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ASSIGNMENT SOLUTIONS GUIDE (2014-2015)

E.S.O.-13
Sociological Thought
Disclaimer/Special Note: These are just the sample of the Answers/Solutions to some of the Questions given in the
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university.

Section-I
Answer the following questions in about 500 words each.

Q. 1. Should tradition and modernity be viewed as polar opposites? Discuss.

Ans. In the instinctive mode of western scholars, we had once thought of Tradition and Modernity as individual
chapters, each of them thinking about its topic as an entity to be understood in its respective essence and unity. But
we have come to understand in perhaps an equally perennial move by western students of Indian culture that these
two terms do not in themselves exist. But they do function, dialogically. They work in relation with each other.
Modernity functions as an economic and social tool to achieve some wealth, flexibility, and innovation for individuals
and groups; Tradition functions, partly and at times largely, as a mythological state which produces the sensation of
larger connectedness and stability in the face of shockingly massive social change over the last half-century. One
might also say that Modernity is an economic force with social, cultural, and political correlatives; Tradition is a
cultural force with social, economic, and political correlatives. Satisfyingly asymmetrical in their relation, they
require us, in talking of one, to talk also of the other, just as they induce us to move as nimbly as possible between
theoretical abstraction and experiential reality. But their separation is itself part of the mythological drama in current
Indian thought, just as their mutual implication is the import of the same ironic smile that brings to an effective close
any conversation one hears here about them. And so we take them in turn only, finally, to see them speaking to each
other through the lives of acquaintances, informants, and fictional protagonists.
Tradition" and modernity are widely used as polar opposites in a linear theory of social change. This theory is
examined in the light of Indian and other materials on development. Seven fallacies in this contrast usage are
presented. It is incorrect to view traditional societies as static, normatively consist, or structurally homogeneous.
The relations between the traditional and the modern do not necessarily involve displacement, conflict, or
exclusiveness. Modernity does not necessarily weaken tradition. Both tradition and modernity form the bases of
ideologies and movements in which the polar opposites are converted into aspirations, but traditional forms may
supply support for, as well as against, change.
Modernity has not been an alien concept for the Indian society, and that universal modern values like egalitarianism,
individual freedom, secularism and historical consciousness have been very much an inherent part of our society.
Today, the ideologies of Western modernity with their notions of egalitarianism and individual choice, their highlighting
the importance of material rewards rather than the spirit of human activity, their emphasis on human aspirations

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rather than limits, have led to widespread social envy, unbridled greed and selfishness in Indian society. Gusfield
argued that tradition and modernity are widely used as polar opposites in a linear theory of social change. Gusfield
presented seven fallacies in this contrast usage. According to him, it is incorrect to view traditional societies as
static, normatively consistent, or structurally homogenous. The relations between the traditional and the modern do
not necessarily involve displacement, conflict, or exclusiveness. Modernity does not necessarily weaken tradition.
Both tradition and modernity form the bases of ideologies and movements in which the polar opposites are converted
into aspirations, but traditional forms may supply support for, as well as against, change. These two terms, tradition
and modernity, do not in themselves exist. But they do function, dialogically. They work in relation with each other.
Modernity functions as an economic and social tool to achieve some wealth, flexibility, and innovation for individuals
and groups; tradition functions, partly and at times largely, as a mythological state which produces the sensation of
larger connectedness and stability in the face of shockingly massive social change over the last half-century.
Q. 2. Discuss some of the central ideas of Vilfredo Pareto.
Ans. Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto was born in Paris in 1848. of mixed Italian-French ancestry, he was the
only son of the Marquis Raffaele Pareto, an Italian exiled from his native Genoa because of his political views, and
Marie Mattenier. Because his father earned a reasonably comfortable living as a hydrological engineer, Pareto was
reared in a middle-class environment, enjoying the many advantages that accrued to people of his class in that age.
He received a quality education in both France and Italy, ultimately completing a degree in engineering at the Istituto
Politecnico of Turin where he graduated at the top of his class. Thereafter he worked as a civil engineer, first for the
state-owned Italian railway company and later in private industry.

