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Understanding ‘Rural’ and Village Society



Nepal is predominantly characterised and perceived by her rural and village societies. It is only about one-fifth of the total population that forms the city and urban spaces. Despite the dominance of rural and its associated historical manifestation in the Global South, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of what it is or of what it constitutes or how it is perceived or lived. The rural of South Asia hasn’t been defined of what it is but of what it is not and the phenomena of ruralism constructed on an interlinked social, cultural, political, economic and environmental matrix; same as of urbanism, still, it finds itself with a reputation of unestablished discourse. It is certain that urban spaces play a critical role in the contemporary world and especially in the underdeveloped and developing nations; however, the environment, perception and design of the ‘rural’ and village society which is a continuum of a different space that we have termed as ‘urban’ is yet to be explored with comparable intensity. In the meantime, it is certain that such a complex subject cannot be understood without a framework; hence, this study attempts to understand ‘rural’ as a nested arrangement of space, people, a social system (not separated from economic and political system), production, development and a way of living where a village society breathes and sustains itself. In that attempt, the study also aims to comprehend the methodology of understanding the rural system and the village society, as this would determine the framework on which the understanding will be constructed. Along with this, the study presents a case methodology for understanding Nepali village from the lens of architecture in order to comprehend the household, environment, social processes and perception of the villagers about their belief, design, production, continuity and change. This study therefore is an introductory understanding of rural and village society and offers a way forward for a more detailed, comprehensive and interlinked understanding of the frameworks discussed here. Keywords Rural • Village • Society • Nepal • Space • Theoretical framework • Methodology
Springer Geography
MainakGhosh Editor
Perception, Design
and Ecology of the
Built Environment
A Focus on the Global South
Springer Geography
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MitjaBrilly, Fac. Civil & Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana,
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NancyHoalst-Pullen, Dept. Geography & Anthropology, Kennesaw State
University,Kennesaw, GA, USA
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University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA
MarkW.Patterson, Dept. Geography & Anthropology, Kennesaw State University,
Kennesaw, GA, USA
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Szombathely, Hungary
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Mainak Ghosh
Perception, Design
and Ecology of the Built
A Focus on the Global South
ISSN 2194-315X ISSN 2194-3168 (electronic)
Springer Geography
ISBN 978-3-030-25878-8 ISBN 978-3-030-25879-5 (eBook)
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Mainak Ghosh
Department of Architecture
Jadavpur University
Kolkata, India
, corrected publication 2020
The particular issues of the Global South need urgent attention for a pluralistic
multifaceted vision of improvement and sustainable development. This book is an
attempt to address this difcult and interdisciplinary topic. Why do the architecture
and built environment of the Global South remain so vastly different from those of
the North, often despite the rich heritage values and signicant spatial inheritance
of the past? The arc of progress seems to have dampened with time and accelerated
during the colonization and after the industrial revolution. Today, globalization,
aided by scientic and technological worldviews, has made the world a smaller,
more known, and accessible place. However, as the chapters in this book show, the
differentiators need careful appraisal. The various divides that exist among territo-
ries marked by political, cultural, and socioeconomic boundaries have impacted
everything that human civilization had ever produced. With the growing intellectual
exchange and media access, there is every reason to assume that these differentia-
tors can be better understood.
The growing usage of the terms Global North and Global South, today, is largely
an attempt to bridge the gaps rather than reinforcing and accepting modes of dif-
ferentiation in the world. There is a need to address a multiplicity of views, and
cross-sectional knowledge needs to be dissipated about the characteristics and crite-
ria of the Global South, so that, rst, the awareness is raised, and, second, forces and
parties join hands to solve problems to make the world a better place to live and
grow in the future. Many of the chapters of this book have been framed in the form
of stories from different parts of the world. These depictions are specic but are
ubiquitous in the developing countries of the world. The presentation of the book is
vivid and catches the attention of the reader, each case study painting a conceptual
picture of typical Global South scenario, irrespective of place specicity. Having
been born and brought up in a developing country and now living in a Global North
country in the Southern Hemisphere for many years, I could relate to this book in a
manner of dual readership, experiencing both dichotomy andunison.
This book is an excellent resource for architects, designers, planners, environ-
mentalists, sociologists, and policy-makers, for it projects the setting of built envi-
ronment in the Global South. Though the book is academic- and research-driven,
an overall read would not be too strenuous for the interested reader or a student
curious to learn about the built characteristics of the developing world. With my
research area encircling around computational techniques in architecture and urban-
ism, I have been fascinated by the simplicity with which the key features of built
environment has been postulated in this book, namely, the environment (ecology),
perception, and design. Overall, the book has harnessed on one or more of these
themes in different chapters of the book fashioning a subtle integration. The inter-
woven characteristics of these themes, with multitude of places and different styles
of writing by the different chapter authors, have given it a form which resonates
with the essence of how the Global South actually exists– diverse, rustic, vibrant,
and perhaps chaotic.
I would contend that this book is but a tiny grain of sand compared to the vast-
ness of the Global South. Large and overwhelmingly diverse, difcult to research
and document, the book is a timely compilation on this important subject matter.
I am certain that this is a ripple which would ambitiously multiply over the coming
SambitDatta Professor, Curtin University
Perth, WA, Australia
The countless anonymous people around me, passer-by encountered while living
my day-to-day life in a developing country, gave me the impetus to frame the book.
Observing the habits and habitat of my fellow inhabitants in the Global South
charged me with the thought that more needed to be explored and documented on
this front. Hence, this is to acknowledge those whom I do not know by name but are
part of this same world, living a life of difference in a substantially dissimilar envi-
ronment than that of the developing nations.
We all reside in a zone of interface of place and people; without place, we do not
exist, and places get their meanings because of people. And this place is to convey
my special humble acknowledgment to the important people in my life supporting
this work.
My sincere expression of gratefulness to all the chapter contributors of this book
from different countries of the world. Without the support and cooperation from all
the authors, it would have been impossible to give a shape to this thought which is
vast and obscured. Discussion with colleagues and friends about the idea of the
book helped me get clearer perspectives: Professor Souvanic Roy had played an
important role in formulating the title of the book and Professor Keya Mitra, Neeta
Das, and Venance in connecting up with the authors from other countries. Thanks
are also due to Professor Sanjib Nag for his support.
