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Sanskritization and Westernization

Updated on December 23, 2012


Sankritization is the process by which a low caste or tribe or other groups takes over the customs, rituals, beliefs, ideology and life style of a higher caste. The term was coined by M.N.Srinivas in his studies on Coorgs in India and it was primarily meant to describe the process of cultural mobility in the traditional rural India.

Changes adopted by an aspiring lower caste as part of this acultural emulation include;

  • Erosion of cultural autonomy of the woen folk includes erosion in the freedom to choose life partner.
  • Changes in family structure include a movement towards the orthodox Hindu joint family.
  • Stronger authority to father, monogamy, a stronger caste organisation with increased tendency of out casting.
  • Change in food habits include outlawing beef and pork eating and consumption of liquor.
  • Acquisition of higher education.
  • Adoption of dowry practices instead of the token bride price.
  • Change in religious practices include donning of sacred thread, giving up of sacrifice of pigs at the time of wedding and increased emphasis on pilgrimage.

Factors that hastened the process of Sankritization

Political and Economic Factors; The establishment of British rule in India gave more opportunities to lower castes to sanskritize themselves and raise their social status.

Expanding means of transport and communication too have contributed to the process by the way of new avenues and opportunities of cultures contracts.

Democratic system provided more freedom to choose their own lines and hence more avenues for sankritization.

However, lower castes aspiring to climb upwards in caste hierarchy have to face hostility from the castes of middle strata. The same from higher castes too when the lower castes try to start using shoes or wear neat and clean clothes.

Lower castes are more liberal, permissive and progressive despite their lower status. They have liberal and positive attitude especially towards the position of women but tend to become conservative by the process of sankritization.

However, the lower castes beside restoring to sankritization to acquire higher status in the society, they are also struggling fiercely to retain their backward status for taking advantage of educational concessions and government job.



Westernization refers to all cultural changes and institutional innovations in India as this country came into political and cultural contract with the western nations especially British.

Westernization include establishment of scientific, technological and educational institutions, rise of nationalism, new political culture and leadership in the country.

The influence of westernization on India society include;

  • Influence on caste system.
  • Disintegration of Joint family.
  • Number of social reform movements.
  • Disintegration of cottage industries.
  • Variety in cultivation.
  • New measures in land management.
  • Democratic values and ideas were promoted.
  • Social justice and uniform administrative system developed.

Sanskritization and Westernization

M.N.Srinivas expressed that westernisation and sanskritisation were going together. He emphasized the same from the following;

Westernization improved communication and technology; it hastened the process of Sanskritization through religious propaganda and caste and communal congregation.

Higher castes gave up traditional customs and adopted the life style of the westerns. Lower castes aspiring for higher status filled the higher caste vacuum through Sanskritization.

It was observed that the higher caste perhaps to maintain the social distance between themselves and the lower castes they have adopted the life style of westerns. By the time the lower caste reached their destiny through Sanskritization, the upper caste have vacated that place through westernization.

However, aspiring sections of lower castes in towns and cities are going straight to westernization.


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      Anamika Singh 5 months ago


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      Zion Mikael 15 months ago

      Nice page sir.Dilip

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      Yukwa Huang 2 years ago

      The topic is very interesting am new in dis subject and through dis info I’ able to complete my project and acquire knowledge abt dis topic Thank You so much

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      shyama charan 4 years ago

      Very nice . it is informative.... Carry on the other topics of anthropology.

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      fiza 5 years ago

      i like this page very much

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      rupsha 5 years ago

      very helpd me a LOT to undrstand

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 6 years ago from India

      @ Ruchira, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

      Hi Dilip,

      you have pointed out a very essential point esp in today's era where everything is getting westernized.

      I feel some points are better off being westernized and some should be followed from our culture down. I am kinda 50:50 on the above but, alas that is not happening today.

      Great topic to hub on and voted up as interesting!