1st Edition

Checkpoint Sociology A Cultural Reading of Policies and Politics

By Dipankar Gupta Copyright 2023

    Relying on many years of fieldwork and on his involvement with several national level policy making bodies, this book presents a cultural interpretation of how public life and state interventions in India should be viewed. While commending statistical interventions in governmental decision making, it detects a marked deficiency in the understanding of how cultural factors impress upon and condition economic life.

    Towards this end, Dipankar Gupta interrogates anti-poverty drives, labour relations, election studies and, in this process, provides a novel and helpful guide towards resolving the vexing relationship between the domains of the public and the private. In all of this, the sociological antenna is constantly at work, beeping helpful signals on how one might untangle knotty issues in public life.

    More than anything else, this book urges policy makers to be self-consciously intersubjective in their approach and this is where sociology can make its mark. The Appendix provides a medley of situations where cultural sensitivity and the discipline of sociology prove their worth in figuring out fresh ways to resolve outstanding problems in our country.

    This book is co-published with Aakar Books. Print edition not for sale in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bhutan)


    1. Smell Check Your Numbers: Public Policy andSociological Sensitivity

    2. Numerical Thresholds as Industrial Inhibitors: Raising Capacity and Formalizing the Economy

    3. The Changing Villager: What the Numbers Do Not Tell

    4. Normalising Caste: Same Numbers, Differing Relations

    5. Beyond Numbers to Citizenship: Overcomingthe Majority-Minority Divide

    6. Urban Planning for "Citizens": Emphasising Space Over Non-Space

    7. Individuals Possess Rights, Governments Perform Duties: Citizenship and Social Policy

    8. Confidence Crisis: Liberalism as a State of Exception

    9. Source Credibility and Campaign Redundancy:The Merits of Slow Thinking

    10. The Public and Private in Policy Making: Lessons for Media and Covid Control

    11. Culture War Won: Defying Arithmetic in 2019 Elections

    12. Why Other People Matter: Empathy and its Policy Implications

    13. Checkpoint Sociology: Three Theses on Method


    Vignettes: Policy against Prejudice




    Dipankar Gupta taught in the School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for three decades. He has authored numerous books on caste, modernity, rural India and ethnicity. His current interest lies primarily in understanding how sociology can help understand and assist social policy.