I have been fortunate to receive the foreword from Professor Sambit Datta, Curtin
University, who is fondly keen on the developments of the Global South. With his
extended travel experience and expertise on the subject, living in Global North but
originally from Global South, he is perhaps the best person who could review this
My students have been the constant source of inspiration, and I nd it interesting
to learn from them. I especially thank my research scholars, Farha Shermin and
Shreeja Ganguly, for helping me with some of the copy editing part.
I am obliged to the infrastructural support provided by Jadavpur University,
Kolkata, India, where I am attached professionally at present to teach and
research. Also, thanks to my university colleagues and staff. Professor Samantak
Das from the Department of Comparative Literature has been a source of great
I hereby express my humble gratitude and regards to my parents who have been
the silent supporters in all my pursuits. I have lost my mother, Mohua Ghosh, during
the book project. I am grateful to the publisher and authors for staying by my side
patiently, despite the delay in the book project. I dedicate this book to my mother.
I thank my family, Sudipta and Anthea, for their cooperation.
1 Built Environment in Response to the Ecology, Design,
and Perception of the Global South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Mainak Ghosh
2 Urban Transformations of Residential Settlements in Colonial
Towns: Case Study of Chandernagore and Serampore . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Ruchira Das, Sanjib Nag, and Keya Mitra
3 Transformation of Commercial Centres and Urban
Development Process in Global South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Sanghamitra Sarkar, Mainak Ghosh, and Sanjib Nag
4 Issues and Challenges for Transit-Oriented Development
in the Scenario of a Developing Country: The Case
of Kolkata Metropolitan Area, India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Subrata Kr. Paul, Abhinanda Chatterjee, and Souvanic Roy
5 Transportation and Built Environment: Bus-Sense for Global
South Based on a Case for Bringing Back Life in Bus Transport . . . 91
Yogesh Dandekar
6 From Grey to Green: Rethinking Setback and MGC Rules
as a Sustainable Growth Strategy of Residential Areas – A Case
Study of Anannya Residential Area of Chittagong, Bangladesh . . . . 107
Rezuana Islam, Kanu Kumar Das, and Samira Binte Bashar
7 Coastal Climate Readiness and Preparedness: Comparative
Review of the State of Florida and Cuba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Haris Alibašiü and John D. Morgan
8 Post-tsunami Reconstruction and Panchayats: Political Economy
Barriers to Effective Implementation. Independent Consultant and
Urban Environmental Specialist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Savitha Ram Mohan
9 Design for Resilience: Traditional Knowledge in Disaster
Resilience in the Built Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
K. Mitra
10 Sustainable Planning Interventions in Tropical Climate
for Urban Heat Island Mitigation – Case Study of Kolkata . . . . . . . . 167
Santanu Bajani and Debashish Das
11 Factors Leading to Disposal of Toxic and Hazardous Sacred
Waste and Its Effect on Urban River Contamination: Case
of Adi Ganga, Kolkata, India . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Srijita Chakrabarty
12 Spatial Evaluation Supporting Sustainable Tourism
Development in Riverine Global South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265
Shreeja Ganguly, Mainak Ghosh, and Joy Sen
13 Between Mountain and River: A Vernacular
Settlement-Architectural Concept in Indonesian Archipelago . . . . . . 295
Indah Widiastuti
14 Reflection on Rhetorics, Appropriate Building Materials,
and Domestic Utilities Towards Reduction of Housing Costs
in Africa: A Case of Tanzania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311
Moses Felician Moses and Livin Henry Mosha
15 Design, Form, and Ecological Characteristics of the Traditional
Cunda Houses in Anatolia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333
Ayten Erdem
16 Regionalising Contemporary Architecture in a Case
of Global South: Masjid Raya Sumatra Barat
in West Sumatra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 387
Feni Kurniati
17 Spatial Growth of Religious Architecture: Case
of Indian Temples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 401
Soumen Mitra and Mayukh Ch. Sadhukhan
18 Co-existence: Migrated Settlement Redefining Cultural
Heritage – A Case from Bangladesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427
Mohaimeen Islam, Huda Mohammed Faisal, and Md. Tawhidur
19 Altered Perception of Culture: Based on Features
of Pedestrian Experience and Aesthetic Regeneration
of Built Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 447
Tanima Bhattacharya, Suparna Dasgupta, Tushar Kanti Saha, and
Joy Sen
20 Gerontology and Urban Public Spaces of Global South:
Case of China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 473
Saptarshi Kolay
21 Living in Alleys: A Story of Kampung Kota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 487
Achmad Syaiful Lathif
22 Connecting the Past and the Present for a Better Future
of Historic City of Developing Country: Case of Heritage
Walks of Hyderabad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 503
Madhu Vottery
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ and Village Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 519
Abhishek Bhutoria
24 Lively Urban Spaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 535
Mariana de Cillo Malufe Spignardi
25 The Smart City in Relation to Its Environment, Perception,
and Urban Planning Process: Lessons for
Developing Countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 547
Vasiliki Geropanta
26 The Road Ahead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 563
Uttaran Dutta and Mainak Ghosh
Correction to: From Grey to Green: Rethinking Setback and MGC
Rules as a Sustainable Growth Strategy of Residential
Areas – A Case Study of Anannya Residential Area
of Chittagong, Bangladesh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C1
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 569
519© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
M. Ghosh (ed.), Perception, Design and Ecology of the Built Environment,
Springer Geography,
Chapter 23
Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
Abstract Nepal is predominantly characterised and perceived by her rural and vil-
lage societies. It is only about one-fth of the total population that forms the city and
urban spaces. Despite the dominance of rural and its associated historical manifesta-
tion in the Global South, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of what it is or
of what it constitutes or how it is perceived or lived. The rural of South Asia hasn’t
been dened of what it is but of what it is not and the phenomena of ruralism con-
structed on an interlinked social, cultural, political, economic and environmental
matrix; same as of urbanism, still, it nds itself with a reputation of unestablished
discourse. It is certain that urban spaces play a critical role in the contemporary
world and especially in the underdeveloped and developing nations; however, the
environment, perception and design of the ‘rural’ and village society which is a con-
tinuum of a different space that we have termed as ‘urban’ is yet to be explored with
comparable intensity. In the meantime, it is certain that such a complex subject can-
not be understood without a framework; hence, this study attempts to understand
‘rural’ as a nested arrangement of space, people, a social system (not separated from
economic and political system), production, development and a way of living where
a village society breathes and sustains itself. In that attempt, the study also aims to
comprehend the methodology of understanding the rural system and the village soci-
ety, as this would determine the framework on which the understanding will be con-
structed. Along with this, the study presents a case methodology for understanding
Nepali village from the lens of architecture in order to comprehend the household,
environment, social processes and perception of the villagers about their belief,
design, production, continuity and change. This study therefore is an introductory
understanding of rural and village society and offers a way forward for a more
detailed, comprehensive and interlinked understanding of the frameworks discussed
Keywords Rural · Village · Society · Nepal · Space · Theoretical framework ·
A. Bhutoria ()
Independent Researcher, Kathmandu, Nepal
Understanding Rural intheContext ofSpace
‘Rural’ and ‘urban’ are the characteristics of the space that humans through reductionist
logic have categorised. The association to a particular or multiple abstract logic becomes
a belief system on which science is built. This abstract understanding from a singular
perspective to converge the concept of rural and present as a hegemonic explanation is
questioned by the variance of other abstract logic. In order to comprehend the multiple
abstract logic framed under certain parameters or measurements or phenomenon, it
seems crucial to understand the social system of the village through a deductive frame-
work. The rst layer on which the multiple layers act and then command as a cyclic
relation is space. Hence, it is important to understand the space in order to understand
‘rural’. Space is an everyday term yet one of the most complex words to understand.
