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Role Of Caste In Rural Society

Caste stands as a pivot of rural social structure. It acts as the most powerful determinant of individual behavior and social order in rural unity. Caste is the determinant of individual status and role. It determines the status of the individual as soon as he takes birth.

Hutton says that the system provides him from birth a fixed social milieu from which neither wealth nor property, success nor disaster can remove him unless of course he so violates standards of behavior lay down by the caste. Caste also guides the behavior of an individual in his conduct, his association and interaction. It has helped maintain the continuity of social order by preserving its pattern of culture and traditions. It plays a vital role in the process of socialization by teaching individuals the culture and traditions, values and norms of their society. It unifies society in a chain by assigning different places and positions to different groups. It works as the basis of division of labor in society which keeps society away from tensions and conflicts arising out of competition for occupation, power and prestige. Caste also has a deep influence in the religious lives of rural people. The notion of karma and dharma kept social and economic system intact. Performance of rituals, worshipping of different kinds of Gods and Goddesses and celebration of festivals are determined by the caste system.

There are some negative aspects according to P.N Bose the caste system has acted essentially to impose that attitude of mind, needed to raise men from savagery but to stop them half way on progress. Caste acts as a barrier to modernization. Modernization essentially needs a change in outlook and mentality along with socio-economic development. It has hindered development as it imposes strict rules regarding occupation of different people. The society characterized by the caste system is a closed one permitting very little or no social mobility. It acts as a perpetuating force of social inequality and untouchability.It is based on inequality of status and opportunities which often creates conflict and tension in the society.