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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Max Weber’s distinction between class and status, identifying caste as the latter, is the single most important influence on the mainstream sociology of caste. There is ambiguity in Weber’s conceptualization in the sense that the contrast between class and status is marked by precarity in the long run when stabilization of economic power serves as a condition for the predominance of status usurpations. This ambiguity remains unresolved in Weber’s conceptual formulation. Mainstream sociology of caste owing allegiance to Weber reifies the contrast between caste as status and class. In Weber, caste is part of global-historical enquiry. In mainstream sociology, caste is uniquely Indian. It is argued that a critical scrutiny separating the rational and historically verifiable from the irrational empirically-historically unverifiable elements in Weber’s conceptual and theoretical formulations will enrich the Weberian legacy. Similarly, historical, cross-cultural comparative study will liberate caste from the myth of Indian exceptionalism.

Keywords: class, status, caste, religion, political economy

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