Social Scientist. v 6, no. 61 (Aug 1977) p. 41.

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For or Against the Caste System?

Sheo Nath Singh Ram Maresh Prasad

SOCIAL SCIENTISTS have recently been showing a keen interest in intergroup relations delineated through every perspective of human behaviour. To the social psychologist in particular, prejudice is one of the key factors in intergroup links, as what goes on in people's minds seldom escapes social expression. Members of one caste generally take a biased view of those belonging to another. Such a perception dominated by distrust and hostility marks the beginning of intercaste tension. Personality factors combined with social traits generate a variety of responses to different caste groups and to the system in general.

In the Indian social matrix each caste has developed its unique belief system1 and erected barriers all around. Differences are noticeable in the very attitude towards the caste system which is associated closely with distribution of socio-economic facilities. This survey studied these differences, by caste origin of the respondents.

To get a clear picture of the attitudinal variations, urban and rural college students of Magadh University (Bihar) were tested on the Indian Caste Prejudice Scale (ICPS) developed by the authors.2 This scale measures prejudice in four dimensions: Political, Social, and Economic Gain (PSEG); Marriage and Interpersonal Relations (MIR);

Personal Qualities (PQJ; Education, Employment and Inhabitation (EEI). The overall picture is determined by the summation of the scores on these four.

In order to study prejudice stemming from caste differences, the scores of urban and rural subjects are evaluated separately. Ms, SDs and SEms are calculated for each group. The results and critical ratios (CRs) are found in tables I to IV. Significant differences as well as the trend of mean scores are included in this report.


As shown in table II, out of 105 critical ratios in the urban sample, 60 (57.14 per cent) emerged significant (47 at <.01 and 13 at <.05 levels), bearing out that caste affiliation is at the root of the individual's bias. Table I indicates that on the whole. Brahmins show greater

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