The word with its constant evolution, denition and practice cannot be understood
without muddling in some labyrinth of complexity. The diversity in the association of
the word space (with personal, social, public, psychic, liminal, metaphorical and more)
gives it a varied multiple contextualities. Hence, the generalisation of the word would
serve no purpose in its understanding as the meaning of it is exclusively conditional
upon the context.
A philosophical discussion of space in Social Justice and the City (Harvey 2009,
pp.13–14) explains space in a tripartite division. The absolute space is a permanent
and immovable entity, which is independent in nature and is a ‘thing in itself’. It
then acquires a structure, which can be understood as a relationship between objects
that relate to each other building a relative space. The nal layer of space is the
relational space where ‘processes do not occur in space but dene their own spatial
frame’ and internal relations and external inuences are the integrals of the specic
process of a time frame. The tripartite division of the space seems to have a hierar-
chy, the relational space can comprise the relative and the absolute, the relative
space can comprise the absolute, but the absolute space is just absolute. For instance,
a house is a physical and legal unit that is built on absolute space; however, the posi-
tion of that absolute space given its location is dependent on the relative space with
respect to services, livelihood, activities, recreation and people. However, it is fur-
ther associated with relational space that is the social, cultural and cosmic relations,
memories, desires and sentiments and more. So, to comprehensively understand the
house or for say other space or form, it is crucial to understand the three forms of
spatiotemporality simultaneously.
In this understanding, Halfacree (1993, p.26) debates that the absolute form of
space has ‘no inherent powers’, whereby spaces do possess causal power, and
hence are not absolute. A spatial establishment may generate social practices, but
it cannot be reduced to the ‘sum of relationships’ between the objects and hence is
not relative. However, space and spatial relations are both languages of fundamen-
tal structures and a means of creation; hence, space is produced and space is a
resource (Smith 1984). Space as per Lefebvre’s theory (Lefebvre 1992) is also
divided into three material space (experienced), representations of space (con-
ceptualised) and spaces of representation (lived). The material space for humans is
A. Bhutoria
the space of experience and perception of physical and sensual interaction with
matter. The representations of space are the appropriate abstract representation of
the material realities conceived physically and sensually. And the spaces of repre-
sentation are the lived spaces of sensations, the imagination and emotions of the
way we live in the world. This complex understanding of space invites us to con-
sider the ways we organically, perceptually and symbolically shape our environ-
ment and the ways in which we both represent and get to live it. Hence, it is critical
to understand the production of space, which Molotch explains in reviewing The
production of space by Lefebvre
Humans create the space in which they make their lives; it is a project shaped by interests
of classes, experts, the grassroots, and other contending forces. Space is not simply inher-
ited from nature, or passed on by the dead hand of the past, or autonomously determined by
‘laws’ of spatial geometry…. Space is produced and reproduced through human intentions,
even if unanticipated consequences also develop, and even as space constraints and inu-
ences those producing it. (Molotch 1993, p.887)
The production also indicates that space should be considered comparable to
another economic good. The space as goods and services is capable of generating the
economy, and the economy, in turn, is capable of generating spaces. Space contains
more than we ordinarily appreciate– it is neither merely a medium nor a list of ingre-
dients but an interlinkage of geographic form, built environment, symbolic meanings
and routines of life. Space is produced for two purposes, domination and appropria-
tion. The space produced for domination is put to the service of some abstract pur-
pose to express power and strength, whereas space produced for appropriation is
carved into forms of exchange in the market so as to be interchangeable as commodi-
ties. The resultant space represents the “triumph of homogeneity” as Lefebvre men-
tions it and stands, both in its totality and in its constituent part as a product.
Marx’s later writings reect his belief in a tripartite basis of capitalism: the earth,
along with labour and capital, replacing the binary opposition of labour and capital.
Lefebvre states that ‘Marxism should be treated as one moment in the development
of theory and not, dogmatically, as a denitive theory’ (Lefebvre 1992, p. 321).
Lefebvre argues this on a number of grounds. Capitalism now has laid “its imprint
upon the total occupation of all pre-existing space and upon the production of new
space” (Lefebvre 1992, p.326). Capitalism has spread so globally, so deep into the
earth and so far into outer space that it threatens nature itself. Lefebvre exclaims that
‘along with God, nature is dying’, and he asks whether ‘by destroying nature and
nature’s time, (is) there not a danger that the economic sphere, fetishized as the
world market, along with the space that it determines, and the political sphere made
absolute, might destroy their own foundation– namely land, space, town and coun-
try – and thus in effect self-destruct?’ (Lefebvre 1992, p.326).
