ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on November 5, 2016

M.N. Srinivas is the representative sociologist of India who belongs to Structural Functionalist perspective. He applied A.R. Radcliffe Brown’s Structural Functionalist perspective and W.H. Rivers Diffusionist perspective in study of Caste System.

In his book “Caste and other Essays” he presented his perspective regarding caste. He came to adopt structural functional approach. Structural-functional approach is also one of the approaches within positivism. He wanted to study Caste system in India through ‘field work’. He rejected the Varna scheme about caste as mere ‘textual view’ and said that it no longer describes contemporary reality of caste. Utmost, it served only as a comparative frame of reference. He suggests field work/contextual view as the method for acquiring knowledge about caste system.

At the empirical level, caste existed as Jati. In every village or locality there existed number of mutually exclusive castes, each of these castes being hereditary endogamous groups. These castes constitute a local hierarchy and that this hierarchy had two dimensions: (a) Ritual (b) Secular. The ritual dimension of Caste is based on mutual opposition of purity and pollution, while secular hierarchy is based on ownership of land, access to political power, numerical strength and education.

On the basis of his study of Rampura village in Mysore, he found that secular hierarchy may not always overlap with ritual hierarchy, so he introduced the concept of ‘dominant caste’. Dominant Caste is the one which is placed high in secular hierarchy though it may be low in ritual hierarchy. He referred to Vokkaliga castes of Karnataka. It was a middle rung caste based on ritual hierarchy, but at top of secular hierarchy. So, Vokkaligas constituted the dominant caste in that area.

Each caste existed with an occupational stability and that gave rise to interdependence of castes. It is this interdependence of castes, which was basis for solidarity in village communities.

He says that, there are two main dimensions to solidarity or unity in caste system:

(a) Vertical solidarity (b) Horizontal Solidarity

Vertical solidarity is due to interdependence of castes. Horizontal solidarity results because of common culture, ways of life, occupation and cooperation in day to day matters.

Although Hinduism, as per its ideology discouraged mobility in caste, aspirations for mobility always existed. This process of social mobility in caste follows along two lines:

(a) Sanskritization (b) Westernization.

Sanskritization followed when a caste improves its secular status either by gaining land/wealth/political power. This in turn was followed by adoption of culture and rituals of locally dominant castes. Sanskritic lifestyle was adopted to claim a high social success. The sanskritization, depended on group acceptance which would be the village communities including Brahmins.

On other hand, Westernization was mobility outside the Caste System. It was an attempt to gain high secular status and not high ritual status, by adopting modern education, western lifestyle. Westernization was more common to Dwija Castes—Sanskritization was more common in middle rung castes.

Various policies followed by British and Independent India, which are justified on humanitarian grounds, have given a new lease of life to Caste. They have strengthened caste identities.

In pre British India, political system was characterized by clear territorial cleavages. This put a limit on horizontal extensions of caste relations because political frontiers determined the effective social space for each caste living within them.

But, starting with British rule, political barriers broke down. And horizontal ties have expanded because of expansion of political boundaries. And, because of increase in transport and communication, media etc. there is expansion of vertical to horizontal relations. Over the time, caste has expanded its vast area. Regional ties also came to existence.

In post-independent India, caste has found new fields of activity while its traditional roles have declined, it has acquired new functions. For example: political function as a basis of political mobilization. Power activities of caste have increased in proportion, as political power passed to people with coming of democracy. Also, caste has become a basis of reform. So, we see emergence of many movement under influence of west.


- M.N. Srinivas rejected cultural perspective of caste, especially propounded by Louis Dumont but many sociologists believe that caste is a cultural particularistic phenomena but M.N. Srinivas did not accept this

- M.N. Srinivas presents only the harmonious and interdependent aspect of the caste system whereas caste is a competitive and phenomena of dominance over each other (William Rowe, Owen Lynch, R.E. Schermerhorn, F.G. Bailey etc.)

- His caste perspective present caste system as a very static and functional system and some way he tries to justify this phenomena.

- M.N. Srinivas neglects the political factor behind the dominance of one caste over the other.

- His theory/perspective cannot be applied on other parts of India because of its inherent diversity.


M.N. Srinivas is a pioneer sociologist in Indian sociology. His perspective is popularly known as Structural Functional perspective of caste system in which he tried to explain caste system as a harmonious and interdependent institution. Though he has ignored the competitive and conflictist aspect of the caste system but his perspective has benefitted Indian sociology in two ways. First, he initiated field studies, second, he tried to explain Caste System as one of the institutions of Indian Society and not as society in itself.

M.N. Srinivas also tried to explain that Caste System is not a unique system rather the basic nature of it is social stratification which is universally found. For example, Jajmani system is a form of barter system but in his perspective he tried to ignore the uniqueness of Caste System which is still criticized. Overall, his perspective is the most important and representative perspective of Caste System through Structural Functionalist view in Indian Sociology.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)