Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Professor Cyril Levitt


Sociological studies of Indian social change are hard to come by. Only a few concerned sociologists have justly studied social change in India, and they have done so from the traditional methodological and theoretical standpoint of the Sociology of Modernization. None of them, however, focussed on social change in colonial India per se; neither did they adequately point out and illustrate the immense historical significance and specificity of colonial social change.

The present study seeks to remedy these deficiencies. It is argued, first, that the historical significance of Indian social change consists in the dependent (i.e. retarded) development of capitalism in India during the period of colonialism (1757-1947). The growth of dependent capitalism is what precisely makes colonial social change both unique and historically specific social change, i.e. alterations in the economic, class and political structures which the Indian social formation experienced in its movement from Mughal feudalism to colonial capitalism. From this point of view, this work is a case study of the historical formations of the capitalist mode of production, the capitalist class structure and the capitalist state as three major and specific dimensions of colonial social change.

Second, this work seeks to demonstrate dependent capitalist development in colonial India from an alternative methodological and theoretical standpoint. In contrast to the approach adopted by the few sociologists who have studied social change in terms of "modernization" of the Indian social structure, this work focusses on colonial social change from the conflict orientation as based upon the methodological and theoretical principles of Marxist Sociology. It is argued that dependent capitalist development in colonial India is a dialectical outcome of the historical interaction between British and Indian social formations or between metropolitan and indigenous forces of determination. This objective is pursued in terms of three theses. First, it is argued that the country that is more developed (Britain) industrially only shows, to the less developed (India), the image of its own future. The second thesis states that the country that is more developed industrially does not necessarily show, to the less developed, the image of its own future. Though apparently contradictory, these theses are meant to deal precisely with the contradictory role of metropolitan capital in colonial India. Given, this role, the third thesis illustrates that colonial capitalist development, i.e. the historical formations of the capitalist mode of production, the capitalist class structure, and the capitalist state, is the end product of an interplay between external and internal forces of determination within the contexts of global capitalism.

Finally, by undertaking the examination of the nature of, and the processes involved in, dependent capitalist development, this case study seeks to redirect Indian sociological concerns to the need for further research on Indian social change from the standpoint of the Sociology of Development. It is sincerely desired that this work will succeed to raise and stimulate further debate on the past, present and future roles of capitalism in the Indian social formation from the developmental sociological perspective.

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