The space as a resource for the production of social, physical or mental space is
dependent upon the capacity, tendencies and constraints of humans. These spaces
generate the possibilities for variation in the human action, and the action of humans
on the spaces facilitates or restricts the reproduction or transformation of the spaces.
This cycle in the continuity creates diversity and complex spaces. However, in the
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
mode of understanding rural on the framework of space as product and resource, the
existence of human agency is unduly overlooked (Sayer 1989, p.267).
As there are multiple abstract sets of logic to understand rural, the logic of under-
standing it as space has also been criticised while also being celebrated. In the
course of understanding rural through a framework or a concept, it is important to
understand the limitation and criticism of it. The generalisation of rural solely
through this concept condenses the richness of complexity and diversity of a society
(Gould and Olsson 1982). Also, this conceptualisation fails to appreciate the dyna-
mism of space (Halfacree 1993) and understanding and treating the society and
space as a dualism rather than as duality (Giddens 1986). In the process of produc-
tion and as the state of resource, it is important to explore the ways in which rurality
is constructed and deployed in a variety of contexts (Murdoch and Pratt 1993,
p.423). On the same principle, the concept of space raises the question of hege-
mony and power and how the power relation conditions the production, transferring
and receiving capacity of the tangible and non-tangible space and “… which or
whose spaces matter and what power relations are embedded in these particular
discourses of space and locality” (Pratt 1991, p.264).
Understanding Rural intheContext of‘Social’
Nepal is principally a rural nation, where most of its population live in villages and
sustain their lives on agriculture. For the majority of Nepalese, villages are home,
community, the very circumstances of daily life and a social centre to which they
are intimately connected (Pigg 1992, p.491). So, what does the village represent to,
in contemporary Nepalese environment? In the social science discourse, the term
rural in a paradigmatic sense linked with empirico-positivism is conceptually a sub-
ordinate to the denition of urban; it is whatever is non-urban in character. Along
with that the statistical variable of socio-spatial characteristics that represents the
essence of rural through the population, land use, employment, housing condition
and migration helps in dening and understanding rural (Pandey 2003, p.34).
On these principles, villages of Nepal are neither bazaars (local trading centres),
district centres (regional centre for government ofces and agencies) nor towns (pop-
ulation strength much higher than either). This classication of space allows a statis-
tical understanding, for instance, the rural population of Nepal in 2018 accounted to
80.26% as compared to 97% in 1960 (The World Bank 2018), and the level of urban-
isation was 18.2% in 2014 (UN DESA 2014). The 2011 census indicates that Nepal’s
demographic prole is changing rapidly, and the rural-urban classication is coded
into the census gures. This coding leads to a reasonably obvious conclusion that
what isn’t urban is rural. This approach in an attempt to create a geographical and
populace distinction between urban and rural further questions ‘ precisely what
population does a rural area become urban?’ (Woods 2005, p.5) and does the geo-
graphical urban starts immediately after geographical rural, or is there a transition or
a continuum? For Nepal, there isn’t a clear distinction; one nds a strong rural char-
A. Bhutoria
acter (geographical and people) in the urban fabric and vice versa. There are numer-
ous examples to quote for such scenarios in one of the fastest urbanising nations, yet
quite rural in their character (Bhaktapur, Kirtipur, Namche Bazar, Jiri). However, this
coexistence exists in the form of transition, continuum and relation.
In the rural versus urban dualism (Pandey 2003) and the idea of the country and
the city (Williams 1973), both authors discuss urban and rural as a continuum and
relational. On a sociological construct, the understanding of villages in Nepal
through universal or self-evident rural-urban dichotomy can be a precarious method.
The census distinction of rural and urban limits the understanding to gures, and
hence the dynamics of the relationship, transition and perception are crucial to
understand their physical and social forms.
Rural as socially constructed brings attention towards the phenomenological
understanding. The subjective construction of the reality of rural diverging from the
determinism of structure-functionalism emphasise on the way people perceive and
react to the experiences of the physical and social settings in which they live. The
experiences of urban as dynamic, unstable and rational and it’s opposite rural as
stable, integrated and traditional question the oversimplication of urbanity and
rurality; in rural areas, urban societies can exist and the other way around (Young
and Wilmott 1957, in Woods 2005). It is in the sense of what people think is rural;
it exists because it is an establishment of communal experiences, meanings and
culture (Pandey 2003).
However, in the course of understanding rural, it is also understood as social rela-
tions of production, as villages are often the spring that feeds the urban areas. On
the contrary, both doctrines of rural-urban classication and the subjective construc-
tion of rural, this approach, with an orthodox Marxist construct, stresses on the
structural process associated to capital use and power distribution in agriculture
(Pandey 2003; Davidson 2014). The spirit of rural is agriculture, and the production
and capital associated with it determines the differences in geographical areas, pop-
ulace and living and hence allowing to understand rural from another perspective.
Understanding Rural intheContext ofDevelopment
In Nepal, the understanding of the village doesn’t advance on the ground of com-
parison with the city but in relation to development (or bikas as termed in Nepali).
The term bikas, historically and socially, is comprehended in the context of Nepal
and should not be confused with the theories and framework of development dis-
cussed by international institutions (Pigg 1992, p.495). However, both the terms
differ in its meaning because of the context; they are not completely distinct. The
inuence of the philosophy of the international form of development has contested
the concepts of the villages of Nepal. For Nepalese, the ideology of development in
the village comes through social relationship, the relationship between local com-
munities and other places to progress. The progress and development has a magni-
tude and depending on that, the understanding of the social territories, transitions
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
and relationships can be established. Development can vary from new varieties of
seeds and breeds of goats to hydroelectricity plants and highway roads. It is the
afliation to the type of ideology and degree of development that brings the distinc-
tion and image of a place.