In 1889, Pareto married Dina Bakunin, a Russian who preferred a very active social life. This clashed with
Paretos own love of privacy and solitude, and after twelve years of marriage Dina abandoned her husband. His
second wife, Jane Rgis, joined him shortly after the collapse of his marriage, and the two remained deeply devoted
to one another throughout the remainder of Paretos life.
Vilfredo Pareto always seems to engage in new departures. He abandons the world of industry and the beauty of
Florence in order to devote himself to the field of domestic economy. He puts aside the study of purely theoretical
economics and builds piece by piece a (sociology) intended to be solely experimental, in other words a science that
is not dependent upon value judgements. Disdaining the sociologies that call themselves humanitarian and
metaphysical, or Christian and marxist, rejecting propaganda and ideologies, he seeks to dispel the fog of
nonsense that pervades the political and social struggle. Disenchanted, skeptical, piercing, remarkably learned and
insatiably curious, yet at times incredibly naive, awkward and headstrong, Pareto pursues the chimera of a new
science that, after essaying to give proper weight to Mans desperate and unceasing need to justify his conduct,
might proceed to shed light on the profound reasons motivating that conduct and discern the factors that promote
equilibrium or mutation in society, that cause the rise and fall of the ruling classes. From the mass of his writings
there emerges an imposing tableau of customs, beliefs, problems, hopes and feverish quests for liberty. Denigrated
and worshipped, now read but not quoted, now paraphrased but not read, contested by all, honoured by few who
however have not understood him, Pareto is surely one of the forerunners of present-day sociology: functionalism,
structuralism, rational choice, action theory, ethnomethodology..., these are all his spurious offspring. The article
offers a concise presentation of Paretos intellectual life and positions his current research in sociology. In 1893, he
succeeded Lon Walras to the chair of Political Economy at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland where he
remained for the rest of his life. In 1906, he made the famous observation that twenty per cent of the population
owned eighty per cent of the property in Italy, later generalised by Joseph M. Juran into the Pareto principle (also
termed the 80-20 rule). In one of his books published in 1909 he showed the Pareto distribution of how wealth is
distributed, he believed through any human society, in any age, or country. He maintained cordial personal
relationships with individual socialists, but always thought their economic ideas were severely flawed. He later
became suspicious of their humanitarian motives and denounced socialist leaders as an aristocracy of brigands
who threatened to despoil the country and criticized the government of Giovanni Giolitti for not taking a tougher

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stance against worker strikes. Growing unrest among labor in Italy led him to the anti-socialist and anti-democratic
camp. His attitude toward fascism in his last years is a matter of controversy.
Paretos later years were spent in collecting the material for his best-known work, Trattato di sociologia generale
(1916) (The Mind and Society, published in 1935). His final work was Compendio di sociologia generale (1920). In
his Trattato di Sociologia Generale (1916, rev. French trans. 1917), published in English by Harcourt, Brace in a
four-volume edition edited by Arthur Livingston under the title The Mind and Society (1935), Pareto developed the
notion of the circulation of elites, the first social cycle theory in sociology. He is famous for saying history is a
graveyard of aristocracies. Pareto seems to have turned to sociology for an understanding of why his abstract
mathematical economic theories did not work out in practice, in the belief that unforeseen or uncontrollable social
factors intervened. His sociology holds that much social action is nonlogical and that much personal action is designed
to give spurious logicality to non-rational actions. We are driven, he taught, by certain residues and by derivations
from these residues. The more important of these have to do with conservatism and risk-taking, and human history
is the story of the alternate dominance of these sentiments in the ruling elite, which comes into power strong in
conservatism but gradually changes over to the philosophy of the foxes or speculators.
Section-II
Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.
Q. 3. What is Mode of Production? Discuss.
Ans. The Mode of Production is the unity of the productive forces and the relations of production. Production
begins with the development of its determinative aspect the productive forces which, once they have reached a
certain level, come into conflict with the relations of production within which they have been developing. This leads
to an inevitable change in the relations of production, since in the obsolete form they cease to be indispensable
condition of the production process. In its turn, the change in the relations of production, which means the substitution
of the new economic basis for the old one, leads to more less rapid change in the entire society. Therefore, the change
in the Mode of Production comes about not through peoples volition, but by virtue of the correspondence between
the productive relations to the character and level of development of the productive forces. Due to this, the development
of society takes the form of the natural historical change of socio-economic formations. Conflict between the productive
forces and the relations of production is the economic basis of social revolution.

