Sociology of Modern India

Students learn concepts and analytical tools to develop a sociological lens to approach social change and development.

This course will introduce students to the sociological approaches to the study of modern India through an examination of elements of India’s social structure, social institutions and its experience of social change, as well as the cultural politics of development in India. Students will be introduced to key sociological concepts/​ideas and theories in the study of Indian society including stratification, culture, power, legitimation and hegemony and theories of social change. They will engage in the analysis of social institutions (caste, tribe, gender, religion and region) and patterns of inequalities, including their intersections and transformations. 

Students will be invited to analyse how social changes play out at different analytical scales, from the individual to the global. These changes would include among other things, the dialectic between technology and the social as this has come to shape our social relations profoundly. Moments of tension in processes of change will be engaged with as we analyse issues such as communalism/​secularism, movements around caste, and identity politics.

The course will trace the emergence of modernity in India through an examination of key moments in colonial and postcolonial India. It will critically analyse the categories of modern’ and traditional’ and their role in shaping the meanings and course of development in India. A sociological approach will enable students to gain an understanding of development’ as a sociocultural process through the dynamics of key social determinants such as caste, tribe, gender, class, religion and region. They will also examine how meaning shapes social action by analysing how beliefs, attitudes, language and media, among other forms of cultural production, reproduce or unsettle configurations of power and authority. Through a focus on the diversity and differences that comprise India, students will gain an appreciation of the multiple meanings and imaginations of identity and community that animate the politics of development in India.