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The Social and the Symbolic

The Social and the Symbolic
Volume II

First Edition
Edited by:
  • Bernard Bel - French National Centre for Scientific Research
  • Jan Brouwer - Centre for Advanced Research on Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Mysore
  • Biswajit Das - Centre for Culture, Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Vibodh Parthasarathi - Centre for Culture, Media & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Guy Poitevin - Late of Centre for Cooperative Research in Social Sciences, Pune

Volume: 2
Other Titles in:
Mass Communication Theory

February 2007 | 482 pages | SAGE India
This is the second book in the three-volume series Communication Processes.

Communication Processes, Volume 2 argues that communication, an exchange of symbols, is the essence of society and that this exchange is the foundation on which the human collective is based. It explores how the collective sense of self is defined either with reference to, or in defiance of, dominant existing traditions. The essays in the volume highlight the links between culture studies and the use of communication in binding together a community, also providing a voice to the unheard and unsung.

Beginning by describing the pertinence of communication to grasping the overall substance of social reality, the volume is divided into the following three parts:

- Fonts of Self Identity: this section looks at the emergence and construction of personal and collective identities through myths, linguistic innovations, religious idioms, stories and traditions of marginalized communities;

- Grounds of Work Relations: here, the contributors focus on occupations and vocations, with reference to the peasant and artisan communities from Western India;

- Bonds of Health Practices: the focus of this section is on healthcare practices and knowledge of traditional communities.

Overture: Recasting 'the Social' as 'the Symbolic'

Bernard Bel, Jan Brouwer, Biswajit Das, Vibodh Parthasarathi and Guy Poitevin
Negotiating Modernity with Symbolic Resources

Guy Poitevin
Symbolic Facets of Medical Power

Bernard Bel
Avenues of Expression

The Minas: Seeking a Place in History

Nandini Sinha Kapur
Quests for Assertion

Vadar Narratives: Dramatic Reappropriation of a Myth

Datta Shinde
Mang Narratives: Semantic Reappropriation of a Myth

Sanjay Jogdanda
Bhakti: A Faith for Rehabilitation

Guy Poitevin and Hema Rairkar
Introduction: Faculties of Correlation Editors

Integrative Links of 'the Traditional'

The Communicating Goddess of the Artisans

Jan Brouwer
The Mother Earth of the Mawal Peasant

Baban Khandbhor and Prabhakar Ghare
Disruptive Challenges of 'the Modern'

Vadar Communities: Traditional Skills in Changing Times

Datta Shinde
Parit Communities: Occupation and Survival

Suresh Kokate
Introduction: Symbolic Forms and Signs

Guy Poitevin
Between Yesterday and Today

The Slum Dwellers of Chennai: Indigenous Health Practices

S A Samy
The Vaidu: Traditional Practices and Social Status

Chandrakant Kokate
Inheritance of Knowledge

Birth Attendants: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Bernard Bel and Andréine Bel
Popular Culture and Childbirth: Perceptions and Practices in Rural Rajasthan

Tulsi Patel
Midwives: A Tradition on the Move in Maharashtra

Hema Rairkar
In Lieu of an Epilogue Editors


This book argues that communication, an exchange of symbols, is the essence of society and that this exchange is the foundation on which the human collective is based…. The various essays highlight the links between culture studies and the use of communication in binding together a community as also to provide a voice to the unheard and the unsung.

The Times of India

In The Social and the Symbolic, the authors have successfully brought to the fore the symbolic ordering in communication processes that is going among and across societies to reveal the various facets of social life. …The book is a laudable effort by the editors to present a methodical model to understand the social reality by analysing communication process in the society. The essays reflect upon the social, political, economic and medical aspects of social life and provide deep insights into their symbolic foundations to reach at the comprehensive understanding of the social system in which they are grounded. A serious reading of the book would be a reader’s delight.

eSocial Science

Bernard Bel

Bernard Bel is a research engineer currently working at Laboratoire Parole et Langage, Université de Provence, a speech research laboratory of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris. Earlier, he was a member of the Groupe Intelligence Artificielle, Marseille II University. Between 1994 and 1998, he was deputed to Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi, to carry on projects in musicology and sociocultural anthropology. He has published numerous articles on both subjects and is currently involved in social activism for an improvement of birth practices in French-speaking countries, both as the webmaster of the... More About Author

Jan Brouwer

Jan Brouwer recently retired as Professor of Cultural Anthropology from the North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong. He is presently Professor of Anthropology at the University School of Design, University of Mysore and Honorary Director at the Centre for Advanced Research on Indigenous Knowledge Systems (CARIKS), Mysore. He has many published works to his credit and is currently working on the concept of autonomy and death as a social relation. More About Author

Biswajit Das

Biswajit Das is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He has over two decades of teaching experience and specialized research in communication studies, during which he was also a visiting fellow at the Universities of Windsor, Canada and Hawaii, USA. His research has been supported by various foundations and institutions in India and abroad such as Indo-French Scholarship, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies and the Charles Wallace Trust. More About Author

Vibodh Parthasarathi

Vibodh Parthasarathi, an independent communication theorist and policy consultant based in New Delhi, maintains an interest in the political economy of communication and comparative media practice. His work has gained support from the Charles Wallace India Trust, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation, Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, India Foundation for the Arts, and the Netherlands Fellowship Programme. He has also taught at government and private universities in India, besides dabbling in documentaries. ‘Crosscurrents—A Fijian Travelogue’, his last documentary, explored the many faces of ‘reconciliation’ after the decade of coups... More About Author

Guy Poitevin

Guy Poitevin (1934–2004) was born in Mayenne (France). After studying to become a priest and graduating in philosophy and theology, he taught for twelve years in a seminary in Western France. He settled in Pune in 1972 and later became a naturalized Indian citizen. Along with his wife Hema Rairkar, friends and associates, he set up the Village Community Development Association (VCDA, ttp:// in 1978 to support socio-cultural action in remote rural areas, and the Centre for Cooperative Research in Social Sciences (CCRSS, in 1980 for the purpose of carrying out theoretically related activities. Besides numerous... More About Author

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ISBN: 9780761934462

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