‘Caste, Capital and “Less-than-Societies”: A Comparative Analysis’ by Prof. Soumyabrata Choudhury

Prof. Soumyabrata Choudhury from School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU presented his research entitled ‘Caste, Capital and “Less-than-Societies”: A Comparative Analysis’ at the Sociological Research Colloquium.

When: Friday, 29th September 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Where: Seminar Room (First Floor), Department of Sociology, University of Delhi 


In this paper I utilize Wolfgang Streeck’s coinage of “less-than-societies” in his new book How will Capitalism End? to refer to both relations of contemporary capital and the logic of caste (which Streek does not address). While less-than-societies refer to situations of institutional crisis where the horizon of a social totality is not available to individuals and the later have to survive by a kind of improvised adhocism during crisis, it seems to me this frame work in an interesting way applies to dissimilar yet globally articulated societies such as the western developed ones and one like India. However the temporaries of less than societies in the capitalist and in the caste perspectives are asymmetrical. While western societies are experiencing the breakdown of social integration – or what sociologists call systems integration – at the fag end of neo-liberal globalization, the auto-fragmentary logic of caste (or what Ambedkar calls graded system of sovereignty) is the very premise of a society like India which apparently is actively on the path to becoming a global economic power. The political implication on the one had of this dissymmetry is that the question of resisting capitalist domination cannot be collapsed into the strategies of anti-caste campaigns; at the same time global capitalism cannot but capitalise every single feature of the world as it exists including something so specific as caste. This leads to the larger query as to what general form of critique can be thinkable in the times of crisis of society brought upon by capitalist dis-order on the one hand and on the other by a conscious collective desire to make capitalism itself the historical and structural opportunity of social rationalization. 

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