Civilizational Perspective takes a look at society from historical point of view. It explores the complexity of cultural and social system. It follows the medieval and ancient classical texts, official records, village caste networks etc. This perspective examines the continuity and changes in the social structure from the historical perspective. NK Bose followed an inductive approach and was a functionalist. In his work Nature of Culture he focuses on adaptive capacity of culture. He presented his work having three approaches of ideologist, ethnographer and social historian. In his book Structure of Hindu Society he gives his view of civilizational perspective. The book is divided into three parts. Bose carried out ethnographic studies of several tribal groups in India. According to him tribal communities in India share different relationship with the larger society and they are diverse in themselves. He uses two parameters to differentiate different tribal communities from each other. These are technological development and extent of geographical and social isolation. His anthropological work among tribes of Orissa and Chota Nagpur like Juangs believes that these are untouched by Brahmanical influence. These tribes are regarded as Non-Aryan falling broadly within Hindu community. He also pays attention to more advanced tribes like Oraon and Mundas.
They both had participated in the social movements in 19thcentury. Oraon moved towards a newly constructed ideal past borrowed from Sanskritic Hindu traditions. Bose had used various indological sources such as epics Ramayana, Smritisetc. to identify the Varna system correlating the position of the community in the system to their functions and origins. He also gives details of village life, talkingabout theself-sufficiency of villages. Bose also talked about the influence of other religion on Hindu social organization.Muslim rule brought new crafts that helped in redefining the economic organization of the villages on a small level. He quotes two examples of attempt to challenge the Hindu social organization basic tenets -Buddhism in ancient and Chaitanya's bhakti movement in medieval period. They did affect the social organization but failed to bring fundamental changes in existing social order. They did little to alter division of labor. Bose examines the impact of British rule in Hindu social order. He studies how the economic impact began to loosen and change the social structure of Hindu society. For this he takes the example of Sinhas of Rajpur who took advantage of their favorable position as traders to progress from one occupational sphere to another within a short span of time. They went from being traders to landowners, factory owners and other professionals. Bose believed in economic forces as major factor is bringing both change and continuity.
He classified tribes of India and believed that the easiest way to do it was to distinguish by mode of livelihood. It is an easier way to differentiate between tribes and non-tribes of Hindu social system. He believed that Hindu social organization was more affected by British than Muslims as the former brought new technology and economic system with them. Tribes found pressure to come out of isolation and join the mainstream social organization due to economic circumstances. Bose rejected the idea of divine origin of caste as well as the idea of purity and pollution. He explained the persistence of caste system through ages as being due to economic and cultural security it provided. But mainly it was guided by cultural tolerance. He notes that there is change from non-competitive towards competitive system. Bose also talked about regulating purpose of caste system. He initiated several studies into caste associations across India. The first major field study was done among Juangs of Odisha.This led to the belief that tribal following primitive means and ways of cultivation were being pushed into agriculture and craft based Hindu social organization. He highlighted the causes of tribal movements across India, their economic organization and how they were being observed into Hindu society. In his book Tribal Life in India he pointed out how little difference is there between tribal, peasants and artisans. Bose work on tribes and caste led to understanding of unity of Indian culture. He focused on how culture binds various zones of India into single entity.