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Understanding Social Processes and Institutions

 Essays on Approach and Method by Andre Beteille; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2001; pp 288, $ 13.

Culture of Agriculture

Harbingers of Rain: Land and Life in South India by A R Vasavi; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999; pp xiv+178, Rs 325.

Caste, Race and Human Rights

The idea that 'caste is race plus' may prove effective in drawing world attention to bear on the practice of caste. The practice of caste cannot, however, be eradicated by strategies that merely legitimise caste and caste-based politics. Hence, if we are intent on gaining more than mere political mileage from the proceedings of the Durban conference, it is time to recognise that non-caste secular strategies need to be innovative to eliminate the social evils of caste.

M N Srinivas and Sociology

Sociologists, M N Srinivas believed, should recognise that they deal with 'messy' phenomena and all they can do is to muddle through to discern patterns wherever possible. In doing so often the sociologist has to be like a craftsman who makes his own tools to handle his material. The sociologist has to either improvise concepts or borrow appropriate ones to gain insights into significant processes and arrange messy data to uncover patterns and structures they hide.

Trends in Cultural Globalisation

The farmers of Karnataka have been receptive to agribusiness firms and optimistic about economic liberalisation. But agribusiness has left them dependent on technical experts and scientists; and they are more vulnerable to changes in market and climatic conditions. If globalisation is to succeed, we need to build institutions to harness the forces of market liberalisation.

Corporate Culture in India

development cannot be adequately grasped unless the role of 'non-economic factors' is taken into account. This recognition, however, has generated a controversy over the precise role assigned to 'non-economic factors' in development. There was a time when under the influence of Schumpetcr's ideas on entrepreneurship, 'non-economic factors' were considered more important than 'economic factors'. Schumpeter argued that the entrepreneur almost defied the laws of economics to give the critical push necessary for the economy to attain higher levels of efficiency1. Instead of working within the confines of the market the entrepreneur, according to Schumpeter, created new markets by discovering and introducing new products and processes. This theory brought the role of innovative individuals to the centre of stage, but for a short period. The very logic of development seemed to undermine the role of the entrepreneur. Schumpeter himself recognised subsequently that the growth of giant modern corporations routinised the creative role of the entrepreneur2. The modern corporation, it appeared, had reduced 'production' to precisely the process that economists had in mind when they defined the term, viz, a combining of 'factors of production' according to certain predetermined technical norms and criteria. True, some industrial sociologists did even then point out that production involves the coming together of human beings in an organisation and that 'human relations' affected productivity.3 But this argument tacitly acknowledged that 'human relations' can at best only enable a corporation in attaining the optimal level of production that was set independently using the laws of engineering and economics. That is, the 'non-economic factors' now came to be regarded as mere constraining factors and hence secondary.

Politics and Society in Karnataka

Politics and Society in Karnataka M N Srinivas M N Panini Karnataka, in contrast to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, has not been hospitable to radical social move- ments. The seemingly dramatic political changes in Karnataka since the 1970s thus present a sharp contrast to the conservative social order, and demand an explanation.
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