Irawati Karve: Introduction and Points That Gained Karve՚s Consideration

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  • Born 1905
  • Founder of Anthropology Department at Poona (now Pune) University
  • Feminist poetry
  • “She was an Indologist in the classical Orientalist sense of looking to ancient Sanskrit texts for insights into contemporary practice.” - Cohn


The following are some of her books:

  • Kinship Organization in India (1953)
  • The Bhils of West Khandesh (1958)
  • Hindu Society: An Interpretation (1961; 1968)
  • Group Relations in Village Community (1963)
  • The Social Dynamics of a Growing Town and Its Surrounding Area (1965)
  • Maharashtra: Land and People (1968)
  • Yuganta: The End of an Epoch (1968) – the book based on the main characters of the Mahabharata, won the Sahitya Academy Award in 1968.
  • Paripurti (in Marathi) (1949)
  • Bhovara (in Marathi)

Points That Gained Karve՚s Consideration

  • Kinship in terms of Indian languages.
  • Behavior and attitudes in context of language
  • Rules of Descents and inheritance
  • Marriage and family patterns
  • Comparative study on Sanskritic north and Dravidian south
  • Social cultural study
  • The Kinship Organisation in India, 1953
  • Family structure in India

4 Cultural Zones According to Marriage Practices

  • Northern
  • Central
  • Southern
  • Eastern

Kinship in India can be seen in families and outside families.

The Northern Zone

  • Punjabi, Hindi, Sindhi, Assam, Bihari, Bengali, And Nepali.
  • Clan exogamy,
  • Caste endogamy
  • Taboos related to sexual relations between primary relations
  • Does not allow cross-cousin marriages.

Kinship and Central Zone

  • Languages- Rajasthani, Gujarati, Kathiawadi, Oriya, and Marathi
  • Related to Sanskrit

Southern Zone

  • Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala.
  • Dominated by both patrilocal and patrilineal system and matrilineal and matrilocal systems according to regions
  • Cross cousin marriage

Eastern Zone

  • Languages - Mon-Khmer and Mundari.
  • Communities -Khmer, Mon, and Chain.

3 Concepts or Patterns

  • Linguistic region
  • Institution of caste and
  • Family organisation

These concepts or patterns are important:

  • To understand cultural phenomena in Indian context
  • To understand social fabric of India
  • Kinship organization exhibits linguistic patterns, but deviations are present
  • E. g. Maharashtra
  • Language is Sanskrit but kinship organization is Dravidian or South Indian
  • Kinship system like cross cousin marriage

Group Relations in Village Community

  • Karve and Damle (1963)
  • Methodological experiment to study group relations in village community.
  • Quantitative and qualitative data
  • Studied 3 Maharashtra villages
  • How they operate?
  • Structuring of interpersonal and intergroup relations with reference to kinship, caste and locality.
  • How they were related?
  • Interdependence
  • Economic interdependence
  • Social relations
  • Traditional values transferred from one generation to another through caste system
  • According to her,
  • Caste is hereditary
  • Endogamy (within caste)
  • Restricted to linguistic region
  • Caste is an extended kin group
  • Caste members share specific occupations which is hereditary
  • Stratification in a geographic region is due to different rank in caste in a social order
  • Joint family system
  • How it functions and contributes to wider social structure
  • Agrarian relations based economy
  • Joint family in harmony of such economy


  • Joint residence, single kitchen, joint property, single head with rights
  • Members bound together
  • Autonomous unit own rules and traditions
  • Economic unit

Dynamics of Group Relations in Village

  • Book: Group Relations in Village Community 1963
  • Social life governed through joint families
  • Social stratification in village
  • SC has no role in economy
  • Difficult to uplift their status
  • Study in: Satara, Maharashtra
  • Economic change studied
  • Village and urban center relationship
  • Model of building of communities for interaction between each other


Q. 1. According to Irawati Karve, which one of the following linguistic regions come under the central kinship zone?

a) Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Orissa

b) Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat

c) Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat but not Maharashtra

d) Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh Andhra Pradesh but not Orissa

Ans: a)

Q. 2. Match List – I with List – II and select the correct answer from the codes given below:

Match List – I with List – II and Select the Correct Answer from the Codes Given Below
List – IList – II
a. Marriage and Family in Indiai. A. M. Shah
b. Kinship organisation in Indiaii. Robin Fox
c. Kinship and Marriageiii. K. M. Kapadia
d. Family in Indiaiv. Irawati Karve

a) i ii iv iii

b) iii iv ii i

c) i iii iv ii

d) ii iii iv i

Ans: b)



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