogovernmental apparatus. There was instances of such movements.instead the balanced opposition Citizenship rights include civil,between parts; cross-cutting alliances, political and social rights. Civil rightsbased on kinship, marriage and involve the freedom of individuals toresidence; rites and ceremonies involving live where they choose; freedom ofthe participation of friends and foes. speech and religion; the right to own As we all know, the modern state property; and the right to equal justicehas a fixed structure and formal before the law. Political rights includeprocedures. Yet are not some of the the right to participate in elections andinformal mechanisms mentioned above to stand for public office. In mostas features of stateless societies present countries governments were reluctantalso in state societies? to admit the principle of universalThe Concept of the State franchise. In the early years not only women, but a large section of the maleA state exists where there is a political population was excluded as holding aapparatus of government (institutions certain amount of property was anlike a parliament or congress, plus civil eligibility criterion. Women had to waitservice officials) ruling over a given longer for the vote.territory. Government authority is The third type of citizenship rightsbacked by a legal system and by the are social rights. These concern the
  15. 15. 54 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Activity 10 Find out when women got voting rights in different countries. Why do you think that despite the right to vote and the right to stand for public office, women are so inadequately represented? Will power in its wider sense be a useful concept to understand this under-representation in the Parliament and other bodies? Does the existing division of labour within families and households impact women’s participation in political life? Find out why there is a demand for 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament?prerogative of every individual to enjoy community. Thus, individuals feel aa certain minimum standard of sense of pride and belonging, in beingeconomic welfare and security. They ‘British’, ‘Indian’, ‘Indonesian’ orinclude such rights as health benefits, ‘French’. Probably people have alwaysunemployment allowance, setting of felt some kind of identity with socialminimum level of wages. The groups of one form or another — forbroadening of social or welfare rights example, their family, clan or religiousled to the welfare state, which was community. Nationalism, however, onlyestablished in Western societies since made its appearance with thethe Second World War. States of the development of the modern state.erstwhile socialist countries had Contemporary world is marked both byfar-reaching provision in this sector. In a rapid expansion of the global marketmost developing countries, this was as well as intense nationalist feelingsvirtually non-existent. All over the and today these social rights are Sociology has been interested in thebeing attacked as liabilities on the state broader study of power, not just withand hindrances to economic growth. the formal apparatus of government. It Nationalism can be defined as a set has been interested in the distributionof symbols and beliefs providing the of power between parties, betweensense of being part of a single political classes, between castes, and between Activity 11 Activity 12 Collect information about different Collect information of events that states doing away with social show the growth of global inter - rights. Find out what explanation connectedness as well as instances is given for this. Discuss and of divisions along ethnic, religious, see whether you can see the national conflicts. Discuss how relationship between the economic, politics and economics may have a political and social spheres. part to play in them.
  16. 16. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 55communities based on race, language it to domestic life, economic life andand religion. Its focus is not just on what political life.may be called specifically political Religion exists in all knownassociation, such as state legislatures, societies, although religious beliefs andtown councils and political parties but practices vary from culture to culture.also associations such as schools, Characteristics that all religions seembanks and religious institutions whose to share are:aims are not primarily political. The ´ set of symbols, invoking feelings ofscope of sociology has been wide. Its reverence or awe;range has extended from the study of ´ rituals or ceremonies;international movements (such as ´ a community of believers.women or environmental) to villagefactions. The rituals associated with religion are very diverse. Ritual acts may include V praying, chanting, singing, eating certain kinds of food (or refraining fromRELIGION doing so), fasting on certain days, andReligion has been a subject of study so on. Since ritual acts are orientedand reflection for a very long time. In towards religious symbols, they areChapter 1, we have seen how usually seen as quite distinct from thesociological findings about society are habits and procedures of ordinary life.different from religious reflections. The Lighting a candle or diya to honour thesociological study of religion is different divine differs completely in itsfrom a religious or theological study of significance from doing so simply toreligion in many ways. One, it conducts light a room. Religious rituals are oftenempirical studies of how religions carried out by an individual in his/heractually function in society and its personal everyday life. But all religionsrelationship to other institutions. Two, also involve ceremonials practisedit uses a comparative method. Three, it collectively by believers. Regularinvestigates religious beliefs, practices ceremonials normally occur in specialand institutions in relation to other places — churches, mosques, temples,aspects of society and culture. shrines. The empirical method means that Religion is about the sacred realm.the sociologist does not have a Think of what members of differentjudgemental approach to religious religions do before entering a sacredphenomena. The comparative method realm. For example covering one’s head,is important because in a sense it or not covering one’s head, taking offbrings all societies on level with each shoes, or wearing particular kind ofother. It helps to study without bias clothes, etc. What is common to themand prejudice. The sociological all is the feeling of awe, recognitionperspective means that religious life and respect for a sacred places orcan be made intelligible only by relating situations.
