Caste as Community? Networks of social affinity in a South Indian village
AbstractWe examine three theories of caste and community using new data on social networks among residents of a south Indian village. The first theory treats individual caste groups as separated communities driven by the Brahmanical ideology of hierarchy based on purity and pollution. The second theory departs from the first by placing kings and landlords at the centre of rural (primeval) social structure. Here ritual giving by kings provides the glue that holds a community together by transferring inauspiciousness to gift-recipients and ensuring community welfare. The third theory, that may be treated as a corollary of the second, argues that powerful leaders in the religious and political domains act as patrons of people in their constituencies and forge a sense of community. The resulting community may be single or multi-caste. Using a community structure algorithm from social network analysis, we divide the network of the village into thirteen tight-knit clusters. We find that no cluster or community in the social network has exactly the same boundaries as a caste group in the village. Barring three exceptions, all clusters are multi-caste. Our results are most consistent with the third theory: each cluster has a patron/leader who represents the interests of his constituency at village-level fora and bridges caste and community divides.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by United Nations University, Maastricht Economic and social Research and training centre on Innovation and Technology in its series UNU-MERIT Working Paper Series with number 037.
Date of creation: 2009
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Web page: http://www.merit.unu.edu
Social networks; culture; caste; social change; community development; rural India;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
- O10 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-09-26 (All new papers)
- NEP-CWA-2009-09-26 (Central & Western Asia)
- NEP-DEV-2009-09-26 (Development)
- NEP-NET-2009-09-26 (Network Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2009-09-26 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
- NEP-URE-2009-09-26 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- James Moody & Douglas R. White, 2000. "Structural Cohesion and Embeddedness: A Hierarchical Conception of Social Groups," Working Papers 00-08-049, Santa Fe Institute.
- Deshpande, Ashwini, 2001. "Caste at Birth? Redefining Disparity in India," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 130-44, February.
- Kijima, Yoko, 2006. "Caste and Tribe Inequality: Evidence from India, 1983-1999," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 369-404, January.
- Ashwini Deshpande, 2000. "Does Caste Still Define Disparity? A Look at Inequality in Kerala, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 322-325, May.
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