Politics of social change

CULTURE AND RATIONALITY - The Politics of Social Change in post- colonial India: Subrata K. Mitra; Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd., M-32, Market, Greater Kailash-I, New Delhi- 110048. Rs. 525.

THIS BOOK discusses the politics of social change in independent India. Using the post-colonial state as the backdrop, it addresses the theoretical issues of transformation in a multi- cultural and hierarchical society which is coping with the twin challenges of democratisation and development. The fact that one despairs of change but has to concede its inevitability has severe methodological implications for the study of social transformation. An important corner of the field today is, according to the author, occupied by those who are impatient with theories and the empirical tools of social measurement. The response from the other side, the die-hard empiricists, has been occasionally just as intemperate, reducing the phenomenon of social transfiguration to the minutiae of social and economic indicators.

By drawing upon both the instrumental rationality of the actor and the role of culture and religion which serve as the springboard for values, the author combines rational choice theory and critical culturalism to show how individual decisions translate into collective action. The first four chapters discuss the implications of the modernisation paradigm for social change in India.

Part II, comprising six essays, addresses specific problems where the benefit-maximising individuals are engaged in drawing on all the resources available to them as part of their efforts to move society in a direction they prefer. Part III concentrates on the implications of the process of social change for the state in India.

The book is a political scientist's way of looking at social change in a post-colonial setting. It is highly stimulating and theoretically sound, and will be of interest to those in the fields of politics, sociology, anthropology and political and social theory.