NCERT Solutions for Class 12 Sociology Chapter 3 Social Institutions: Continuity and Change

Q1. What is the role of the ideas of separation and hierarchy in the caste system?

Answer:- If we look carefully at the caste system, then we would come to know that the ideas of separation and hierarchy play a great role in the caste system. All the main features of caste system will be of no importance in the absence of these two ideas. Their description is given below:

(i) Separation. It is one of the main features of caste system that every caste is completely separated from the others. This separation had an advantage that there was no problem of mixing of different castes with each other. Every caste had certain rules regarding eating habits, marriage, keeping social relations, occupations etc. and that’s why they were very much separated from each other. On the other hand, these different and separated castes had no individual existence. They can only exist in relations to a larger whole, the totality of society consisting of all castes.

(ii) Hierarchy. There is another feature of caste system that is based on the hierarchical order. Meaning of hierarchy is that every caste had its specific position in this ladder-like arrangement. There were certain differences between all the castes and these differences were based on the concept of ‘purity and pollution’. Castes that were considered ritually pure had high status while those considered less pure or impure had low status. Basically in modem societies, all these classes have higher status which have power in their hands.

Q2. What are some of the rules that the caste system imposes? (C.B.S.E. 2013)
Explain the common features of the caste system as it existed in the past. (C.B.S.E. 2010)

Answer:- There are certain commonly cited features of caste system and these are given below:

(i) Membership of caste is based upon birth, which means a child is born into the caste of his parents. It is not a matter of choice. No one can even change one’s caste, leave it or choose not to join it. Yet, there are certain examples where a person may be expelled from his caste.

(ii) Every caste had certain rules regarding food and food sharing. It is prescribed that what kinds of food may or may not be eaten and who one may share food with is also specified.

(iii) Caste system had strict rules regarding marriage for its members. Caste groups are endogamous which means one has to marry within one’s caste.

(iv) Castes are divided into sub-divisions which means all the castes are divided into sub-castes and many a times sub-castes may also have further sub-castes. This is known as segmental organisation.

(v) Caste involved a system having many castes arranged in a hierarchy of rank and status. Practically, every person has a particular caste and every caste has a particular place in the hierarchy of all castes. Position of middle castes varies from region to region, but position of upper and lower castes remains the same.

(vi) All the castes have their fixed occupations. Person born into any particular caste, had to practise the occupation associated with that caste. It means that occupations were hereditary, and passed on from one generation to another. Members of other castes cannot join the occupation of any other caste. The occupations are confined only to a particular caste.

Q3. What changes did colonialism bring about in the caste system? (C.B.S.E. 2011, 2013)
Mention any two changes that caste underwent during the colonial rule. (C.B.S.E. 2010)
The institution of caste underwent major changes from colonial times to the present day. Explain. (C.B.S.E. 2012)

Answer:- Caste system worked with full strength in Indian society till the arrival of the British or even after sometime of establishment of the British empire. But once the British strengthened their position in India, they started to bring certain changes in Indian society and caste system was greatly affected by this. In this way colonisation brought the following changes in the caste system.

(i) Changes came due to western education. The British started establishing western education system in India by which all the children were given same and equal education without any discrimination. With western education, people came to know about their rights which led to the decline of caste system. Education was made open for women and lower castes because of which the main feature of caste system, of not giving education to them, came to an end.

(ii) Doing surveys. The colonial rulers brought many changes in India and all these changes were brought down deliberately. Firstly, they tried to understand the complex system of castes so that adminstration could be run smoothly. That is why they carried out detailed surveys about customs and traditions of different castes and tribes. Reports were made and on the basis of these reports, they started to bring changes in society. It again led to changes in caste system.

(iii) Social welfare. Modern educated Indians started to bring reforms in Indian society and their main objective was to eliminate the evils from the society. All the social reformers took certain steps against caste system. Welfare works were done for lower castes, inter-caste marriages were encouraged, widow marriage and elimination of child marriage got legal sanction. It reduced the complexity of caste system.