  17. 17. 56 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY Sociologists of religion, following aspects of society. Why do you thinkEmile Durkheim, are interested in this is so?understanding this sacred realm which A pioneering work by Max Weberevery society distinguishes from (1864 -1920) demonstrates howthe profane. In most cases, the sociology looks at religion in itssacred includes an element of the relationship to other aspects of socialsupernatural. Often the sacred quality and economic behaviour. Weber arguesof a tree or a temple comes with the that Calvinism (a branch of Protestantbelief that it is sacred precisely because Christianity) exerted an importantthere is some supernatural force behind influence on the emergence and growthit. However, it is important to keep in of capitalism as a mode of economicmind that some religions like early organisation. The Calvinists believedBuddhism and Confucianism had no that the world was created for the gloryconception of the supernatural, but did of God, meaning that any work in thisallow sufficient reverence for things and world had to be done for His glory,persons which they considered sacred. making even mundane works acts of Studying religion sociologically worship. More importantly, however,lets us ask questions about the the Calvinists also believed in therelationship of religion with other social concept of predestination, which meantinstitutions. Religion has had a very that whether one will go to heaven orclose relationship with power and hell was pre-ordained. Since there waspolitics. For instance periodically in no way of knowing whether one hashistory there have been religious been assigned heaven or hell, peoplemovements for social change, like sought to look for signs of God’s will invarious anti-caste movements this world, in their own occupations.or movements against gender Thus if a person in whatever profession,discrimination. Religion is not just a was consistent and successful in his ormatter of the private belief of anindividual but it also has a public her work, it was interpreted as a signcharacter. And it is th is public character of God’s happiness. The money earnedof religion, which has an important was not to be used for worldlybearing on other institutions of society. consumption; rather the ethics of We have seen how sociology looks Calvinism was to live frugally. Thisat power in a wide sense. It is therefore meant that investment becameof sociological interest to look at the something like a holy creed. At therelationship between the political and heart of capitalism is the concept ofreligious sphere. Classical sociologists investment, which is about investingbelieved that as societies modernised, capital to make more goods, whichreligion would become less influential create more profit, which in turnover the various spheres of life. The creates more capital. Thus Weber wasconcept secularisation describes this able to argue that religion, in this caseprocess. Contemporary events suggest Calvinism, does have an influence ona persisting role of religion various economic development.
