Monday, June 07, 2010

Negatively and Positively Privileged Groups - i

Max Weber observed that positively privileged and negatively privileged groups develop worldview in conformation to their orientation to the world. Positively privileged groups have a sense of their human dignity that is related to their "being" - that is, their "beauty and excellence" - so that their "kingdom is 'of this world'" and they "live for the present ... by exploiting their great past." Negatively privileged groups cultivate a sense of human dignity that is related to the future. These groups are "nurtured by the belief in a providential mission," or by a belief that "the last will be first" in another life, or that in this life a messiah will appear who will "bring forth into the light of the world which his cast them out the hidden honour of the pariah people."

I read the above paragraph in "Sociological Theory" (Adams and Sydie). According to the editors, Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech was future oriented dream, just as white supremacist references to glorious Confederate tradition are present - and past - oriented.

I suppose the entire thing boils down to, positively privileged people think of a glorious past that has continued to the present. Whereas the negatively privileged (Oxymoron?) people think of glory in the future.

When it comes to India there are no absolutely positively privileged(PP) people since non-Indians have colonized us. Though there are absolutely negatively privileged people (NP). However, surprisingly, both PP and NP have only glorious past. We don't find visionaries like Martin Luther King among our NP. The creation of glorious past begins with one of the greatest leaders and scholars of India Dr. Ambedkar.

Ambedkar was the first one to come up with theory of Kshatriya -> Buddhist -> Shudra transformation. The problem was old works/scriptures did not have any clear identities so anybody could fill the gap.  I'm not sure which approach was better. Dr. King's hope of better future or Dr. Ambedkar's hope of reclaiming better past. Of course, many castes of India (who are relatively PP and NP) have their own glorious past. But the people who created these glorious past for other castes were generally primitive casteists. But Ambedkar was certainly not one among them.

In my opinion, Ambedkar was forced to come up with the glorious past theory as he was unable to counter racial superiority theory that was being circulated during that time, mostly based on pseudo scientific skin colour and skull shape. He might have come up with that theory in the hope that his people wouldn't be discouraged by their born inferiority as suggested by those pseudo-scientific studies.

1. Sociological Theory - Adams and Sydie
2. Essential Writings of  Dr.B R Ambedkar - Ed. Valerian Rodrigues

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