Social Scientist. v 3, no. 35 (June 1975) p. 47.

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Marxism and Indian Sociology

THERE appears to be a general presumption among Indian sociologists that Marxism and sociology are two different and mutually irreconcilable modes of looking at society. This note examines the various reasons to which this notion is supposedly attributed in Indian sociological circles. In this endeavour it seems relevant to take up an authoritative work as a starting point. There is perhaps no other as representative as And re Bete-ille's recent exposition on the subject.1

Beteille presupposes a real and rigid distinction between Marxists and sociologists, as if they belong to two separate races. The distinction, though convenient, is not so sharp and clear in the Indian context. There are many intellectuals who identify themselves with both Marxism and sociology. The explication of criteria for identifying who is a Marxist and who is a sociologist should precede any such debate if it is to avoid confusion. Lacking this, I assume the utility of such analytical distinction as maintained by Beteille but only at the hypothetical level.

Beteille opens his essay by expressing disgust over the reaction faced by the bourgeois academic sociologist from the practising Marxist when ^he former turns to the study of "such subjects as social organization of production, the agrarian class structure or peasant movements and associations".8

He presumes that "there (is) in India, as elsewhere.,.a vast seedbed of mutual hostility and suspicion between Marxists and sociologists"8. But he does not iriake any concrete exposition of the mode and nature of manifestation of this antipathy except stating that "Marxists are quite willing to tolerate sociology as long as it confines itself to the problems of superstructure99.4

It seems that Beteille^ views are based on the criticisms levelled by Indian Marxist intellectuals against sociology for its particular focus on the society and its exploitation by vested class interests. As is well known, Marxism aims at providing a scientific study of society from a class angte. With the experience of European exploitation of Asian and African colonies and the role of social anthropologists therein, such criticisms fall within the realm of social criticism which can be employed to give a conscious

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