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

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  • 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

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)