For me, India begins and ends in the villages (Gandhi 1979in Jodhka 2002, p.3343). The
old Indian social structure which, has so powerfully inuenced our people, was based on
three concepts: the autonomous village community; caste and the joint family system
(Nehru 1946in Jodhka 2002, p.3343). The Hindu village is the working plant of the Hindu
social order. One can see there the Hindu social order in operation in full swing (Ambedkar,
in Moon 1979). For Gramsci, the peasantry would remain in the foreseeable future as a
signicant political force; their ethos and values would, therefore, have to be incorporated
in any Marxist theory of transition and socialism; and developmentalism or modernisation
would have to be re-examined as a core part of the Marxist strategy. (Davidson 2014, p.139)
All four discussed village in the context of the civilisation and development, but
the way they understood and presented village was on different principles. Gandhi
celebrated Indian village life and saw the village as a political symbol of the repub-
lic. He perceived village life as the essence of India. The reformist vision of Gandhi
advocated the need for reconstructing and reviving the ‘essential spirit’ of village
life, which is harmonious and self-sufcient, uncontaminated by the modernisation
of the city and technology. Nehru perceived Indian village as ‘a new picture of India,
which is naked, starving, crushed and utterly miserable. He believed “village repub-
lic” had long degenerated due to various ills, which is a consequence of internal
differences in the rural society challenging its unity and equality’. Unlike Gandhi,
Nehru saw no merits in reconstructing and reviving the traditional social order and
the essence of the village, but his modernist vision wanted to transform the village
social and economic structure by using new technology and innovative mechanisms
for development. His aim for transforming the village was built on social security,
stability and continuance of the rural. Ambedkar criticised the idea of the village and
stated that village republics have been the ruination of India. He perceived village as
a sink of localism; a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalist; and a
model of Hindu social organisation. He strongly condemned the thought of recognis-
ing the village republic as a legal structure of India as it would bring a great calamity.
He believed that the emergence of Dalit from its present condition didn’t lie in the
revival of the village or for a say in the development of the village. He imagined a
‘subaltern view’ of the village, which escapes the caste structure of the village.
Gramsci, from a developmentalist position, prior to the rise of fascism believed
that as a prerequisite to socialism, there should be the alliance of the workers of the
factory and countryside (village) through self-establishment of the organisation,
which is the approach for socialist civilisation. However, with the rise of fascism,
Gramsci realised the peasants won’t disappear with the development of capitalism,
and there would be no initiation for transformation without them. This type of devel-
opment brought advancement and backwardness simultaneously, and the benets of
such advancement mostly rested with the power of the industrial capitalist. For a
progressive collective conscious development of the peasants, their folklore should
be studied as a ‘view of the world’, as an impulse of the life which they have been
A. Bhutoria
living and will continue to live and as something outside ‘modern currents of thought’
(Gramsci in Davidson 2014, p.38). The obvious truth of modernity penetrating every
stratum of the society would have inltrated the traditional wisdom and conservative
qualities. However, this modernity in the traditional system could also be a current of
innovations and should be conditioned for the development of the space. For Gramsci
and Gandhi, the future didn’t lie in the modern cities, but on the popular town and
country (village).
The world as a course of history is built on the concept of development, produc-
tion, reproduction and survival; and it was dominantly the country (village) that saw
the process. Though it is now the cities and urban societies that are more associated
with the concept of development because of its magnitude, it has not disappeared
from the village. The village crystallises into a different social category in the con-
text of the concept of development. The idea of understanding the village from the
concept of development is to interlink the construct of society, culture, economics
and politics. These aspects as an interlinked system from the lens of development
determine the life for the villagers who seek to grow and progress. The magnitude,
approach and understanding of development or progress, in turn, mark the social
identities and differences, cultural practices, economic aspirations, political aflia-
tion and in short, the way of living of village society.
Understanding Rural asaWay ofLife
Despite the preponderant signicance of the villages in Nepal, our knowledge and
understanding of rural and village society are meager. There have been attempts to
understand the characteristics of rural life and village society. However, researchers
from different disciplines and agenda offer understanding in view of their respective
discipline. The characterisation of society as rural solely on the basis of size or den-
sity or the classication of it under an administrative structure is certainly arbitrary.
The association of space with rural characteristics based on the physical entity and
development also limits the understanding to mere rigid tangible parameters, which
doesn’t offer an adequate conception of rural as a way of life. However, with no
intent to supersede, these and many other approaches, the formulation of under-
standing rural and village society comprehensively through a sociological approach
that attempts to emphasise on the interrelations between different approaches, can
offer a better understanding of it as a social entity.
The fundamental concern of the sociologist of the village is to discover the
forms of social action, customs, habits, relations and beliefs that typically emerge
in the society and settlements of heterogeneous individuals and sometimes a close-
knit homogenous society. These aspects determine the way the villagers live their
life, and hence understanding those aspects will enable to understand the rural and
village society. Hence, this section will attempt to present an understanding of rural
and village society as a way of life by interrelating space, society and development.
Although it is certain that this will present only the essential characteristics that
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
different villages of Nepal have in common as social entities, the specic character-
istics can be further developed as a way forward in this study.
Nepalese villages can be located in the splendid peaks of pure white Himalayas
or totally immersed in the green of the serene rolling hills or in the plain beauty of
plains. Shaping themselves on the steep of mountains, dense jungle, trails of culti-
vated steps, banks of rapid owing white-water river or on the ats of the plains, the
villages possess a power of its own kind from the absoluteness of its geography
which to an extent determines the way of life. However, regardless of this power of
geography, in the close-knit communities of the villages, the relationships emerge
through its architecture and material through peoples’ association with public and
private spaces; through the emotions, sensations and attachment associated with
space; and through the heterogeneous mix of the ethnicity/caste of the villagers.
These relationships are the binding factor for any space but especially for the vil-
lages. The relationship of villagers with the external environment was mostly
reected through agriculture or related activity, while with human beings, it was
facilitated through caste, language and cultural practices.
Nepali villages are generally self-dependent, and there is little evidence of other
world. The meaning of development and growth is very different for the villagers.
There are limited shops or none at all; electricity and running water are still a dream
for many, and there is little or no sign of the government or police or health workers. If
a Nepali villager wants something, they generally get or do it themselves, to the extent
that they cut mountains in a traditional way and build connectivity; education comes at
the cost of traveling 1–3h across mountains and rivers, and hospitals are hours apart,
and many die on the way. However, there are certainly some exceptions where the
inuence of other world due to tourism has changed the dynamics of a village, and
these villages sometimes happen to be the face of all the villages due to publicity.
