FRANCOIS HOUTART GENEV1EVE LEMERCINIER
Socio-Religious Movements inKerala:
A Reaction to the Capitalist Mode of Production
THE social movements of the various castes and communities of Kerala which began at the end of the 19th century, represent an important point of transition in the destructuration of the former system. We shall study in succession the general character of these movements, the organization and ideology of each movement, and finally the way in which they were linked with the emergence of new social relations as a result of the introduction of capitalist relations of production.
Caste as the Basis of Social Relations
The caste system had become the dominant element in the social formation of Kerala, since it was in correspondence with the relations of production. The ownership of the means of production and their use, depended on caste-belonging. The main lines of the division of labour were also defined by the caste system, although the latter actually had its origin either in the occupations of the pre-existing clans or in the functional requirements of new demands. In turn the relative positions of the various castes in the sphere of production reinforced the heirarchical social structure. ^
This heirarchical structure had been grafted onto a racial clement defined in terms of the belonging — or at least the supposed belonging— to Aryan, Dravidian or pre-Dravidian groups as the case might be. The