NCERT Solutions for Class 12 Sociology Chapter 8 Cultural Change

Q1. Write a critical essay on Sanskritisation.


Define Sanskritisation. Why was it criticized at different levels? (C.B.S.E. 2010)


Enumerate different levels at which Sanskritisation, as a concept has been criticized. (C.B.S.E. 2012)

Answer:- Sanskritisation is a process in which people want to improve their status by adopting the names and customs of high placed cultural groups. The reference model is generally economically better than the later group. In both, desire to be like the higher placed group occurs only when people become wealthier.


(i) Sanskritisation is criticised for exaggerating social mobility or the scope of lower castes to move up the social hierarchy. It leads to positional change of some individuals but not or any structural change. Inequality remains present although some individuals may be able to improve positions within the unequal social structure.

(ii) It has been said that the sanskritisation’s ideology accepts the upper caste as superior and lower caste as inferior. So the aspiration to imitate the upper caste is seen as natural and desirable.

(iii) This process justifies that inequality and exclusion exist in the society. It seems that the faith in pollution and purity of groups of people is justifiable. So to be able to look down on some groups, just as the upper castes looked down on the lower castes is a mark of privilege. This reflects an essentially undemocratic vision.

(iv) Sanskritisation is a process in which the rites and rituals of the upper caste are adopted. It leads to the practice of secluding girls and women, under which they have to adopt dowry practices instead of bride-price and have to practice caste discrimination against the other groups.

(v) This type of trend led to the erosion of key features of lower caste culture and society. For example, the very worth of labour because of which lower castes are degraded and rendered shameful. Identities based on the basis of work, crafts, ecology, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc. are regarded as useless in the industrial era. That’s why they remain excluded and discriminated even today.

Q2. Westernisation is often just about adoption of western attire and life style. Are there other aspects to being westernised? Or is that about modernisation? Discuss.

Answer:- M.N. Srinivas has defined westernisation and according to him, “Westernisation is the changes brought about in the Indian society and culture as a result of over 150 years of Britsh rule, the term subsuming changes occurring at different levels technology, institutions, ideology and values.”

There are many types of westernisation. The first type is the emergence of a western sub cultural pattern through a minority section of Indians, who first came in contact with the western culture. It includes the sub culture of Indian intellectuals, who not only adopted the western ideas and ways of living, but they even supported its expansion well.

So a small section of people adopted the western life styles or who were influenced by the western ideas. Except this, western cultural traits also spread like dress, food, changes in the habits and living and living style of people in general, new technology, etc. The middle class of India had adopted western ways of living. Westernisation does involve the imitation of external culture. It does not necessarily mean that people adopt modern values of equality and democracy.

Except the ways of life and thinking, Indian art and literature are also influenced by the west. Artists like Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Tagore, Chandu Menon and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya all were grappling with the colonial encounter.

In this way, we can see a number of different levels of cultural change, resulting from our colonial encounter with the west. Conflicts between generations are seen as the cultural conflicts resulting from westernisation. The meaning of westernisation cannot be modernisation, because modernisation can come in east. But the meaning of Westernisation is only the change which came due to the west.

Q3. Write short notes on:

  • Rites and Secularisation
  • Caste and Secularisation
  • Gender and Sanskritisation

Answer:- Rites and Secularisation: It would be very simple to term the complex combinations just as a mix of tradition and modernity as though tradition and modernity themselves are fixed entities or as though India has or had a set of traditions. We can say that both plurality and a tradition of argumentation have been defining features of traditions in India. They are infact constantly being redefined. We have already observed this with the 19th century social reformers. This process persists even today.

In the modern western society, the process of secularisation generally means a process of decline in the influence of religion. It has been said that modern societies become increasingly secular. Indicators of secularisation have been referred to as levels of involvement with religious organisations, the social and material influence of religious organisation and the degree to which people hold religious beliefs.

Caste and Secularisation: If we look carefully, then we find that caste and secularisation are contrary to each other. Religious ideas are given enough importance in the caste system. It has been said that human groups and occupations are divided by religion and religious scriptures and that’s why the caste system came into being.

Person with the occupation of religious activities, in caste system, i.e. Priest or Brahmins were given the highest status in society and lower castes were kept away from religious activities. In this way, we can say that religion and occupation were the two main basis of the caste system. But no importance is given to religion in secularism. Infact, religious rituals have been reduced to a great extent. That’s why people like to earn money instead of devoting time to religious activities.

Gender and Sanskritisation: The impact of Sanskritisation is many-sided. Its influence can be seen in language, literature, ideology, music, dance, drama, style of life and ritual. It is primarily a process that takes place within the Hindu space through Srinivas argued that it was visible even in sects and religious groups outside Hinduism.

Studies of different areas, however, show that it operated differently in different parts of the country. In those areas where a highly Sanskritised casts was dominant, the culture of the entire region underwent a certain amount of Sanskritisation.

Sanskritisation suggests a process whereby people want to improve their status through adoption of names and customs of culturally high-placed groups. The ‘reference model’ is usually financially better of. In both, the aspiration or desire to be like the higher placed group occurs only when people become wealthier.

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