Categories Anthropology II

II. Processes of Cultural change in Indian Society

In Indian anthropology , De-tribalisation, Acculturation, Assimilation, Integration and Cultural Mutation, Industrialisation and Urbanisation, Trans-acculturation, Contra-acculturation, En-culturation etc. terms are applied in studying various processes of culture change operating in Indian social system.

1. De-tribalisation, at the conceptual level, is a recent phenomena through which culture change is being studied. When we idealised the traditional Adivasi culture, we may identify the genius of the tribal style of life with simplicity, self-reliance, homogenity, cooperation, distinctiveness, honesty etc. but when one notes that these values of tribal culture are being replaced fastly by complexity, hetrogeneity, competition, conflict, frustration etc., one feels ethically disturbed and calls this pattern of change negatively as detribalisation.

2. Robert Redfield, R. Linton and M.J. Herskovits defined that—“acculturation is a phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first hand contact, with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups”.

In Indian anthropology, in principle of acculturation, S.N. Ratha has studied “Caste as Form of Acculturation” (1977), where the author has attempted to study the processes; of acculturation through the changing affairs of caste in Indian social system.

3. Through the process of assimilation, the cultural traits are absorbed by the society to a great extent and in course of time those alien traits become the part and parcel of that society.

4. Integration and cultural mutation are important processes of culture change. Integrations at inter tribal and intra-tribal levels are studied to reveal the nature and extent of culture change.

5.Processes of industrialisation and urbanisation are modern forces of culture change, but which discussions have already been made earlier.

6. Through the process of trans-acculturation the cultural traits are exchanged while through contra-acculturation one attempts to study the lost glory of revival of the past glory of culture, and these lead to the study of culture change. Some culturalogists have argued that the newly born baby has no culture or what Malinowski used to call “zero point of culture change” (1944). Thus, when a baby takes birth in the family, he starts learning something and this process is called enculturation. Finally, it may be noted here that it is difficult to relate one process of change exclusively with a particular area or tribe, as in the dynamic process of culture change they might overlap at different places, space and time.

Acculturation studies have been motivated by the realisation that there are no “pure” or uncontaminated cultures in the world today. Secondly, contents of the Indian social system, irrespective of the tribe and caste, have been the subject of culture change through multiple processes and methods. Thus, theoretical terms, concepts and explanatory postulates etc., have developed by the sociologists and social anthropologist to study the various aspects of culture change.


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