Dynamics of the Social Structure of Indian Rural Society
In this paper the author tries to present, in an extremely condensed form, some preliminary results, major assumptions and working hypotheses of his research over the dynamics of social and class structure of Indian rural society in contemporary period (the project is currently in a 'mid-term' stage). The study is focused on the trends and directions of further transformations of socio-economic classes of Indian agrarian society as emerged in early colonial period.
Socio-economic classes are defined as major groups of people playing similar functional role in the process of socio-economic reproduction and having (more or less) similar relations to the means of production (in our case primarly to the land). This does not at any rate mean that a class is of an iron-homogeneous character. On the contrary, a class is composed of numerous groupings representing different trades and professions, territorial subdivisions as well as of various sub-class strata representing the internal evolution of the class. Moreover these internal structural sub-divisions of a class are intertwined with various status groups, as estates and orders, castes, ethno-cultural, religious etc. strata and their institutions. And the whole composite structure of a class is in eternal movement and change. The emergence in the womb of the old socio-class organisation of new socio economic classes signified the transition to a new stage, or phase of economic and socio-cultural development, that is to a new socio economic formation.
In India the transition from feudalism (in its South-Asian variety of Oriental type) started after the establishing of British Raj. During the first hundred years of colonial era the basic framework of economic relations was not touched. That was 'preparatory' and 'experimental'
Marxist scholar and expert on the agrarian question in India.
Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 3-4, March-April 1997