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

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The Evolving Forms of Caste

Caste in Contemporary India by Surinder Jodhka (New Delhi: Routledge), 2014; pp xvii + 252, Rs 695 (hardback).

Hugo Gorringe ( teaches at the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, the UK.

I can imagine that one of the first questions people encountering this monograph will ask is: “do we really need another book on caste?” Given prevailing political sentiments, some might even be moved to wonder whether academics rank alongside unsavoury political entrepreneurs as those most responsible for keeping caste alive. Both questions, such potential readers may be surprised to learn, are addressed head on in an introduction that persuasively makes the case for an analysis of caste in contemporary India.

Surinder Jodhka is one of the foremost sociologists in India and in this book he draws together data gained from extensive research over time to capture key processes of continuity and change. The book also breaks ground in seeking to shift analysis of caste away from two popular fallacies: the notion of Indian exceptionalism which sees caste as unlike any form of social stratification in the world; and the argument of liberal academics and modernisation theorists that caste will inevitably disappear so long as political entrepreneurs do not keep it alive.

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