Topics: Sociology, Social class, Anthropology Pages: 12 (4826 words) Published: October 22, 2013
discuss the attributional and interactional approches to caste.

caste” has been widely used to describe ranked groups within rigid systems of social stratification and especially those which constitute the society of Hindu India. 

the attributional approach to caste deals with its inherent qualities and features that identifies the whole caste system. hence every caste share these attributes as a part of their identity. attributional approach also tells us about the major features of the cates system and thus provides a analytical view relative to other forms of social stratification. as we know that caste system maintain hirarchiacal order that is each caste is seperated from the other in terms of its ranking . this ranking was formed as a result of attributes of a caste. these attributes are :- 1. caste membership is acquired by birth hence the rank relative to other caste is determined at birth . 2. the ranking is done in terms of relations of superiority or inferiority. 3. each hirarchy or say each caste has its own restrictions and norms that the members are suppose to be strictly abide by . these restrictions gave permission to its members only to interact with particular grous of people. this inculed its dress, speech, customs, ritual, food. 4. the idea of purity and pollution wherein each caste avoid contaminationfrom polluting objects such as occupations dealing with skin, death bodies or dirt as of the lowest caste. this worked as an element of separation of the caste. 5. every caste has a traditional occupation based on the system of purtiy and pollution. the higher caste had cleaner occupations than the lower caste . 6. rules of marriage is another important attribute of caste. one could marry within ones caste only. 7. food or commensality also determined the separation from one caste to another. pakka food (food cooked in oil) is accepted from other castes whereas kachcha food ( uncooked food or food cooked in water) is accepted only within the caste 8. ownership of land or property supported the hierarchial aspect of a caste to considerable extend. the lowest caste where usually the landless caste. 9. a dominant caste also enjoyed greater political power over other castes.

by preserving these above attributes a caste maintained its identiy which it sought to retain over generations.

interactional approach speaks more significantly about the ranking of the caste in a local or practical context. nevertheless interactional approach includes attributes to explain the interactional processess. so both interactional and attributional are co related and one cannot be independantly taken into account without the other.

the main features of this approach is rituals, commensality, secular hierarchy, power dimention. rituals determine the hierarchy in the sense that the higher caste such as brahmins get the priviledge to perform most important and and exclusive rituals. they simultaneiously receive all services from the other cates. commensality of eating, drinking and smoking also governs the hierarchy system. those at the top of the hierachiacal order will ensure that only a caste or type of food and water vessel which will not pollute them is accepted or used by them.

on the other hand economic and politcal benefit further favors the rankings. the highter caste thus have greater economic capacity alongwith purity and rituals. these strengths results to greater political power. Jajmani system of economic interaction is a ritual expression rather than an economic arrangemnt.

both interactional and attributional approaches have its own drawbacks but nonttheless these contexts of explaining castes is undoubtedly an advance over the early religious and sociological explanations of caste system.

An agragrian social structure as we know is a society in which economy prevails over agriculture or cultivation of land and animal...
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