Status and Sacredness: A General Theory of Status Relations and an Analysis of Indian Culture / Edition 1

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Status and Sacredness provides a new theory of status and sacral relationships and a provocative reinterpretation of the Indian caste system and Hinduism. Milner shows how in India and many other social contexts status is a key resource, and that sacredness can be usefully understood as a special form of status. By analyzing the nature of this resource Milner is able to provide powerful explanations of the key features of the social structure, culture, and religion. He argues against the widely held view that the Indian caste system is best understood as a unique cultural development, demonstrating that many of the seemingly exotic features are variations on themes common to other societies. Milner's analysis is rooted in a new theoretical framework called "resource structuralism" that helps to clarify the nature and significance of power and symbolic capital. The book thus provides a bold new analysis of India, an innovative approach to the analysis of religion, and an important contribution to social theory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One of the very best books by a sociologist published in recent years. Profound and significant, both for scholars and educated lay people. A must read for all interested in the subject and its numerous implications."—Amitai Etzioni, author of The Spirit of Community

"A distinguished and superior piece of sociological analysis which is bound to elicit enthusiastic responses by readers in sociology but also in other social science domains as well as in schools of theology. I believe much of what he has to say is bound to influence scholars who will come after him."—Lewis A. Coser, SUNY Stony Brook and Boston College

"Milner's analysis of Indian society has the comprehensiveness and depth of a masterwork. The book bears favorable comparison with Louis Dumont's Homo Hierarchicus, the modern classic on this topic. It is likewise an important work of general theory, examining India as a crucial case where the principles of the status order may be seen in their most extreme form, and laying bare the nature of struggle over the appropriation of status resources."—Randall Collins, University of California, Riverside

"This elegant and imaginative construction of a general theory of status via a detailed study of the caste system displays sustained argumentation of a high order. It wouldn't be extravagant to compare it with Durkheim's theory of the religious life. The difference is that Milner takes the most complex, instead of the most elementary, case."—David Lockwood, University of Essex

"Probably destined to become a major work in the sociology of religion....Tightly reasoned and schematic, this book will likely interest a broad array of scholars concerned with the relation of religion to social inequality. Certainly it is the most ambitious new interpretation of caste to appear since the competing theories of Louis Dumont and McKim Marriott, which have dominated the scholarly discussion about Hindu society for the past twenty-five years. Recommended for all academic libraries."—Religious Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195084894
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

A Note on Foreign Words
1 Introduction 3
2 Theoretical Concepts 18
3 A Theory of Status Relationships: Key Elements 29
4 Key Features of Indian Society: What Is to Be Explained 42
5 Explaining the Key Features of Caste 53
6 The Social Categories of Traditional India 63
7 The Articulation of Status and Material Resources: Political and Economic Legitimacy 80
8 A Theory of Status Relationships: Additional Elements 97
9 Cultural Codes and Rituals: I 106
10 Cultural Codes and Rituals: II 124
11 Status Relations in Marriage Alliances 143
12 On the Nature of Sacredness 163
13 The Worship of Gods 172
14 Salvation and Soteriology 189
15 Eschatology 204
16 Conclusions 228
Glossary 243
Notes 257
Bibliography 303
Index 324
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