IGNOU BSOC 108 Solved Free Assignment
BSOC 108 Solved Free Assignment July 2023 & January 2024
Q. 1. How is economics and sociology related with each other? Discuss.
Ans. Economic Sociology tries to establish a link between human social behaviours. The social, cultural and economic phenomena are important aspects of life and it is very important to understand the linkage among these three.
Economic sociology analyses economics by using sociological tools and establishes a link between the economic and social phenomena.
Economic sociology had established a separate identity as a sub-discipline of Sociology. There are different approaches of Sociology to explain the dynamics of social life and economics.
We know that economics is primarily concerned with the economic lives of people and sociology has an extensive view- point and it is concerned with understanding society’s social activities as a whole, including the economic lives of people, belief systems in the society, traditions/culture, political issues, etc.
In this way, the relationship between Economics and Sociology is not competing/substituting but these are two complementary and there is a great deal of cooperation.
An economic analysis is also helped by sociological view-points on economic aspects and some economists had opined that analysis of many economic phenomena is not complete without understanding the sociological aspects.
During early 19th century, a number of sociologists were worried about the changes taking place in the economic and social fields.
According to Karl Marx, economy is an important aspect of social change and reproduction.
A society is built around the economy and different social classes are structured on specific modes of production. The main concerns of the sociologists were the changes taking place due to capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, etc.
Studying the relationship between economic structures and social actions, Max Weber went on to analyze the role played by cultural factors in formation of economies and laid more emphasis on the significance of protestant ethic in the emergence of capitalism in the western world.
Emile Durkheim tried to understand the changes in division of labour in modern societies and the way it explains formation of groups.
Marxian approach of political economy and class analysis as well as the institutional emphasis of Weber are combined by classical political economy and economic sociology, and shows how specific mode of the economy had come up.
In the same way, the market behavior and firms’ strategies can be understood by Durkheim’s concept of structure.
In developing economic sociology as a specialized field of enquiry, a great role was played by subsequent writers such as Parsons and Polanyi.
Whereas sociologists during the 19th century were primarily concerned with describing market behaviour and practices in the shape of social action and influenced by structural factors, the economists were more concerned with developing mathematical models, quantitative analysis of fundamental assumptions of market, etc.
A number of assumptions of classical political economy and modernization theory were questioned due to changes taking place in the society,
there were improvements in economic and social theories.
Q. 2. Dscribe the concept of economy described by the classical thinkers like Karl Marx, Max Weber and E. Durkheim.
Ans. The first approach among the early approaches of economic sociology followed the Marxian methods to explain the social relations formed around material life, division of classes, production of rent and profit, economic differentiation and how the capitalist structure had affected socio-cultural areas.
Weber’s stress on understanding organizations is also included in it and it also explains the interactions between organizations and State/social classes or between industrial and agricultural interests.
Economic sociology’s second approach lays stress on the role of networks in economy and also analyzes elite relations with each other and their monopoly on social resources.
The way economic elites form their alliance with the social/political leaders and the way such alliances form national policies and business deals.
Third approach is institutional approach which is inspired by Durkheim and it studies beliefs, myths, ideologies, and social construction of economies.
Karl Marx (1818-1883): He said that labour is the most important condition for the existence of human society.
He criticized the classical economists for not effectively taking up the conflict between capitalists and workers characteristics of capitalist economies and gave emphasis on ownership in the means of production.
He also explained class formation and social transformation and viewed that capitalism had generated growing polarization between social classes which may increase the conflict and may throw out the old forms of economic organization.
Wealth in capitalist economies generates surplus value and profits and it leads to exploitation of the working class.
He said that due to competition, the entrepreneurs have to look for new techniques and machines to reduce their cost of production and increase own wealth by putting in more capital and earning more profits at the cost of labor, which leads other capitalists also to look for innovations to reduce their costs of production as well.
It is followed by unemployment which causes poorer living conditions of working class.
Max Weber (1864-1920): Main characteristic of Weber’s theory on origin of modern capitalism is provided in his work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.
He said that many earlier economists had misunderstood the social and cultural context of the beginning of capitalism.
He pointed that protestant ethic inspired by Calvinism had played significant part in forming capitalist ideas. He said that due to the doctrine of predestination, many people had been chosen by their prosperity.
Capitalism involved earning profits and also making best use of capital besides condemning luxurious goods. On this basis, according to Weber, the base of capitalism was formed.
Weber went on to discuss macro sociological problems of the beginning and growth of capitalism and he also contributed his class formula to economic sociology.
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917): Durkheim said that the economic factor depends on social phenomena because it is a constituent of social institutions, norms and values. Many modern economic sociologists call him as the father of economic sociology because of his ideas of economic theory and research.
Durkheim was critical of economists for isolating everything from its social aspects. He studied the beginning of industrial societies and tried to give sociological explanations for changes in the lives of communities.
He analyzed changes in ‘social density’. In his book the Division of Labour in Society, Durkheim said that with growth of technology and towns, many groups of people came together with great consequences and it also changed the way they socialize with others.
Since it was very difficult to perform all sort of works as was being done before the beginning of industrialization, people started developing specific skills.
Industrialization and urbanization had caused them to continue performing specific tasks due to which there was an increase in the inter dependence of people on each other.
He placed his theory against the views of utilitarian economists that rational action was the general nature of human society.
He pointed out that in the modern societies; economic activities were organized in socially destabilizing ways because of the abnormal forms of division of labour.
In the view of Durkheim, the reasons for division of labour must be seen in a different social source, such as changes in the social morphology and nature of social relations.
