ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Andre BeteilleSubscribe to Andre Beteille

Equality and Universality

The distinction between equality and universality is important theoretically as well as in matters of policy. With the example of education, the author shows the limits to which universality can be taken and beyond which inequalities are bound to come into play. Sometimes it serves the public interest or at least the interest of the most disadvantaged sections better if inequalities are allowed to increase instead of being artificially reduced. A strongly competitive system of higher education may be to the general social advantage rather than one that discourages competition on the ground that it encourages inequalities.

Economics and Sociology

Despite important differences in aims and method, which are perhaps more clear now than they were 50 years ago, economics and sociology have a great deal to contribute to each other. Rather than on what sociology has contributed or can contribute to economics, this paper dwells on the contribution of economics to the development of sociology.

M N Srinivas: (November 16, 1916 - November 30, 1999)

M N Srinivas maintained an unshakable belief in the unique significance of sociology for understanding the world in which we live. Anthropology provided a method, the method of intensive fieldwork, but the important thing was to understand events and activities in the broader social perspective of structure and change. Srinivas was deeply interested in change, although he believed, quite rightly, that the sociologist would not be able to make much of change if he let go of the idea of social structure.

Citizenship, State and Civil Society

A great deal of the recent enthusiasm for civil society in this country has been, unfortunately, driven by a negative, if not a hostile, attitude towards the state, and, indeed, towards all public institutions. Nothing can be more destructive of civil society than the idea that the best way to create and invigorate civil society is to empower the people at the expense of the state. And just as state and civil society are complementary, so are state and citizen. Furthermore, civil society cannot amount to very much where citizenship is absent or weakly developed.


Empowerment through the expansion of the civil, political and social rights of citizenship is a laborious and unexciting process. Empowerment through the class struggle was a different story altogether; but that story has now been played out and it offers hardly any new prospect. There is no doubt the prospect of empowerment through caste war; but that is something that will appeal only to those who have put their minds to sleep. So in the end, the Indian way of securing empowerment for the unempowered seems to be by the safe way of providing, as extensively as possible, quotas on the basis of community, caste and gender. But can the belief that quotas, no matter how extensive, can by themselves bring about a radical or even a perceptible redistribution of power be anything more than wishful thinking?

Obituary : Louis Dumont (1911-98)

Already by the 1960s Louis Dumont had formulated an ambitious plan for a lifetime of unremitting intellectual effort. The aim was to contrast on the plane of values - rather than of social morphology or social action - societies based on holism and hierarchy with those based on individualism and equality, in short, traditional India and the west.

Science and Tradition- A Sociological Perspective

A Sociological Perspective Andre Beteille If the traditions of science are to be revitalised in India, the institutions of teaching and research in the sciences have to be renovated. There is no simple recipe for that But it is doubtful that the search for glorious antecedents in India's ancient or medieval past will provide any concrete or usable results.

Sociology and Common Sense

Andre Beteille Besides the empirical grounding in careful observation and description of facts, sociology as a discipline is characterised by its rigorous search for interconnections among different domains of society and its systematic use of comparisons. These preoccupations make sociology anti-utopian in its claims and anti-fatalistic in its orientation, and distinguish its 'generalised' knowledge from localised commonsensical knowledge.

OBITUARY-Shyama Charan Dube (1922-96)

Shyama Charan Dube (1922-96) Andre Beteille S C Dube was among those Indian social scientists who came into their own with the coming of independence. He did not see himself as a detached scholar. Things were on the move in India and Dube did not want his tribe, the professional social scientists, to be left behind.

Universities as Institutions

Universities as Institutions Andre Beteille An institution is not just a social arrangement with a certain form and function; to survive it must also have a certain legitimacy and meaning for its members such that they are willing to put its demands above their individual interests* at least some of the time. This paper explores the question of whether, by this definition, the University of Delhi or any university or college in India, can be called a functioning institution. Practically every university has entered the process of stagnation and decay, not least because of the total politicisation of academic life and toss of purpose in an institution whose basic aim is the pursuit of science and scholarship.


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