ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Continuous Hierarchies and Discrete Castes

Continuous Hierarchies and Discrete Castes Dipankar Gupta White empirical studies have disproved the traditional Indological-cum-sociological view of a strict and irreconcilable dichotomy between caste and modern social institutions or practices, the conceptual framework within which castes in India have been understood has received no major reformulation. It is for this reason probably that studies which demonstrate the malleability of the caste structure and beliefs remain at the level of case studies and have not been able to provide an alternative conspectus on the issue of castes at a general level. The purpose of this paper is to suggest an alternative conceptual formulation on castes which can fully integrate many of the empirical findings. [The paper is being published in three parts. The second and third parts will appear in the following weeks.] CONTEMPORARY scholarship on caste continues to be influenced by the concerns of early European scholars who, in addition to being perplexed by this peculiar institution, also pondered over the possibility of India's entry, into the modern age burdened as it was by the incubus of the caste system. India today has entered the modern age, without perhaps adequate streamlining, as the caste system refused to be steam rolled into a distant past.

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