The Caste System

Lesson 1, Topic 1
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The Caste System

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Directions: Before you start, listen to part of a talk in a sociology class.

*Vocabulary is sometimes provided in written form when it may be unfamiliar to the student but essential for understanding the lecture

caste systems

The Caste System - Transcript

Caste systems are closed stratification systems in which people can do little or nothing to change their social standing. People are born into their social standing and will remain in it their whole lives. Individuals are assigned occupations regardless of their talents, interests, or potential. There are virtually no opportunities to improve one’s social position.

In the Hindu caste tradition, people were expected to work in the occupation of their caste and to enter into marriage according to their caste. Accepting this social standing was considered a moral duty. Cultural values reinforced the system. Caste systems promote beliefs in fate, destiny, and the will of a higher power, rather than promoting individual freedom as a value. A person who lived in a caste society was raised to accept his or her social standing.

Although the caste system in India has been officially dismantled, its residual presence in Indian society is deeply embedded. In rural areas, aspects of the tradition are more likely to remain, while urban centers show less evidence of this past. In India’s larger cities, people now have more opportunities to choose their own career paths and marriage partners. As a global center of employment, corporations have introduced merit-based hiring and employment to the nation.