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6 - Politics in the middle: mediating relationships between the citizens and the state in rural North India

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 October 2009

Anirudh Krishna
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor of Public Policy Studies, Sanford Institute for Public Policy, Duke University
Herbert Kitschelt
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
Steven I. Wilkinson
Affiliation:
Duke University, North Carolina
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Summary

Caste and patron–client links have been regarded most often as the building blocks of political organization in India, especially in its rural parts (Migdal 1988; Weiner 1989), and caste associations have been thought to be the pre-eminent mode of interest formation and interest articulation for ordinary villagers (Bailey 1957; Morris-Jones 1967; Panini 1997). Caste has changed over the last twenty-five years, however, and the links between caste and occupation and caste and wealth are no longer as close as they used to be (Mayer 1997; Sheth 1999). Many observers continue to stress caste and patron–client linkages as important factors explaining political mobilization in rural India (Karanth 1997; Kothari 1997; Manor 1997). The relation of caste to political organization is mediated, however, by the nature of state policies. Changes produced by state policies over the last twenty-five years have had the result of diminishing the utility for villagers of older caste- and patronage-based conduits. In sixty-nine villages where I studied these features, located in the northern Indian states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, different forms of political association have arisen and gained ground, and the salience of older patronage-based associations has waned considerably in comparison.

Varying stimuli produced by the state at different times have resulted in reconfiguring caste and political association, the historical account shows (Bayly 1988; Dirks 2001). As the nature and the rules of the political game have changed once again over the past twenty-five years, caste and other forms of social aggregation have changed further in response.

Type
Chapter
Information
Patrons, Clients and Policies
Patterns of Democratic Accountability and Political Competition
, pp. 141 - 158
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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