Andre Beteille: Other Books, Features of Caste System and Criticism

Doorsteptutor material for UGC is prepared by world's top subject experts: Get detailed illustrated notes covering entire syllabus: point-by-point for high retention.

  • Born on 30 September 1934.

  • Student of Srinivas

  • Studied caste in South India

  • Interactional approach

  • Book: Caste, Class and Power: Changing Patterns of Stratification in a Tanjore Village, 1965

  • Studied caste beyond the perspective of superiority, Sanskritic or Brahminic

  • Considered caste as an objective reality

  • Focused on empirical perspective to study caste that contrasts from cultural ideal type.

  • He studied the field data of Sripuram village of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu.

  • Ethnographic study.

Other Books

  • Inequalities among Men, 1977

  • Social and Cultural Reproduction of Caste

  • Kinship and Occupation in India, 1991

  • The Backward Classes in Contemporary India, 1992

  • Agrarian Social Relations

  • Harmonic and Disharmonic Social System

  • Perspective not unidimensional like Ghurye or Dumont who focused on Indology or ritual aspect

  • Inspired by Weber : Trinitarian approach

  • Kinship, class, and power to be studied along caste

  • Why?

  • To include structural aspect of caste – economy and politics

Other Books

Other Books

Loading image

Suggested Study on relationship between:

  • land-owning and landless class

  • Upper and lower class

  • Jajman and Kameen

On the basis of structural perspective and stratification as universal phenomenon.


  • Open group

  • De facto

  • No legal or religious sanction

  • Antagonistic


  • Closed group

  • Ideas

  • Complex

  • Categorized

  • Informal power

In his study of Tanjore, he found

3 major caste groups:

  • Brahmins

  • Non-Brahmins

  • Adi-Dravidians (depressed classes)

There is a huge gap between Brahmins and Dravidians

  • Gap of cultural relational and symbolic

  • Disharmonic relationship between the two

  • Two extremes of the hierarchy

  • Analyzed the rise of non-Brahmins by getting control of village land, local politics etc. and getting a secular sphere of the caste hierarchy

  • Studied the emergence and consolidation of dominant caste apart from Brahmins.

  • Brahmins themselves are segmented and do not follow a designated pattern of way of living.

  • Iyengar Brahmins considered themselves as the purest.

  • Role of education and white-collar jobs.

  • Believed that caste and poverty are the tools of social inequality

He was influenced by Marx during his study of caste:

  • Different dimensions of exploiting people and different sources of inequality like unequal distribution of land that gives rise to class structure

  • unequal access to power

  • unequal access to status on the basis of identity.

Features of Caste System

  • No facts but ideas

  • Ideas can be derived from ancient literature rules of the game based

  • Complementary function by different castes

  • Non-antagonistic relationship


  • Narrow empiricism

  • Only studied one village of South India


  • Social dynamics

  • Caste not the sole basis of occupation

  • Structural shifts of power

  • Integration of villages with wider society – systemic view

  • Emergence of plural values like materialism over morality

  • Reflexive and broad understanding of caste

  • Role of kinship in determining occupation

  • His perspective Understands society as a whole

  • India has provided hierarchy and European society has produced the structure.


Q.1. (Assertion): According to Beteille, Ritual status is the sole determinant of structural relation system.

(Reason) : Class and economy do not have a significant role in hierarchy.

(a) Both, A and R, are true and R is the correct explanation of A

(b) Both, A and R, are false and R is not the correct explanation of A

(c) If A is true but R is false

(d) If A is false but R is true

Ans: b

Q.2. The Weberian model of social stratification has been used in the study of caste by

(A) S.C. Dube

(B) M.N. Srinivas

(C) T.N. Madan

(D) Andre Beteille

Answer: (D)