(iv) Reduction of traditional occupations. Hundreds of new occupations came to India with the advent of colonialism. Industries were opened, schools, colleges were started, new offices were opened with which people started to get occupations according to their wish and ability. With this, traditional occupations started to come to an end with which caste system began to change.

(v) Welfare of lower castes. Welfare works of lower castes started towards the end of colonial time. Administration took special interest in it. In 1935, Indian Government Act was passed which gave legal sanction to certain scheduled castes and tribes. From here, the words like scheduled castes and scheduled tribes came into being. Castes with lowest status in caste hierarchy were included in scheduled castes and many works were done for their welfare.

In this way, many changes came in caste system during the colonial period. We cannot deny the fact that basic and fundamental changes came in caste system during this time.

Q4. In what sense has caste become relatively ‘invisible’ for the urban upper castes?

Answer:- One of the most important but paradoxical changes came in caste system in post independence period. It seems to become invisible for the upper urban castes, urban middle and upper classes. These groups were benefited the most from the developmental policies of post colonial era, importance of caste declined for them because it had done its job very well. Their caste status was crucial in ensuring that they had enough economic and educational resources to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by quick development.

Particulary, the upper caste elites were able to benefit from subsidised public education, especially professional education in science, medicine, technology and management. They also took advantage of expansion of state sector jobs in early decades after Independence. In this starting period, they lead the whole society and ensured that they did not face any serious competition.

As their privileged status got consoldiated in second and third generations, these groups started to believe that their progress had no relation with their caste. Certainly for third generations of these groups, their economic and educational capital alone is quite sufficient to ensure that they will continue to get the best in terms of life chances. For them, it seems that caste has no importance in their public life, it being limited to the personal sphere of marriage, kinship or religious practice.

Q5. How have tribes been classified in India? (C.B.S.E. 2013)
“Tribes have been classified according to their permanent and acquired traits”. Explain. (C.B.S.E. 2015)

Answer:- Tribes have been classified according to their permanent and acquired traits. Both of these traits are given below:

(i) Permanent traits. Tribal population in India is widespread, but they are also concentrated in certain regions. Around 85% of the tribal population lives in middle India, most of them stretched from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the West to West Bengal and Odisha in the East with Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and in few parts of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Around 11% people live in the North Eastern states and rest of remaining 3% live in rest of India. Assam having concentration of more than 30% tribal people and states like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland have more than 60% and upto 95% of tribal population. Tribal population is very small in rest of the country.

(a) In terms of Language. Tribes can be classified in four categories in terms of language. Two of them are ‘Indo-Aryan’ and ‘Dravidians’, which are shared by the rest of Indian population as well, and tribes account for only about 1% of the former and around 3% of the latter. Two other language groups are ‘Austric’ and ‘Tibeto-Burman’ and these are primarily spoken by tribal people. They account for all of the first and over 8% of the second group i.e. Tibeto-Burman.

(b) In Physical-Racial terms. Tribes are classified under the Negrito, Australoid, Mongoloid, Dravidian and Aryan categories from physical-racial terms. The last two i.e. Dravidian and Aryans are again shared with rest of the Indian population.

(c) In terms of size. Tribes vary a great deal in terms of size. They are ranging from around seven million to some Andemanese islanders and number less than a hundred persons. Some Indian tribes have atleast a million population and these are Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, Oraons, Minas, Bodos and Mundas. Around 8.2% of total Indian population belongs to tribal people.

(ii) Acquired Characteristics. In this, two main criteria are there and these are mode of livelhood and extent of incorporation into Hindu society or a combination of both. On the basis of livelihood, tribes could be categorised into fishermen, food gatherers and hunters, shifting cultivators, peasants and plantation and industrial workers. But the dominant classification is the degree of assimilation into Hindu society.

