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

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The Marching Millions

An Obloquy for Indian Sociology

A critique of the century-long history of Indian sociology examines contemporary disciplinary practices in relation to its increasing embrace of what it calls the diasporic forms of knowledge production and dissemination. It brings out the debilitating implications of such an overdependence on the global recognition of our scholarly endeavours. While drawing on the introspective legacy of the discipline, it enjoins students of Indian sociology to reflect on the current state of the discipline with a view to reinvigorate it with empirically grounded works of lasting value. It makes a plea for the contextual and empirically grounded development of sociological theories and the discipline.

The author thanks Nabanipa Bhattacharjee for helpful comments on the draft of this article.

Given its century-long history, Indian sociology can no longer take refuge under it being a nascent discipline of colonial vantage yet to find its firm feet in the Indian soil. With no inconsiderable state support, it has seen considerable institutional expansion in postcolonial India. As a matter of fact, it has acquired substantial public esteem as a significant social science discipline. In our media-saturated world, sociologists too are sought after for their expert opinions (in newspapers, periodicals, television studios, podcasts and the like) on relevant issues of the day. Like most modern professions, some of them count among the public intellectuals with an anti-establishment streak while some others serve the state on various consultative committees of varying significance.

As enlightened citizens of a politically vibrant republic, most of them are also likely to act as ideologues, propagandists, pamphleteers, polemicists and thought leaders representing a wide array of sectional, sectarian and general interests. Or they can simply choose to be careerists; careerism itself being an ideological choice of no mean consequence in a country like ours. Or they can simply be many things rolled into one; performing different roles in different contexts with seamless ease. Evidently, the diversity of sociologists translates into a variety of sociological practices (or is it the other way around?). This multiplicity of both the sociologists and sociologies makes any contemporary discussion of the discipline quite a hazardous exercise, including the very choice of the expression “Indian sociology” in the title of this article.

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Updated On : 6th Feb, 2024
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