Among such perfections and imperfections, what remains common in most vil-
lages is the preoccupation with agriculture, land and other objects or occasions
either incidental to or derived from agriculture (Srinivas 1976). For most villagers,
agriculture is the way of life; it is the source of living, social and economic relations
and daily activities. There is a hierarchy in the system of agriculture where there are
landowners, tenants, sharecroppers, labourers and servants. However, this hierarchy
is more prevalent in the Terai villages of Nepal. In the villages of hills and valley, it’s
generally the family members who take the responsibility of the land and produc-
tion. This can be possible because of the less rigid occupation-based caste structure
in the villages of hills and valley, which however were quite pertinent decades back.
The process of production isn’t an easy task; in the majority of the villages, there
isn’t a shimmering and shiny John Deere or Mahindra tractor pulling an equally
modern plough. It is the water buffalo that pulls a wooden plough, which is con-
trolled by the males of the house, while the females work in the rice paddies that is
more exhaustive and labour-intensive. This is the result of cultural practices where
much of the labour-intensive task like padding the rice eld, taking the produce
from the elds which are near to the river banks to the houses in the hills, collecting
rewood and water, washing clothes, cooking and pretty much everything related to
household are done by the women in the household. The males are generally arti-
A. Bhutoria
sans, construction worker, service providers and labourers and are involved in poli-
tics of village. The understanding of gender and the differences between the role of
male and female in the rural communities will bring the understanding of social
order, social structure and functioning of the village.
The economic system like anywhere else, but exclusively in the village, cannot be
seen in isolation from the social and cultural system of the village. “If the principles
of economics are to have a predictive value, social institutions of which economic
activities are a part should form the background of economic studies” (Aiyappan
1945, p.86). The economic system is a construct of space, social relations, produc-
tion and development. In the economic system of a village, the land occupies the key
position, though there can be a group which is land deprived, who either work as
agricultural labourers or have a small ‘non-farm’ occupation for livelihood (such as
small retail shops, repair centres, tailoring store, etc.). However, the land with its
monetary value does not limit itself purely to economic frontiers but reacts to social
relations, especially one connected to the power of production and ultimately status.
The status and power of the villagers, to a great extent, is dened by the size and
quality of landholdings. The use of this status and power for the development/growth
of the village is very contextual from village to village and is at the level of individu-
als or a few collective people. However, the discussion on the development of village
highlights and questions the role of government and its governance system.
The question raised is the consequences of the political instability within Nepal.
This instability, especially in the last three decades, has been a result of the insur-
gency of the Maoist movement for the economically backward parts of the country
(dominantly villages) where the worst legacy of the caste system and prolonged
ignorance of the government changed the dynamics of the village in their social
relationship and order, functioning and development. In Nepal, democracy and its
benets came to people in district centres and towns and to the people with ostenta-
tious voices. Village people had no idea what democracy is or feels like, and eventu-
ally the apparent democratic state was viewed as system alienated from the aspirations
and needs of rural individuals (Shneiderman 2009). However, this political conict
has plunged much of the villager’s life into chaos and difculties, be it prior to the
insurgency or after. The political instability, economic distress, social conict and
development crisis in totality has affected the villagers and their way of living.
Methodology ofUnderstanding aVillage/Rural Society
In an attempt to comprehend the methodology of understanding a village/rural society
or as conventionally called ‘village studies’, this section aims to identify how agenda
determines the methods, which methods are adopted for it and how it should be shep-
herded. The history of village studies has brought varied theoretical impulses, meth-
odological approaches and eccentric and conventional stories of the life of people in
the village. Depending upon the purpose of research, a village study is either descrip-
tive, exploratory or explanatory, and these studies were carried out as part of duties of
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
the government for the census and administration, to understand village economy and
to understand traditional social life and culture, village structure and social relations,
for political agendas and for development projects. Each method determined by the
agenda is further controlled by the position we take as researchers. Hence, the posi-
tion, the agenda and the methods together formulate the research design.
The research is a process of acquiring knowledge using a ‘scientic’ method. The
association to a specic scientic thought or school of thought determines the type
of research conducted and methods adopted. For a researcher, it is crucial to be
aware of their association with the school of thought. The school of thought can vary
from rationalism (systematic logical reasoning, philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, and
Socrates), empiricism (empirical activity rather than reasoning activity, Baconian
method), natural philosophy (the philosophy of nature and physical universe, Galileo
Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton), idealism (experience is purely subjective, Kant’s phi-
losophy), positivism (blend of rationalism and empiricism, Auguste Comte), anti-
positivism (qualitative method, interpretive sociologists), post-positivism (knowledge
based on tentative conjectures which can never be proven conclusively, but only
disproven, Karl Popper), and critical research (criticism to antipositivism, critiquing
and not just understanding, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels).
The research design is the process through which research is conducted and in
turn is fashioned by our mental constructs or belief systems, which we use to sys-
tematise our reasoning and observations (Bhattacherjee 2012). These mental con-
structs or belief systems are called paradigms, the term popularized by Kuhn (1962).
The term ‘social reality’ is perceived and further comprehended by different people
in different ways based on both their thinking and reasoning (or say their paradigm),
and this association to one paradigm limits the knowledge of that particular school.
The judgement and ability to understand is based on the ‘lens worn’ or the position
taken by the researcher and most importantly as to what the individual infers from
what he sees in the world. The research design that builds on multiple paradigms for
holistic learning is a very idealistic scenario; however, one should be aware of dif-
ferent schools of thought and paradigms while conducting a study.
In social science research, the two popular paradigms are positivism and post-
positivism. The principle of positivism is that the construction of science and knowl-
edge should be limited to what can be observed, measured and tested. The logic of it
is that the research must be able to prove or disapprove and anything that is extended
or reasoned beyond observable and measurable facts doesn’t qualify for scientic
research. The strictness and the empiricist nature of positivist philosophy led to the
emergence of post-positivism. The principle on which post-positivism builds its
argument is, science and knowledge can be constructed on logical reasoning, criti-
cism and subjectivity. The phenomenon can be studied and understood by combin-
ing empirical observations with logical reasoning built on the subjective construct.
