Subaltern Perspective Sociology YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Subaltern Perspective

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  • “Those who were not among the elite, specifically, as the” demographic difference between the total Indian population “and the dominant indigenous and foreign elite.” – Guha
  • “The subaltern classes, by definition, are not unified and cannot unite until they are able to become a ‘State’ ,” - Gramsci
  • ″ The word ‘subaltern’ as given in the Oxford Dictionary stands for the general attribute of subordination, which is expressed in terms of a caste, class, age, gender, office or any other way. It includes the characteristics of defiance and submission.
  • “Populist discourse refers primarily to ‘people’ or masses (Laclau, 1979) . The significance of ideology needs not be viewed merely in terms of dialectical tension between the people and the classes where conflicting situations provide meaning.”
  • ‘The general attribute of subordination in South Asian society whether this is expressed in terms of class, caste, age, gender and office or in any other way’ .


  • Coined by Antonio Gramsci
  • Those excluded from State power
  • Fight of himself with the society
  • Conveys ‘view from below’ - understanding from the bottom of society or the flow of knowledge from below
  • Excluded and marginalized — on the basis not just of class, but also of caste, gender
  • Who have been excluded, marginalized or silenced in world politics.


  • Issues of social existence and social forces.
  • Socially-induced consciousness
  • ‘Masses’ as against the elite politics
  • Reconstructing the other history
  • The history of people՚s politics

Subaltern in India

  • A new school in the field of Indian history-writing.
  • The important proponents of this perspective in India are:
  • Ranajit Guha
  • David Hardiman
  • B. R. Ambedkar,
  • Kapil Kumar, etc.
  • Peasants and tribal were unorganized classes
  • From ‘object’ of history to makers of their own history by organizing consciousness of their own.
  • Ranajit Guha - Indian historian
  • Established the Subaltern Studies project
  • study tribal peasant movement
  • To incorporate the voices of the weak
  • artisans, poor peasants, landless labour
  • Resistance against rich peasants, power elites, etc.

Post Colonialism

  • Within post colonialism: subaltern means -
  • Populations outside of the hegemonic power structure of the colony
  • Or outside colonial homeland
  • Based on their social, political or geographical features.


Q. 1. Which one of the following statements correctly identify ‘subaltern perspective’ ?

(A) An approach to study society from Elite՚s point of view.

(B) Describe changes in society of the developed countries.

(C) Approach history from below, focused more on what happens among masses at the base level of society

(D) An approach to study the postmodern societies

Answer: (C)

Q. 2. Which of the following best describes the ‘subaltern’ in post-colonialism?

a) Subaltern refers to those who are located geographically within the southern hemisphere.

b) The subaltern is a term applied to a specific group of scholars from the global south.

c) The subaltern refers to populations that are marginalized or outside of the hegemonic power structure.

d) The subaltern refers to the subcontinent of India.

Answer: c

#Theoretical Perspectives

#Subaltern Perspective



0: 00 Sub-altern Perspective

0: 07 Definitions of Sub-altern Perspective

0: 40 Introduction of Sub-altern Perspective

3: 24 Emergence

5: 30 Subaltern in India

8: 07 Post colonialism

8: 37 MCQ about Sub-altern Perspective

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