Caste is a contested terrain in India’s society and polity. This book explores contemporary realities of caste in rural and urban India. It examines questions of untouchability, citizenship, social mobility, democratic politics, corporate hiring and Dalit activism. Using rich empirical evidence from the field across Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and other parts of north India, this volume presents the reasons for the persistence of caste in India from a new perspective. The book offers an original theoretical framework for comparative understandings of the entrenched social differences, discrimination, inequalities, stratification, and the modes and patterns of their reproduction.
This second edition, with a new Introduction, delves into why caste continues to matter and how caste-based divisions often tend to overlap with the emergent disparities of the new economy. A delicate balance of lived experience and hard facts, this persuasive work will serve as essential reading for students and teachers of sociology and social anthropology, social exclusion and discrimination studies, political science, development studies and public policy.
Table of Contents
List of Tables. Glossary. Preface and Acknowledgements. Introduction to the Second Edition. Introduction: The Idea of Caste. I: Hierarchies and the Politics of Citizenship 1. Pollution and Prejudice: Vestiges of Untouchability in Rural Punjab 2. Atrocities and Resistance: Dalit Assertions for Citizenship 3. Caste and Democratic Politics: A Differentiated View II: Caste in the Neo-Liberal Economy 4. Dalits in Business: Self-Employed Scheduled Castes in Urban India 5. ‘Caste-Blinding’ and Corporate Hiring Part Three: Mobility and Mobilizations 6. Social Mobility and Quest for Autonomy: Global Contours of Ravidasi Identity 7. Battling for Dignity: Dalit Activists of Delhi. Conclusions: The Futures of Caste. Bibliography. Index
Surinder S. Jodhka is Professor of Sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Senior Affiliate Fellow at the Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi, India. His research interests include the dynamics of rural transformations and agrarian change; social inequalities — old and new — and their reproduction with a focus on the social life of caste and the varied modes of its articulation in contemporary India; and the political sociology of community identities. His recent publications include Contested Hierarchies, Persisting Influence: Caste and Power in 21st Century India (ed. with James Manor, 2017); Inequality in Capitalist Societies (with Boike Rehbein and Jesse Souza, 2018); The Indian Middle Class: Oxford India Short Introductions (with Aseem Prakash, 2016); Interrogating India’s Modernity (2013); Caste: Oxford India Short Introductions (2012); Village Society (ed. 2012); Community and Identities: Contemporary Discourses on Culture and Politics in India (2001). He is the editor of the Routledge book series ‘Religion and Citizenship’. He is among the first recipients of the ICSSR-Amartya Sen Award for Distinguished Social Scientists for the year 2012.
‘Caste in Contemporary India is a significant contribution to caste studies, a valuable resource for academics and non-academics alike interested in understanding caste in rural and urban India today.’
Hira Singh, York University, Canada, in Contributions to Indian Sociology
‘The book is accessible, well written and informative in charting the efforts of those struggling to create a new dawn for Dalits and the distance that remains to be traversed. As such, it is essential reading for those wishing to comprehend this enduring form of inequality.’
Hugo Gorringe, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, UK, in Economic & Political Weekly
‘The significance of Jodhka’s very readable collection of essays is his twin focus on the structures of society that seek to oppress others whether these emanate from caste based linkages, economic and social class differences, and even reconstituted or reconstructed caste identities, as well as on the lived experience of both those who seek to oppress as well as those who are weighed down by not just the external characteristics of their oppression but more significantly, their experience of this oppression in everyday life.’
Meenakshi Thapan, Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi, India, in The Book Review
‘This book, by one of India’s foremost sociologists, illuminates the meanings and practices of caste in the present . . . Accessibly and clearly written, and based on research carried out over a good many years, [it] will inform public discussion as well as academic debate over a matter of vital importance for Indian society.’
John Harriss, Director, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Canada
‘The combination of Jodhka’s formidable intellect and a wealth of empirical data in this superb book provokes a radical rethinking of contemporary manifestations of caste in both familiar and unfamiliar contexts . . . [This] sheds striking new light on social and political transformation in India today.’
Nandini Gooptu, Head, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford, UK
‘The book is important in capturing the peculiarity of caste — namely the ways in which caste is reproduced in different forms and is reinstated while co-opting contemporary changes in the social milieu. It is, therefore, a rich source for comprehending caste realities in their present context, not only for Dalit studies specifically or studies on Punjab but also for the wider sociology of humiliation and discrimination.’
Vinod Sartape, in Journal of Punjab Studies
‘Opens up new areas of reflection by adopting an interesting approach . . . It meticulously draws its material from impressive fieldwork and always remains extremely readable . . . [T]his compilation . . . contributes greatly to Dalit studies and explores important issues.’
Alexandra de Heering, in South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal
‘While this book is historically and theoretically informed, its strength lies in its relentlessly empirical approach . . . [The] call to develop a comparative perspective on caste is the key takeaway from this insightful and highly accessible book.’
Anuj Bhuwania, in Books & Ideas
‘Studies of caste in India were frequent and quite comprehensive in the earliest research conducted by social scientists. However, those studies were flawed and somewhat biased. Jodhka’s insightful and thorough work on this important topic brings everything up to date. This is a powerful and important investigation based on solid empirical research . . . For advanced students of South Asia and educated general readers, [this will be] essential.’
J.J. Preston, Sonoma State University, in CHOICE review