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Social Change and Education

Geetha B. Nambissan

By Jacob Aikara
Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2004, pp. 276, Rs. 575.00

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 10 October 2005

The impetus for sociological research in education in India can be traced to the late 1960s when, following the Kothari Commission Report, there was an emphasis on the critical role that education could play in bringing about modernization and enabling social change in post- Independence India. The need for research in understanding the relationship between education and society, and addressing concerns such as equality of educational opportunity, nation building and internalization of ‘modern values’ provided the background in which sociological research on education was first initiated. Over the decades and especially since the 1990s there has been growing interest in the study of education, and academic and popular journals have seen considerable spurt in writings on the subject. While disciplinary perspectives in the social sciences inform some of these writings, a considerable proportion of such work remains largely descriptive and prescriptive accounts of education. Given the complexity of Indian society, and the significant socio-economic and political processes that influence the social fabric today, the need for critical analysis of institutions such as education using sociological theories, concepts and methodologies becomes extremely important. The book being reviewed is one such attempt and must be welcomed. As Aikara says in his very first sentence, his concern is to present a sociological perspective of education.   Aikara views education as a ‘social institution’ that ‘impacts… and is constantly affected in various ways by the social institutions like stratification, polity, economy and religion’. The nature of interaction between education and these institutions forms the major thrust of the book. Issues of concern in education such as equality and the right to education, privatization and community participation, as well as literacy and vocational skills for adults are seen to emerge from this ‘mutual interaction’ of institutions and receive the author’s attention. Among the various theoretical frameworks that have been used by sociologists to study education, the author prefers to use the functionalist perspective. This is reflected in his view of education as ‘a system of social relationships’, the emphasis on ‘status-roles’ governed by norms and values of expected or desirable behaviour, the emergence of institutions in relation to needs and functions and the focus on mutual interaction of social institutions. Each theme is first introduced more generally in a chapter and subsequently located within the Indian context.   The mutually interacting nature of institutions provides the frame for analysis. In his discussion of education and social ...

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