Authority Patterns Over Time : a comparison of asymmetric relationships on a local level in India between the 1960s, 1980s and 2010s

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: This study seeks to investigate how authority patterns have changed over time in the Indian districts Guntur and Krishna, by focusing on authority patterns as social relationships. Previous research on authority patterns often focuses on authority patterns as regime types, describing whether a regime is democratic or autocratic. This study takes a different approach using Harry Eckstein’s definition of authority pattens as a subset of human asymmetric relationships, relationships constructing the hierarchy in society. Social hierarchies guide human behaviour and predicts well-being and even survival, why it is important to understand their nature. In order to answer the research question of this thesis, a qualitative method and a ”strategy of change” (comparison over time) is used. Three points in time are analysed: the 1960s, 1980s and 2010s. In 1961 political scientist Myron Weiner conducted a field study regarding political participation in five Indian districts, and in 1985 the professor of international affairs Atul Kohli redid his study in order to compare local politics over time. The main contribution of this thesis is to pick up where Kohli left off, and once again analyse contemporary local politics in one of the districts and compare the findings to Weiner’s and Kohli’s. This design offers a unique opportunity to compare local Indian politics, and authority patterns, over the course of nearly 60 years. It is shown that authority patterns have changed over time, mostly because of the intertwined process of changing caste dynamics. However, the findings indicate that authority patterns in itself is an ambiguous concept, why future research is needed to get a deeper understanding of the nature of authority patterns.

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