Burrell and Morgan (1979) suggested that there are two fundamental sets of
philosophical assumptions that shape the study of social phenomena, which is
ontology and epistemology. Ontology refers to our assumptions about how we see
the world and knowledge; for instance, is the world or knowledge a construct of
social order or constant change? While epistemology refers to our assumptions
A. Bhutoria
about how do we study the world and obtain knowledge, is it through a subjective
or an objective approach to studying social phenomena? The model of social sci-
ence research of Burrell and Morgan (1979, p.22) suggests four paradigms based
on the ontological and epistemological position of the researcher: functionalism,
radical structuralism, radical humanism and interpretivism. The paradigm of func-
tionalism is adopted if the world and knowledge are perceived as social order and
the knowledge of patterns of social order, events or behaviours are obtained using
objective approach, whereas interpretivism is a construct of the same worldview but
with a subjective approach. The paradigm of radical structuralism is a construct of
radical change and objective approach; however if the social order is understood
using the subjective perspective, it is a radical humanism paradigm.
The study of village/rural society can be constructed on any of the mentioned
paradigms. However, in the context of such studies, the paradigms of functionalism
and radical structuralism or jointly called as positivism were more prevalent prior to
the 1950s. The research rested content with the observation, measurements and cal-
culations of censuses, reports and administrators survey of villages. Later to that
period, the discourse underwent a change; there seemed a paradigm shift from the
domination of structural-functionalism to a combination of structural-functionalism
and interpretative-humanism jointly called as post-positivism. The paradigm of
post-positivism accepted the relation of the theory and the description and the sub-
jective interpretation in research. However, training in research methodology was
still focused on survey techniques, elementary statistics, questionnaires and scaling.
Many of the research then and now still rely on data collected by various agencies,
organisations and committees of government, the UN and scholars. What this results
into is the rise of a school of thought where there are groups of manual labourers
(data gatherers), administrators (number crunchers) and potentates (elite theoreti-
cians, practitioners, ofcials and intellectuals) who with an approach of problem-
solving negate the understanding of the village and people by coming in close
contact with the space and the people of concern.
The lack of a eld-work tradition in the social sciences, excluding social anthropology and
sociology, has had adverse results on their growth and development. Most important, it has
alienated them from grassroots reality and led to fanciful assumptions about the behaviour
of ordinary people. It has realized in woeful ignorance about the complex interaction of
economic, political and social forces at local levels. (Srinivas 1975, p.1389)
However, even anthropologists and sociologists depending more on the eld-
work tradition(s) shy away from empiricism of the positivist school establishing
the validity of the case studies and qualitative narratives. Hence, it is perhaps thus
not the education but the dominance of certain methods that subverts other meth-
ods. In the meantime, the methods applied to understand the village underplay the
importance of understanding the villagers and their life and community. The vil-
lage communities have their own logic, resources, intellectuality and power; and
hence rather than applying methods just to build our understanding of the village,
it is also crucial that methods allow to understand how villagers perceive their life
and community. This will allow looking at the research from the plural lens rather
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
than a singular lens of the researcher. Also, scientic reductionism that tends to
close the scope of complex understanding and yet celebrate objectivity will be
challenged by the complexity of multiple understanding and layers of the village
society rather than getting stuck with objectivity, linearity and rigidity.
The image of the village and villagers is only a caricature and untrue until they
are rst-hand observed, recorded, lived and understood. The disconnect between
eld research and theory has led to the misunderstanding of our villages. Village
studies have a strong relation with the social environment, unlike natural science.
When the study comprises of people, culture, society and their function, it is inevi-
table to work and develop a comprehensive understanding without a combination of
eld research and theory, interaction/observation and interpretation, and also, func-
tionalism and structuralism play a critical role in substantiating the understanding.
A Case ofMethodology forUnderstanding Nepali Village
fromIts Built Form
In contemporary sociology, the concept of structure and agency aims to progress
from the idea of ‘dualism of structure and agency’ to the ‘duality of structure’, in
which social structure is both the instrument and the product of social action, and
the mutual construct of these two independent entities must comprehend time-space
relation for all social interaction (Giddens 1986). The interaction of the agent and
the structure is not a succession of separate acts but a continuum of social actions in
a social system, which is located in time-space. The social action, which is depen-
dent on spatial and temporal conguration, produces and reproduces under the
structure that is employed in the social system. Under the same principle, the
research aims to study the social structure and social action that is the household
and social life through the structure that is the built form. The social structure that
is the household is composite of two components, which are not two separate enti-
ties but relational the ‘pattern of interaction’ (relation between members of the
household and the relation between the households) and the ‘continuity of interac-
tion’ in time that results as social life.
“… while the household is conceived of as a specic combination of social rela-
tions– a kinship morphology and several distinct spheres of practice (production,
distribution, transmission, reproduction and coresidence)”, the understanding of
this social structure through the combination of the social ingredients mentioned is
not holistic in its approach to understand the social life of the village (Gray 1995,
p.21). To identify the holism and particularity of the social experiences of the vil-
lage, the structure, the agency and the social action of individuals will need to be
comprehended from the conception of the relation between parts and whole rather
than blocks which minimises the importance of wider structure and social system of
society as a whole. This complexity of inside-outside approach in relating the inter-
A. Bhutoria
nal structure of the household with the external structure of the village is precisely
the opportunity such study should engage with.
In order to attempt this ethnographic study, the research from an ethnographic strat-
egy aims to build from villagers’ experience and understanding of their household and
life in it and consequently move out to the other territories of their society and social
life. This account from the ‘inside-out’ approach uses a family of methods under the
shade of ethnography methodology, which involves direct and sustained contact with
the villagers within the context of their daily lives and culture. However, in order to
carry out the ‘inside-out’ method, a preliminary research needs to be conducted in
order to nd a representative example(s) that will voice for larger faction. The method
for such preliminary architectural investigation has been outlined by Carter and
Cromley (2014) as preliminary survey, architectural documentation, taking photo-
graphs, measured drawings, recording a building and reading the physical fabric.
