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Challenging Paradigms

K.C. Suri

By Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2008, pp. xv 324, xiv 344, xviii 435, Rs. 695.00, 695.00, 750.00


The three volumes, Explaining Indian Democracy, bring together the research publications of Lloyd Rudolph and Susanne Rudolph over a period of fifty years. These essays are the product of a highly fruitful intellectual collaboration between two prominent scholars who are also wife and husband, which is rare in any profession. The essays cover a wide variety of themes and issues, ranging from epistemology and research methods in social science to political modernization, state formation, parties and party politics, agrarian politics, media and culture, bureaucracy, public policy, economic reforms and foreign affairs. Most of them transcend the conventional disciplinary boundaries of political science, sociology, social anthropology, political economy, history and psychology. They reflect the evolution of their perspective, the changing vocabulary of politics and shifts in the areas of interest in tune with changing times and research needs. Reading these essays we find an extraordinary commitment to the study of Indian politics and society in an empathetic manner, an attempt to challenge the reigning paradigms in comparative political analysis, to capture the dynamics or dialectics of Indian democracy, to take up case studies in order to generate generalizations, and to offer fresh insights and new interpretations of Indian politics.   For the convenience of readers, each volume is organized into different sections under specific themes, although many essays are not amenable to easy classification. Each section has an introduction, where the authors provide a synoptic view of the articles included in these sections, the central questions asked therein and the conclusions arrived at. The first volume has two sections: Modes of inquiry and Theorizing Politics and Society. Volume two also has two sections, namely Processes of state formation and Processes of institutional change. The third volume has four sections, namely Identity politics, Interpreting lives (Amar Singh and Gandhi), Making US foreign policy and Writing as public intellectuals. All of them are reprints of their works published earlier either in the form of articles in professional journals or chapters in their well-known books. About twenty of them are written individually by Lloyd Rudolph and Susanne Rudolph and others are jointly authored by the couple, while two are written in collaboration with others.   The central theme of the volumes remains what the Rudolphs have set forth in their major collaborative work, The Modernity of Tradition, published in 1967. In this they challenge the view taken at the time by the theorists of political modernization dealing ...

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