The term mode of production derives from the work of Karl Marx (1818-1883), and the concept has played a
significant role in subsequent Marxist theory. Mode of production refers to the varied ways that human beings
collectively produce the means of subsistence in order to survive and enhance social being. Marx believed that
human history could be characterized by the dominant modes of production. In this sense the term refers to a specific
economic system. Marx was interested in doing two things: providing an analytical framework for defining specific
modes of production and locating those modes in terms of a theory of historical development. That being said, he
never developed these two points in a consistent or systematic manner, and thus there are both ambiguities and
contradictions contained in his writings (not unlike his treatment of social class). Nonetheless, the basic contours of
what he was getting at are clear.
The method of producing the necessities of life (whether for health, food, housing or needs such as education,
science, nurturing, etc.). The Mode of Production is the unity of the productive forces and the relations of production.
Production begins with the development of its determinative aspect the productive forces which, once they have
reached a certain level, come into conflict with the relations of production within which they have been developing.
This leads to an inevitable change in the relations of production, since in the obsolete form they cease to be
indispensable condition of the production process. In its turn, the change in the relations of production, which means
the substitution of the new economic basis for the old one, leads to more less rapid change in the entire society.
Q. 4. Differentiate between Malinowskis and Tylors concept of culture.
Ans. Culture is a concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator Cicero: cultura
animi (cultivation of the soul). This non-agricultural use of the term culture re-appeared in modern Europe in the

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17th century referring to the betterment or refinement of individuals, especially through education. During the 18th
and 19th century it came to refer more frequently to the common reference points of whole peoples, and discussion
of the term was often connected to national aspirations or ideals. Some scientists such as Edward Tylor used the term
culture to refer to a universal human capacity. The culture concept which overtime has been contrasted, combined,
and entangled with the related concepts of society, personality, identity, symbolism and practice weaves together
the history and core philosophical and methodological debates of anthropology as a discipline. Yet, today the concept
that lies at the center of what anthropology is and does is fragmented and contested, as anthropologists have taken on
the challenges put forth by postmodernity to cope with contradiction, borderlessness, constant flux, and the impacts
of anthropological and historical biases, such as sexism, orientalism, and othering. This has left some anthropologists
reaching back to science to find stability and others plunging into a realm of interpretation and description, while a
new generation of anthropologists formed within this milieu must find space to make a discipline, whose central
subject is disputed, both relevant and professional.
Tylors oft cited definition holds only a small glimpse of Tylors larger perspective on culture (Moore 2012:5-6).
Tylor viewed culture as universally similar across time and space because he saw the human mind as universally
similar. Tylors American contemporary, Lewis Morgan, also viewed culture as linked to the human mind as it
progressed through universal stages from savagery to barbarism to civilization. During the 1930s and 1940s in
Europe, Bronislaw Malinowski and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown created two schools of functionalist theory. Malinowski
argued that culture was a complex system created through the functional fulfilment of biological, psychological and
social needs.

Q. 5. Discuss Max Webers concept of Rationality.

Ans. Rationality is the quality or state of being reasonable, based on facts or reason. Rationality implies the
conformity of ones beliefs with ones reasons to believe, or of ones actions with ones reasons for action. Rationality
has different specialized meanings in economics, sociology, psychology, evolutionary biology and political science.
The Max Webers concept of rationality insofar as it is assumed to be of central importance to the formulation of his
sociological descriptions of world religions. This type of enquiry is, of course, consistent with a long tradition in
sociology which examines such knowledge as has thus far been put forth in the field, and the procedures by which it
was obtained. There are various warrants for such activities, such as to point out that, as natives of this society
engaged in a particular social activity, science, sociologists activities are part of the phenomena that they wish to
study, and thus any knowledge about what sociologists do is knowledge about ordered activities in social settings
and thus about the proper subject matter of the discipline.
There is however a particularly dubious and prevalent warrant which we want to initially mention to avoid any
such assumption being made about this enquiry. A positivistic sounding brand of it might go something like this: The
successful sciences like physics, in the growth of their enterprise, not only learned about physics but also learned
how to learn. Thus, if one could discover the procedures employed to yield physicists their greatest successes, we
might benefit from the knowledge they gained about knowledge in these processes and adopt some of their techniques
for our enquiries.
Q. 6. Write a note on Radcliffe Browns fieldwork among Andaman Islanders.