  18. 18. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 57 Religion cannot be studied as a VIseparate entity. Social forces alwaysand invariably influence religious EDUCATIONinstitutions. Political debates, economic Education is a life long process,situations and gender norms will involving both formal and informalalways influence religious behaviour. institutions of learning. Here we areConversely, religious norms influence however confining ourselves only toand sometimes even determine social school education. We are all aware howunderstanding. Women constitute half important getting admission into aof the world’s population. Sociologically school is. We also know, for many of us,therefore it becomes important to ask school is a step towards higherwhat relationship this vast segment of education and finally employment. Forhuman population has with religion. some of us it may mean acquiring someReligion is an important part of society necessary social skills. What is commonand is inextricably tied to other parts. in all cases is that there is a felt needThe task of sociologists is to unravel for education.these various interconnections. In Sociology understands this need astraditional societies, religion usually a process of transmission/commu-plays a central part in social life. nication of group heritage, common toReligious symbols and rituals are often all societies. There is a qualitativeintegrated with the material and artistic distinction between simple societiesculture of society. Read the extract and complex, modern societies. In thewhich is given below in the box to get a case of the former there was no needsense of how sociology studies religion. for formal schooling. Children learnt Many extraneous factors have affected the traditional lives of the religious specialists. The most important of these are the growth of new employment and educational opportunities in Nasik... after Independence, the way of life of the priests has been changing fast. Now the sons and daughters are sent to school, and are trained for jobs other than traditional ones… Like all places of pilgrimage, Nasik also gave rise to supplementary centres around religious activities. It was a normal routine for a pilgrim to take home the sacred water of the Godavari in a copper pot. The coppersmiths provided these wares. The pilgrims also bought wares, which they took home to be distributed as gifts among their relatives and friends. For long Nasik was known for its proficient craftsmen in brass, copper and silver... Since the demand for their wares is intermittent and uncertain, not all the adult males can be supported by this occupation... Many craftsmen have entered industry and business-both small and large scale (Acharya 1974: 399-401).
  19. 19. 58 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGYcustoms and the broader way of life by For Emile Durkheim, no society canparticipating in activities with their survive without a ‘common base-aadults. In complex societies, we saw certain number of ideas, sentimentsthere is an increasing economic division and practices which education mustof labour, separation of work from inculcate in all children indiscriminately,home, need for specialised learning and to whatever social category they belong’skill attainment, rise of state systems, (Durkheim 1956: 69). Educationnations and complex set of symbols and should prepare the child for a specialideas. How do you get educated occupation, and enable the child toinformally in such a context? How internalise the core values of society.would parents or other adults The functionalist sociologist thusinformally communicate all that has to speaks in terms of general socialbe known to the next generation? needs and social norms. For theEducation in such a social context has functionalists, education maintainsto be formal and explicit. and renews the social structure, Furthermore modern complex transmits and develops culture. Thesocieties in contrast to simple societies educational system is an importantrest on abstract universalistic values. mechanism for the selection andThis is what distinguishes it from a allocation of the individuals in theirsimple society that depends on future roles in the society. It is alsoparticularistic values, based on family, regarded as the ground for provingkin, tribe, caste or religion. Schools in one’s ability and hence selectivemodern societies are designed to agency for different status accordingpromote uniformity, standardised to their abilities. Recall ouraspirations and universalistic values. discussion on the functionalistThere are many ways of doing this. For understanding of roles andexample one can speak of ‘uniform stratification in Chapter 2.dress for school children’. Can you For the sociologists who perceivethink of other features that promote society as unequally differentiated,standardisation? education functions as a main Discuss the visuals
  20. 20. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 59stratifying agent. And at the same The above report indicates howtime the inequality of educational gender and caste discriminationopportunity is also a product of social impinges upon the chances ofstratification. In other words we go to education. Recall how we began thisdifferent kinds of schools depending on book in Chapter 1 about a child’sour socio-economic background. Andbecause we go to some kind of schools,we acquire different kind of privilegesand finally opportunities. For instance some argue thatschooling ‘intensifies the existing dividebetween the elite and the masses.’Children going to privileged schoolslearn to be confident while childrendeprived of that may feel the opposite(Pathak 2002:151). However, there aremany more children who simply cannotattend school or drop out. For instancea study reports : You are seeing some children in the school now. If you come during the cultivation season you may see almost zero attendance from the SC and ST children. They all take some household responsibilities while the parents are out to work. And the girl Discuss the visual children of these communities seldom attend school as they do chances for a good job being shaped various kinds of work both domestic by a host of social factors. Your and income generating. A 10 year understanding of the way social old girl picks dry cow dung to sell institutions function should help you for example (Pratichi 2002:60). analyse the process better now. Activity 13 A study of a kindergarten suggested that children learn that: ´ ‘work activities are more important than play activities’. ´ ‘work includes any and all teacher -directed activities.’ ´ ‘work is compulsory and free time activities are called play’ (Apple 1979:102). What do you think? Discuss.
