Between the Heart and the Mind
Tulsi Patel
ANTINOMIES OF SOCIETY: ESSAYS ON IDEOLOGIES AND INSTITUTIONS by Andre Beteille Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2004, 297 pp., 295.00
January 2004, volume 28, No 1

Dedicated to Dharma Kumar, this book by Beteille is a collection of 12 papers published elsewhere between 1978 and 1999. These are reflective pieces on Indian society’s uneven experiences in the course of transition from a traditional to a modernizing one. Antinomies are not the same as binary opposites, though they are a sort of contradiction in norms and values (rather than the socioeconomic features of the roles and relationships) deployed by the society as it regulates itself. They are both the surface and the undercurrents prevailing in the thoughts and behaviour of individuals and societies, an idea one encounters more in religious and philosophical literature than in the sociological one. But these are present in society all the time. My doctoral examiner’s comment that my thesis showed a great deal of tension (rather than an absence of it) as respondents encountered the family planning programme, comes to mind as one reads Antinomies. Beteille prefers Durkheim’s concept of ‘collective representations’ to the all-encompassing ‘collective conscience’ in dealing with antinomies.

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