Assimilation can be seen from either the point of view of tribes or from the point of the dominant Hindu mainstream. From tribes’ point of view, apart from the extent of assimilation, attitude towards Hindu society is also a major criterion, with differentiation between tribes that are positively inclined towards Hinduism and those who resist it. From the point of view of mainstream tribes may be viewed in terms of the status accorded to them is Hindu society, ranging from the high social status given to some to the generally low status accorded to most of them.

Q6. What evidence would you offer against the view that ‘tribes are primitive communities living isolated lives untouched by civilisation’?

Answer:- Some scholars are of the view that there is no coherent basis for treating these tribes as pristine which means original or pure societies which are uncontaminated by civilisation. They propose that instead the tribes should really be seen as secondary phenomena arising out of the exploitative and colonialist contact between pre-existing states and non-state groups like the tribals. This contact itself creates an ideology of tribalism. The tribal groups begin to define themselves as tribals in order to differentiate themselves from the newly encountered others.

Q7. What are the factors behind the assertion of tribal identities today?
Explain the main factors influencing the formation of tribal identity today. (C.B.S.E. 2012)
What are the factors behind the assertion of tribal identities today? (C.B.S.E. 2013, 2017(D))

Answer:- These days the request of maintaining the concept of tribal identity is increasing day-by-day. One of its reasons may be the gradual emergence of an educated middle class among tribal communities. Most visible in the North-eastern states, this is now a segment beginning to be seen in the rest of the country as well, particularly among members of the larger tribal communities. In conjunction with policies of reservation, education is creating an urbanised professional class. As tribal societies get more differentiated i.e. develop class and other divisions within themselves, different bases are growing for the assertion of tribal indentity.

Q8. What are some of the different forms that the family can take?
Distinguish between a nuclear and extended family. (C.B.S.E. 2012)

Answer:- If we look carefully towards modern society then mainly two types of families exist and these are:

(i) Nuclear Family. The basic form of family is Nuclear family. Husband, wife and their unmarried children live in nuclear family. When children get married then they again establish their own nuclear family. Yet the number of members increases but basically family remains nuclear. Husband-wife both have equal status and have equal rights in this type of family. Advice of wife and children is being taken before reaching any decision.

(ii) Joint Family. Inspite of Urbanisation, we still see this type of family in urban areas. Members of more than two generations live under one roof. Eldest member of the family has complete control over others. Thus, he/she is the head of the family.

Q9. In what ways can changes in social structure lead to changes in the family structure?
In what ways does change in social structure lead to changes in the family structure? (C.B.S.E. 2017 (O.D.))

Answer:- It is certain that changes in social structure lead to the great changes in family structure. Sometimes, these changes comes suddenly and sometimes it come very slowly. For example, Britishers brought changes in administrative system in India. They spread western education, industries were developed which led to advent of thousands of new occupations. People left their joint families in rural areas in search of occupation. They began to live in cities and made their own nuclear families. In this way colonialism led to change in social structure and it led to change in family structure.

Q10. Explain the differences between Matriliny and Matriarchy.

Answer:- Studies have shown that different types of families are found in different societies. From the point of view of residence, some societies are matrilocal and some are patrilocal. In matrilocal family, the newly married couple lives with the woman’s parents whereas in patrilocal family, the couple stays with the man’s parents.

From the point of view of inheritance, in matrilineal society, property passes on from the mother to daughter and in patrilineal society, property passes on from father to son. In patriarchal family, the men exercise authority and dominance and in matriarchal family, women play a similar dominant role. But matriarchy unlike patriarchy has been a theoretical instead of an empirical concept.

No historical or anthropological evidence of matriarchy has been found where women exercise dominance. But, there do exist matrilineal societies where women inherit property from their mothers but do not exercise control over it, nor are they decision makers in public affairs.

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 Sociology: Indian Society

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 Sociology: Social Change and Development in India

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