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

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Continuous Hierarchies and Discrete Castes

Dipankar Gupta While empirical studies have disproved the traditional Indological-cum-sociotogical view of a strict and irreconcilable dichotomy between caste and modern social institutions or practices, the conceptual framework within which castes in India have been understood has received no major reformulation. It is for this reason probably that studies which demonstrate the malleability of the caste structure and beliefs remain at the level of case studies and have not been able to provide an alternative conspectus on the issue of castes at a general level The purpose of this paper is to suggest an alternative conceptual formulation on castes which can fully integrate many of the empirical findings. [This is the second part of the paper which is being published in three parts. The third part will appear next week.] II DISCRETE IDEOLOGIES: TALES OF ORIGIN IF ideologies separate the population and, surreptitiously at least, subvert or legitimise the rules of authority then caste ideologies should also contain these elements. Further as castes separate to maintain a distinct notion of their original heritage, ontology becomes an important component of all discrete caste ideologies.

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