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The Indian Context of Rural Sociology

In India the importance of rural sociology gained recognition after independence. The agrarian context occupies special status both in the social scientific literature on India and in the literature on agrarian societies in general.

However unlike studies on caste, kinship, village community, gender, study of agrarian relations did not occupy a central position in Indian sociology. The first systematic study of rural India was done by D.N Majumdar followed by N.K Bose, S.C Dubey,M.N Shrinivas.However it was with the publication of Andre`Be`teille's Studies in Agrarian Social Structure in 1974 that agrarian sociology gained professional respectability within the two disciplines.

Peasant studies in a way arrived in India with village studies. The collection of essays, Village India, edited by Marriot with its emphasis on little communities and great communities was brought out under the direct supervision of Robert Redfield. By defining little communities not in relation to land but through other social institutions such as kinship, religion and the social organization of caste there was a shift away from looking at the rural population in relation to agriculture and land. Caste hierarchy came to be defined in terms of ritual or social interaction over institutions of commensality and marriage.

According to Nelson up to the comparatively recent times the story of man is largely the story of rural man. So rural society is the basic foundation of human life, the keystone of the developmental process and the basic unit of social structure. Villages have been in existence since time immemorial unlike cities which are of more recent origin. In the Indian context rural sociology is of greater significance of the following reasons.

According to S.C Dubey from time immemorial village has been a basic and important unit in the organization of Indian social life. Unique nature of transformation of Indian society where elements of traditional and modern cultures have been juxtaposed. For rural development and solution of rural problems according to A.R Desai this systematic study of rural organization of its structure; function and evolution has not only become necessary but also urgent after the advent of independence. Growing influence of industrialization and urbanization. Village as the basic unit of study. Scientific study of village community is a prerequisite for democratic decentralization.

In modern India, the need of rural sociology is very urgent and it is progressive social science gaining importance.