Once the representative is established through observing what happens and what
is present, recording and documenting of the form, listening to what is said and ask-
ing questions to determine the accountability of the representative(s), there will be
three objectives of the research. First one is to observe and understand the belief and
practice of the household in their house and how their life is shaped by it. Second,
is to establish and analyse the rationale of architecture practices and processes that
determine certain form and function and in turn a certain way of a social and cul-
tural system. The third is to critically examine the change and continuity in the
process of production of the built environment and its impact on the household and
social and cultural dynamics of the village.
To observe, understand, analyse, establish and critically examine the same, this
ethnographic study will request mixed methods of data collection and interpretive
techniques (participant observation, unstructured and in-depth interviews, still,
audio, written and visual documentation) to get maximum of villager’s experiences
for the mentioned objectives. People with a historical or traditional continuity of
resources and lifestyle often hold an indigenous knowledge system. This knowledge
system has been built through a long series of observations and practices transferred
from generation to generation. Such ‘diachronic’ knowledge is of great value and in
the meantime difcult to extract, as it is well embedded in the lives and experiences
of the people. Hence, a considerable time in the context with the people needs to be
devoted in order to develop a reliable medium for disclosure of the real world of the
villagers, which would manifest the understanding of the human society under study.
In the meantime, the critical aspect of this and as a matter of fact for any ethno-
graphic research is the process of writing down and writing up, which is equally and
importantly a part of the methodology. The phases of writing down, analysis and
writing up are distinct phases of the research process that are indistinguishably
interlinked (O’Reilly 2005; Atkinson 2007). The process of writing down will incor-
porate taking notes of setting, observed practices and activities, what villagers have
said and overheard conversations among the villagers, transcribing the interviews
conducted and translating the recordings (audio, still and video). The mass of data
that will be collected from the methods applied and the written down notes will be
summarised and categorised to tell a story of what was seen and heard. But, in the
23 Understanding ‘Rural’ andVillage Society
meantime the study aims to go further than the description and analyse the data that
will try to reect upon the how and the why of the occurrences, practices and phe-
nomenon of the human society under study. The framework that’s been discussed in
detail in previous sections will offer the guidance for the analysis and also the con-
ceptualisation and formalisation of the summarised data as a narrative. However,
these predetermined frameworks are by no means complete in sense as the research
is open to add/develop new concepts in order to incorporate the ndings that emerge
out of the study, which has not been considered. The process of writing up will be in
the form of narration, interpretation and presentation of the ndings and analysis.
The writing technique/style will reect on accounts that are to be delivered. When
describing the ndings of the everyday practices, actions and the setting, which hap-
pens in social time that includes past and present, past tense will be used. However,
when a reexive stance will be taken while interpreting and presenting, present
tense will be used to reect the interpretive voice and the knowledge that will emerge
in the process of understanding the human society while writing up this ethnogra-
phy. The entire presentation of the research will be supported by photographs and
sketches which will allow presenting the human society ‘as life as it is lived’.
The everyday world of practices, that is motivated action, takes place in the con-
text of space, social time that includes past, present and future which results as a
way of life in the understanding of life progressing. And this everyday world of
practices is everyday life, and it is the domestic life for the villagers. The establish-
ment of understanding such a complex relation rejects the reductionism of domestic
life into parts, which are then studied as simple building blocks of a complex whole.
It rather proposes that the parts which build up a whole are just as complex as the
whole domestic life itself. In order to appreciate that complexity, a methodology
(ethnography) that constitutes a family of methods (participant observation; unstruc-
tured and in-depth interviews; focus group discussion; written, audio and video
documentation) allows to comprehend the multifaceted subject of understanding the
society. The framework established can be applied at a range of multiple hierarchies
from an individual to household, to cluster to a village(s), and it is those methods
mentioned that will come in practice when dealing with those multiple scales.
The tendencies to discuss ‘rural’ as known review only the concept and neglect any
questions of its reality and complexity (Falk and Pinhey 1978). It is only so far as an
introductory study; the understanding of rural and village society has built a founda-
tion to understand the village society as a compound of multiple theories, concept
and realities. These few theories, concepts and realities are further perceived and
presented from different positions, which gives an opportunity to engage with the
multiple realities of the village in multiple possibilities. There is a realization that
quest for any single, one comprehensive denition, which embraces all the aspects
A. Bhutoria
of rural and village society, is neither feasible nor desirable or appropriate. In no
point in time, space is xed, and knowledge is universally neutral. Hence, the dyna-
mism of space and different logics of abstraction and power bring the rural as space,
representation of space, a social representation, a subjective construction of experi-
ences, development (bikas), and way of living, and certainly there are more multiple
frameworks on which it could be comprehended. Rural is a complex abstract, and
village societies are an amalgamation of multiple spatial layers, temporal evolution,
and emotions and experiences. Thus, the breadth and depth of complexity of the
subject cannot be captured in one such brief study. However, this introductory study
to understand rural and village society and the methodological co-ordinates of the
conventional village studies tradition enables to build a foundation for a future study
that aims to understand the historical evolution, cultural matrix and social structure
which gives the shape to the village society of present.
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A. Bhutoria
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Dans cet article, l'A s'interesse a la construction sociale de la notion de ruralite. L'A revient sur le discours des sciences sociales concernant le monde rural et les theories sociales contemporaines, pour critiquer les conceptions dualistes materielles-culturelles, sociales-spatiales et rurales-urbaines. L'A propose ici une relecture de Premchand Go-dan depassant ainsi le dualisme etabli, esprit-corps, tradition et modernite
This book is about Rampura, a multi-caste village in princely Mysore (now part of Karnataka) as it was in 1948, the year when M. N. Srinivas did fieldwork there. As so often in human affairs, and in scholarly and scientific history, an accident opens the path to a solution; in this case, a fire that destroyed the author's notes led him to write this book. Professor Srinivas's monograph, based on the human mind's extraordinary capacity to bring forth significant details of the past, is a major ethnographic portrait woven from a sea of original data and purposeful seeking after a description of a village in its own terms. The book's success suggests people should not let accidents and failures destroy one's art. The importance of the its study could not be overstated as caste represented a unique form of social stratification, and millions of human beings had ordered their lives according to it for over two millennia. The book describes Rampura's village life, agriculture, the sexes, relation between castes, classes and factions, and the quality of social relations.