Social Scientist. v 17, no. 192-93 (May-June 1989) p. 93.

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On Sociology in/of India: Toward a Discursive Deviation

'Audacity, audacity, still more audacity!'


Theoretical work, it will be acknowledged, proceeds by constant problematisations and reconstructions. As part of such an exercise, this essay may indicate possibilities which are not wholly borne out by the analysis. Our task is not to present a survey of research in sociology and social anthropology, or to evaluate the contributions of individual sociologists. Instead, we hope to address some issues, primarily of a discursive kind, that bear on the sociological enterprise in India. We ask: can the issue be merely posed in terms that suggest that Indian sociology is 'imitative',1 that it has not broken from 'colonial and semi-feudal perspectives' and that it has not evolved a 'language* of its own?2 Or, alternatively, that it has not been 'wholly imitative',3 that it has been responsive to nationalistic and social concerns?4 And, that Indian sociology remains grounded on a 'deductive-positivistic' base and is therefore delimited in its comprehension of social reality,5 that sociologists have neglected 'the concept of the desired type of society' in their studies,6 that basically 'non-Marxist' approaches have dominated Indian sociology while the Marxist paradigm is the most relevant framework for the study of Indian society,7 that sociologists must address themselves to issues of social policy,8 that social epistemology has failed to encounter social reality,9 and so on? Or, can the issue be posed as Saberwal has done: 'How does an intellectual tradition, arising out of a civilisation wUh particular kinds of intellectual and social habits and resources become domesticated in another civilisation whose intellectual habits and resources have been very different?'10

In this essay, we will focus on the frame, what will be called the discursive core, that sustains the practice of sociology in India. Our way of handling the issues involved here is not by giving a comprehensive account of the development of Indian sociology nor by

* Department of Sociology, Goa University.

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