Doing Theory: Locations, Hierarchies and Disjunctions
Maitrayee Chaudhuri and Manish Thakur (Eds.)
153 x 228 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

We live in times where theory is often understood as irrelevant in the real world. It appears to have no practical results. This has been further complicated in a post-fact world, where our ‘identities’ and ‘perception’ have become the final judges of truth.

Sociology/social anthropology, in contrast, rests on a fundamental distinction between commonsense and theoretically informed knowledge. It teaches us to get rid of ‘perceptions’ and alerts us to go beyond taken-for-granted ideas. The paradox is that although theory is taught as a mandatory paper in sociology, it is either reduced to a topic in the syllabi or used as ceremonial citations.

Emphasising that theories emerge in specific historical contexts and are embedded in economic, political, social, cultural, institutional, and intellectual processes, this volume takes a new approach by highlighting the sociological paths through which theories travel and are adopted by institutions in different parts of the country.

The contributors explore:

  • the search for an ‘indigenous’ theory within sociology in India;
  • critically examine the construction of the ‘local’ and the ‘postcolonial’;
  • theorise the ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’, caste and modernity, industrial and media sociology;
  • study the disconnect between theory taught within the classroom and theory practised in the world outside.

Maitrayee Chaudhuri is Professor of Sociology, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Manish Thakur is Professor of Sociology, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Joka, Kolkata.

List of Abbreviations
1. Introduction
Maitrayee Chaudhuri and Manish Thakur

Part I: Theorising the ‘Indigenous’, ‘National’, ‘Local’, and ‘Postcolonial’

2. The Quest for Indigenous Theory: Then and Now
Manish Thakur

3. The Work of the ‘Local’
Upal Chakrabarti

4. Theorising the Nation-state: Hegemonic Discourses and Counter-narratives
Tanweer Fazal

5. The Politics of Social Theory: A Critical Analysis of the Caste–Modernity Paradigm
Gayatri Nair

Part II: Disassembling Theory: Understanding Absences, Presences and Schisms
6. Notes towards a Renewal of Industrial Sociology in India
Aardra Surendran

7. Media in Indian Sociology: Contexts, Making and Theorising
Jesna Jayachandran

8. The Schism between Teaching Theory and Doing Method: The Practice of Sociology
Amites Mukhopadhyay
9. ‘Social’ Research in a Media Organisation
Sushree Panigrahi

Part III: Ethnography and Theory

10. Understanding Prison Sociality: Objects, Surveillance and Everyday Life
Mahuya Bandyopadhyay

11. ‘For the Skin is Faster than the Word’: Towards an Ethnography of Affect
Sukanya Sarbadhikary

12. Oral History with Women Naxalites and Hindu Rioters: Questions of Epistemology and Ethics
Chitralekha Dhamija

Part IV: Theory: Disjunctions, Travels and Effects

13. Theorising Experience: On Critical Pedagogy and the Subject Matter of Caste
Ratheesh Kumar

14. Anti-Caste Awareness: Inside and Outside the Classroom
Pushpesh Kumar

15. Chasing Pareto
Hia Sen

16. Reading Theory Backwards: A Worm’s Eye View
Maitrayee Chaudhuri

Notes on the Contributors


Co-editor/author of Doing Theory, Maitrayee Chaudhuri, was interviewed by the New Books Network, which has a podcast of the interview.
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