Sociology Mains Syllabus
Section A – (i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society:
(a) Indology (GS. Ghurye).
(b) Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).
(c) Marxist sociology ( A R Desai).
Section C – (i) Visions of Social Change in India:
(a) Idea of development planning and mixed economy.
(b) Constitution, law and social change.
(c) Education and social change.
Little tradition and Great tradition is a conceptual approach that helps in the study of social change in India. It was first used by Robert Redfield in his book “Peasant Society and Culture” (1956) based on his study of villages in Mexico. Later on, Mckim Marriott and Milton Singer adopted this approach to study social changes in India.
The tradition of the little community is known as ‘little tradition’. It may be defined as:
· The tradition of the unlettered (i.e.. non-literate and illiterate) many people inhabiting a particular area,
· Who are unreflective, i.e. they do not critically examine or comment upon it, and accept it as it is;
· This tradition is cultivated at home; and
· Is transmitted from one generation to the next as part of the process of socialization.
The tradition of the literate is known as the ‘great tradition’, which has the following characteristics:
· It is the tradition of the lettered people who are few in number.
· They are reflective, i.e. they think about the tradition, make it sophisticated and systematize it, thus making it universal.
· This tradition is cultivated in separate and distinct institutions, such as temples, mosques, churches, synagogues, etc.
· It is transmitted as a part of the specialized, rigorous, and long learning, in which the individual is expected to internalize the tradition correctly.
MILTON SINGER’S VIEW
We can say that our traditions have become modern but because of cultural continuity we are not totally given up the indigenous traditions. He also said that both traditions are interacting and independent in the case of India. We accepted modern traditions but we did not give up our traditional values.
MCKIM MARRIOTT’S VIEW
There is an upward evolution from little tradition to great tradition and it is known as Universalization. Or we can say that when great tradition borrows the elements of little tradition then it is known as Universalization. For example- Lakshmi’s worship during the Diwali festival is the Universalization of Goddess Saurati and Raksha Bandhan is universalized from Saluna festival. But at the same time opposite is also happening i.e. downward devolution from great to little tradition and this is known as Parochialization. For example, now people are following Yoga, Ayurveda etc.
Redfield’s approach is popularly known as the ‘cultural approach’, because he looks at the interaction of the lifestyles of the two communities, the village and the city. This interaction is an outcome of the relative dependence (economic and political) of one on the other. Little traditions and great traditions interact constantly, as a result of which continuity is established between them. Cultural traits from the little tradition are carried forward to the great tradition where they are systematized. As great traditions have universal applicability, the cultural elements they systematize also become universal.
A little tradition has a narrow coverage and is confined to a local area. When it accepts elements from the great tradition, it might modify them so that they are compatible with the
characteristics of the society in general.
Orthogenetic evolution indicates changes in those areas where internal or indigenous factors are responsible for such changes. On the other hand hetereogenetic contacts indicate those changes which occur due to external contact or interference of outside civilization. There are two levels where the social structure of these civilizations operate, i.e., at the level of folks or peasants and at the level of elites or ‘reflective few’.
The folks or the peasants are included under little tradition and Great tradition includes the elite group or ‘reflective few’. However, both the types of traditions are inter-linked and constantly interact with each other. The interaction between these two traditions causes all sorts of changes and growth in cultural structure of traditions.
The whole of Indian culture can be studied with the help of these two concepts ‘Little tradition’ and “Great tradition”. These two concepts are based on the idea that the civilization and social organisation have a tradition. For analyzing the relationship and the ceaseless interaction between rural and urban societies, the concepts of little and great traditions, which Redfield proposed on the basis of his study of Mexican communities, have been found to be quite useful.