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Tradition in Sociology

Tradition refers to the beliefs and practices handed down from the past whereas traditionalism is the psychic attitudes that glorify past beliefs and practices indispensible for the society. Traditional society is characterized by the dominance of once traditions, organization based on kinship, ascriptive status and hierarchical social order. Edward Shills define tradition as a self-conscious deliberate affirmation of traditional norms in awareness of their traditional nature. The traditional norms derive their merit from a sacred origin. If traditional norms are believed to related to a sacred objects in the past these norms would be more opposed to alteration than if the norms were not grounded on sacred object. Norms transmitted traditionally are accepted because of their non observance involves sanctions they fill. The need to have rules in a given situation and thus performs a stabilizing function in the society. They have been transmitted from the past. Village is seen as a harbinger of traditions with a community based living and deeply shared assumptions bind together its members. However village is bound together by established power and a place for harmonization of social and gender differences. Another institution of tradition is a joint family a patriarchal system. It is a sign for a kinship system that goes beyond the orderly distribution of property and women. Sudhir Kakkar calls this a therapeutic model of social organization with relations of trust, respect and responsibility, nurturing and shading one at every step is an extended family utopia. It is wrong to assume that a traditional society has existed in its present form or that the recent past represents an unchanged situation. Traditional society is often is a product of change. The foreign powers and the growth of social and cultural movements deeply influenced the character of family life, religious beliefs and practice and social structure in India over many centuries. In elaborating the distinction and interaction between the great tradition of urban centers and little tradition of village communities anthropologists give attention to the diversity and the existence of alternatives in a uniform body of rules and values. Indian society has institutionalized different styles of life in different groups within and without caste system. Such division of labor makes it possible for status groups to be the bearers of traditions that differ from the dominant streams yet enable valued social functions to be performed. The capacity of old and new cultures and structures to exist without conflict and even with mutual adaptations is frequent. The syncretism of different elements has long been noted in the acceptance of religious usages and beliefs. The great tradition of the urban society in India has by no means pushed aside the little tradition of the village as they made contact. Mckim Marriott has defined the interaction as fusion and mutual penetration. The outcome of modernizing processes and traditional forms is often a mixture in which each derives a degree of support from the other rather than a clash of opposites. The role of traditional values in the form of segmental loyalties and principles of legitimate authority are of great importance in understanding the possibilities for the occurrence of unified and stable politics at a national level. The contemporary Indian political process utilizes caste, village and religious community as basic segmental groups through which the individual and the family are drawn into modern political institutions. Joseph Gusfield defined primary ties of kinship and clan are in process of fusion to centralized structures of national, participative politics. The setting of traditional and pre-existing conflicts in the context of new institution is crucial to understand Indian set up. Religion is no doubt tradition but tradition is not religion alone. It includes a number of other binding forces such as sharing of common attitudes, method and techniques a sense of belonging, a keen perception of the living reality and a burning passion for nation as an entity.

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