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Caste Associations

Caste is often a basis for new groups even when it does not define their membership. The Rudolphs (1960) commented on the form and functions of caste associations in contemporary India. Caste associations are formal organizations which often encompass several endogamous castes or jatis of similar name, occupation and rank. They provide a mechanism for political or economic activity and status enhancement and comprise an interest group for people who in their individual families and castes might be too few, too poor or too powerless to achieve their ends.

Generally such associations have a governing body operating under a constitution and they publish newspapers advocating the cause and reporting the activities of the association and its members, hold meetings, negotiate internecine disputes, represent the association in its relations with outside agencies, endorse political candidates and the like. Caste associations are important agencies for the mobilization and coordination of collective effort to achieve the goals of their members.