Practice  Question  – Discuss Yogendra Singh’s thesis on Modernisation of Indian Tradition. And evaluate its applicability in the present day context. [UPSC 2017]

Approach – Explain Singh’s theory of modernisation, Apply it to contemporary society, Criticism, Conclusion.


Yogendra Singh is neither functionalist nor Marxist but he empha­sizes theory in relation to context. Therefore, he relates structural-functional, structuralism, structural-historical, culturalism and Marxist orientation and constructs in the study social stratification. He applied integrated approach for his analysis of social stratification, modernization and change in Indian society. Singh has published extensively in national and international scholarly research journals. He is also author of many books. His main works are  1. Modernization of Indian Tradition (1973) 2. Essays on Modernization (1977) 3. Social Stratification and Social Change in India (1978).


The Concepts given by Yogendra Singh


The compilation of essays by Yogendra Singh on Culture Change in India: Identity and Globalization (2000) is an effort to focus upon some of the significant processes of changes in the domain of culture in India. To begin with, “The Significance of Culture in the Understanding of Social Change in Contemporary India” deals with various orienta­tions in the work of Indian sociologists in their study of culture, the new challenges that such study may now encounter due to the new processes of culture changes through the emergence the ‘infor­mation society’ and its consequences leading to the resurgence of the consciousness of the identity among ethnic groups, minorities and weaker sections of society. Singh views that globalization expands the scope and speed of cultural interaction across societal boundaries; the incidence of migration and emergence of cultural diaspora bring about intense cultural, social and economic interaction. This is made possible due to the telecommunication revolution but the cultural processes that it sets into motion acquire significance, related as these are to the possibilities of cultural assimilation, adaptation, integration or conflict in course of such cultural contacts.

The book mainly concerns with changes in cultural styles through exposure to global cultural patterns. It also examines the impact of electronic media, migration and increased pace of inter-cultural interactions upon local, regional and national levels of culture. It deals with how these processes have led to the rise in popular culture, changes in the form and style of leisure activities, given rise to new normative standards for defining community relationships, political leadership and generally how it reflects upon India’s ability in the future to maintain cultural and social resilience to face up the new challenges of modernization and globalization.



Modernization is a composite concept. It is also an ideological concept. The models of modernization co-vary with the choice of ideologies. The composite nature of this concept renders it pervasive in the vocabulary of social sciences and evokes its kinship with concepts like ‘development’, ‘growth’, ‘evolution’ and ‘prog­ress’. The basic problematic of modernization in the Third World nations is ideological, particularly when we examine the modern­ization ideology in India. In the book on Essays on Modernization in India, Singh has analysed the varied and complex processes involved in the modernization in India, the forces released by it and their bearing on the stability, creativity and development in India as a dynamic nation and composite civilization. 

The emphasis on historicity in preference to universality defining the context of modernization, the pre-eminence of structural changes in society to render the adaptive process of modernization successful in the developing countries particularly India and the eclectic nature of cultural and ideological response of India to the challenges of modernization, represent some of the unifying principles that bind these essays into a composite cognitive approach to modernization. Offering an integrated perspective, Singh portrays the challenges and contradic­tions that India encounters in the course of its modernization.



Stratification is the social process through which rewards and resources such as wealth, power and prestige are distributed system­atically and unequally within are among societies. Concepts, particularly examined in the analysis of social strati­fication, are those of ‘caste’, ‘class’ and ‘peasantry’ and ‘elites’ and the process include ‘social mobility’, ‘structural differentiation’ and its consequent social contradictions. The sociology of change in India has similar been reviewed in terms of theoretic-adequacy and relative power of the evolutionary, nominalist (sanskritization-westernization), structuralist, dialectical, cognitive, historical and institutional approaches employed in various studies. Thus, Singh (1977) reviews the trend of sociology of social stratifi­cation on India focusing upon some of these specific structural units of stratification.

Singh (1969) conducted a study of caste and power structure in rural society. His study of caste and its changing forms and functions refers to the implication of the system for Indian social stratification. It is not meant to be a review of caste studies as such. Caste system is seen here as a status principle of social stratification, for sociology of social stratification in India, the treatment of caste becomes unavoidable as a standard to measure changes with reference to other principles of stratification such as of wealth (class) and power (elite). These new principles only sometimes operate autonomously; more often they operate contingently together with the caste principle of social stratification.



Singh (1973) labels social change as ‘ideology’. If the relevance of the concepts of sanskritization and westernization is not as analytical proposition but ‘truth asserting concepts’ as Singh has aptly characterized them – sanskritization, westernization, parochialization, universalization, little and great traditions, rural-urban dichotomy or continuum, etc. enriched the body of sociology of knowledge. The Trend Report on the Concepts and Theories of Social Change further substantiates it. Singh viewed that studies on social change in India have been fragmentary. These studies usually refer to isolated aspects such as caste, family, occupation, etc., and these elements themselves are usually found to have been studied in a local setting – at most at a regional level, and not for India as a whole.






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