Embodiment of caste: oppression, protest and change

Irene Rafanell, Hugo Gorringe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Caste is often presented as a stable or fixed form of social stratification that conditions the behaviour of its members.This occludes the micro-structural process by which caste is embodied.This article uses empirical work on caste protest to discuss the fluid nature of embodied activity, and the analytical utility of two social constructionist accounts: the tacitly pre-given structures of Bourdieu's model are compared to the continuous creation model of Foucault.Whereas the internalized structures of Bourdieu's habitus initially appear to make most sense of the embodiment and permanence of caste, we contend that a Foucauldian approach offers better insight into the interactional basis of social structures and identity formation.The article reconsiders both theories in light of these empirical data and concludes that analysing interaction at a local level enables us to better comprehend the emergence of social structural features in a caste context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-114
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


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