  21. 21. 60 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY GLOSSARY Citizen : A member of a political community, having both rights and duties associated with that membership. Division of Labour : The specialisation of work tasks, by means of which different occupations are combined within a production system. All societies have at least some rudimentary form of division of labour. With the development of industrialism, however, the division of labour becomes vastly more complex than in any prior type of production system. In the modern world, the division of labour is international in scope. Gender : Social expectations about behaviour regarded as appropriate for the members of each sex. Gender is seen as a basic organising principle of society. Empirical Investigation : Factual enquiry carried out in any given area of sociological study. Endogamy : When marriage is within a specific caste, class or tribal group. Exogamy : When marriage occurs outside a certain group of relations. Ideology : Shared ideas or beliefs, which serve to justify the interests of dominant groups. Ideologies are found in all societies in which there are systematic and engrained inequalities between groups. The concept of ideology connects closely with that of power, since ideological systems serve to legitimise the differential power which groups hold. Legitimacy : The belief that a particular political order is just and valid. Monogamy : When marriage involves one husband and one wife alone. Polygamy : When marriage involves more than one mate at one time. Polyandry : When more than one man is married to a woman. Polygyny : When more than one woman is married to a man. Service Industries : Industries concerned with the production of services rather than manufactured goods, such as the travel industry. State Society : A society which possesses a formal apparatus of government. Stateless Society : A society which lacks formal institutions of government. Social Mobility : Movement from one status or occupation to another. Sovereignty : The undisputed political rule of a state over a given territorial area.
  22. 22. UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS 61 EXERCISES 1. Note what are the marriage rules that are followed in your society. Compare your observations with that made by other students in the class. Discuss. 2. Find out how membership, residence pattern and even the mode of interaction changes in the family with broader economic, political and cultural changes, for instance migration. 3. Write an essay on ‘work’. Focus on both the range of occupations, which exist and how they change. 4. Discuss the kind of rights that exist in your society. How do they affect your life? 5. How does sociology study religion? 6. Write an essay on the school as a social institution. Draw from both your reading as well as your personal observations. 7. Discuss how these social institutions interact with each other. You can start the discussion from yourself as a senior school student. And move on to how you are shaped by different social institutions. Are you entirely controlled or can you also resist and redefine social institutions? READINGS ACHARYA, HEMLATA. 1974. ‘Changing Role of Religious Specialists in Nasik — The Pilgrim City’, in ed. RAO, M.S. An Urban Sociology in India : Reader and Source Book, Orient Longman, New Delhi, pp. 391-403. APPLE, MICHAEL W. 1979. Ideology and Curriculum. Routledge and Kegan Paul, LONDON. CHUGTAI, ISMAT. 2004. Tiny’s Granny in Contemporary Indian Short Stories; Series 1. Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. DUBE, LEELA. 2001. Anthropological Explorations in Gender : Intersecting Fields. Sage Publications, New Delhi. DURKHEIM, EMILE. 1956. Education and Sociology. The Free Press, New York. PATHAK, AVIJIT. 2002. Social Implications of Schooling : Knowledge, Pedagogy and Consciousness. Rainbow Publishers, Delhi. PRATICHI. 2002. The Pratichi Education Report. Pratichi Trust, Delhi.
  23. 23. 62 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY R OY C HOUDHUR Y , S UPRIYA . 2005. ‘Labour Activism and Women in the Unorganised Sector : Garment Export Industry in Bangalore’, Economic and Political Weekly. May 28-June 4. pp. 2250-2255. SHAH, A.M. 1998. Family in India : Critical Essays. Orient Longman, Hyderabad. S INGH , Y OGENDRA . 1993. Social Change in India : Crisis and Resilience. Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi. UBEROI, PATRICIA. 2002. ‘Family, Kinship and Marriage in India’, in Student’s Britannica, India. Vol.6, pp.145-155. Encyclopedia Britannica Private Ltd, New Delhi.