Ans. Alfred Reginald Brown was born in Birmingham, England on January 17, in 1881. At the age of twenty
years old, he entered Cambridge University planning to study philosophy, psychology, economics, and the natural
sciences. When he was there, he became friends with another student named Peter Kropotkin. Kropotkins view on
survival of the fittest was different than the common idea in that his was the selection for skills that allowed humans
to thrive by working together. This idea influenced Radcliffe-Browns thinking and laid the foundation for his
views on social anthropology. Following the lead of one of his teachers, he switched his focus from psychology to
anthropology and was persuaded to do fieldwork. Eggan and Warren say that "from Rivers and Haddon came the
stimulus to field research, and Radcliffe-Brown spent the years 1906-1908 in the Andaman Islands (1956: 544).
This research led Radcliffe-Brown to about his experience with the Andaman Islanders. This was first presented as

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his thesis which gained him a Fellowship of Trinity College. The thesis dealt with a reconstruction of Andamanese
culture history. After returning from the Andaman Islands, he got his Fellowship and spent the next two years,
according to Fortes, teaching at the London School of Economics, where he held the newly created post of Reader
in Ethnology, and at Cambridge, where he lectured on Comparative Sociology. While he was teaching, he became
aware of the ideas of sociology that were emerging from France. He started reading about Emile Durkheim and
Marcel Mauss. This made him interested in the meanings and functions behind myths, rites, and institutions. Before
reading this, Radcliffe-Brown was more in tune with his teacher at Cambridge, W. H. R. Rivers, who dealt with the
problems of ethnology. His report on the Andaman Islands reflected the diffusionist proclivities of Rivers.
Malinowski was also interested in the way social institutions worked to meet individual needs. Radcliffe-Brown,
on the other hand, was seen as an armchair anthropologists with the only major in-depth study being done with the
Andaman Islanders.
Section-III
Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.
Q. 7. Distinguish between Eunomia and Dysnomia.
Ans. Ancient Greeks thought that the ideas of health and disease could be applied to society to distinguish
conditions of eunomia (which refers to good order or social health) from dysnomia (which denotes disorder or
social ill-health). In brief, eunomia refers to function and dysnomia refers to dysfunctions. In the organic world,
there is a special science called pathology which studies ill-health or the phenomena of dysnomia or dysfunction.
In the 19th century, Durkheim borrowed this concept of Pathology from the organic sciences and used it in his
sociological studies of Suicide and Division of Labour in Society. He called it social pathology. In these two
studies he attempted to find out objective criteria by which to judge whether a given society at a given time is
normal or pathological, eunomic or dysnomic. Durkheim preferred to use the term anomie conditions in place of
dysnomic conditions.

With regard to the organic structures we can find strictly objective criteria by which we distinguish disease from
health, pathological from normal. Disease may either threaten the organism with death or interfere with its organic
activities or functions. As far as the human societies are concerned, we cannot say that societies die in the manner in
which the organism dies.
Q. 8. What is Function according to R.K. Merton?

Ans. Robert Mertons contribution to sociology is one of great importance in regards to the functional perspective
of society. Merton recognized that some functions were intentional and other functions were not. Merton and other
functionalists viewed society as an organism with various parts, and each part has a function to perform. He also
acknowledged that some functions actually disrupted society.
The functionalist perspective states that society is a complex system whose parts work together to promote the
stability and survival of society. The parts, or the structures, of society, such as the education system, criminal justice
system, and economical system, all have a function, or a job, to perform. When all parts are performing their functions
correctly, society as a whole runs smoothly. However, have one part not functioning correctly and there will be an
adverse reaction to society. Robert Merton pointed out that all parts of society have various functions in which they
perform. Some of these functions are obvious and others are not-so-obvious.

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