Q. 3. What is the Washington Consensus? Explain.
Ans. During 1980s, there was a resurgence of economic orthodoxy and counter revolution in developmental economies, called the Washington Consensus. The term was adopted by the World Bank and the IMF.
The Consensus had economic writings of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and also had the philosophies of Thatcher and Reagan administrations. Many lessons were also learned from the debt crisis of the early 80s.
It provided a number of measures that could be used by the debtor Third World countries, such as fiscal discipline, lower public expenditures, tax reforms, market-determined interest rates, etc.
Along with the victory of neo-liberalism, there was a growing disaffection with Marxist ideas and communist- socialist political systems. Starting first in the Eastern Europe, it was followed in Western Europe and the United States.
It also got strength after the collapse of systems in 1989-90 in which the sole serious competitor to western capitalism had disappeared.
A new usage of globalization had appeared, signifying that capitalism could command the world without any ideological or political challenge.
The economic policies that had appeared with neo-liberalism were called Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) by IMF as the conditions imposed on debtor countries as the guarantee of repayment of loans.
In India, SAP had come in the 1990’s when India was undergoing through a debt crisis. Main purpose of the SAP was to cut government expenditures, reduce state intervention in economy and liberalize trade.
Q. 4. What did Karl Polanyi mean by the concept of embededness of economy?
Ans. Polanyi gave the concept of embeddedness for elaborating the meaning of substantive economy and this was his most significant contribution to social thought.
The concept of embeddedness says that society and economy look to be two separate spheres which are disembedded from each other.
He says that the whole tradition of modern economic thought or formal economy is based on the concept of economy as an interlocking system of markets in which adjustment of demand and supply is automatically done through price mechanism.
Economists also say that sometimes the market system seeks Governmental help for getting rid of market failures but still they maintain that economy is an equilibrating system of integrated markets.
Discussing self regulating market, Polanyi says that no society can naturally live for any period without having an economy. Although, the institution of market was common since the Stone Age, yet, but it did not have a significant role in economic life.
Embeddness and Substantive Economy: Polanyi wanted to say that all through the human history, the concept was different from the actual situations in human societies and says that the human economy was always embedded in society before the 19th century which, according to him, is the substantive economy.
He says that human economy is embedded in institutions, economic and non-economic.
The role played by non-economic such as religion is very significant. Actually, he wanted to show how economy was woven into other cultural institutions in different societies at a specific period in time.
He laid stress on the institutedness and social embeddedness of economies and considered the economy as an instituted process of interaction between man and environment to provide a continuous supply of material that satisfy wants.
Q. 5. Describe the different forms of pastoralism.
The most common forms of pastoralism are nomadic pastoralism and transhumant pastoralism:
- Nomadic Pastoralism: These people herd livestock for getting fresh pastures for grazing of animals and keep migrating from one place to another in search of places where they can settle. They do not live continuously at one place but keep moving periodically. Besides domesticating animals, the nomadic pastoralists also have a symbolic relationship with non-pastoralists and they get engaged in activities such as hunting, weaving, etc.
These people move with their livestock through a fixed route for the places which are pre-decided but their movements do not take place at any fixed period.
Having their earlier experiences regarding rainfall, pasture, availability of market, etc., these people decide about the places where they can stay.
Further, when there are any unexpected changes in the weather conditions, these people may be compelled to leave for another destination.
Since these people such as the Gujjars of Himachal Pradesh/ Gharwal, keep changing their places and their families as well as their animals to other places do not themselves cultivate crops, they have to depend for procuring cultivated goods on non-pastoralists by engaging in exchange of commodities.
Semi-nomadic pastoralists (such as Bhuttias of Sikkim), also get engaged in crop cultivation activities besides their other works.
These semi- nomadic people use to move towards pastoral lands for some period of time and then again move back to perform their agriculture related activities, thus, they seasonally perform live-stock related activities and also do crop cultivation.
Transhumant Pastoralism: There is a definite pattern of movement in trans-humance pastoralism and these people regularly move with their livestock from highlands in summer to lowlands in winter season.
There are many pastoralists who move with their livestock to seasonal pastures. In many parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, etc. These people take their livestock on their own or with the help of hired persons.
But these pastoralists do not move with their entire family and they leave these remaining members in their permanent homes in low altitude areas. In the summer season, they perform cultivation activities at different sites.
Such cultivation activities are only up to the extent of their survival. These pastoralists exchange their animal produce for getting those commodities which they cannot themselves produce but cannot produce themselves.
Trans-human pastoralism has two types:
Vertical Trans-humance is there when people move from higher pastures during summer to lower pastures during the winter season. The pastoralists of this type are in the Himalayan ranges, Western Ghat, Nanda Devi, etc.
. Horizontal Trans-humance pastoralism takes place when people move with their animals away from their homes in summer pastoral places and return back in winter to pastoral sites near to their homes. These movements are not affected by climatic changes.
.These people continue to maintain their homes during the period when they remain away from homes and have abodes at both places. They rear the animals for getting economic gains.
Q. 6. What were the core ideas of Mark Granovetter on “embededness” in society?
Ans. In the views of Granovetter, the concept of embeddedness emphasizes the role of networks of interpersonal relations.
In economic sociology, his study getting a Job has been among the most successful studies of networks market mainly because of its innovation and analysis.
The study analyses social mechanisms with which people get employment. It is based on studying professional, technical, and managerial workers in Newton (Boston) in which 280 people had answered questions relating to the source leading to the new job, whether it is correct to consider labour market as a place where all the participants get information about jobs, etc.
In this way, Granovetter concluded that: (i) Perfect labour markets exist only in textbooks, and (ii) The idea of a rational job search cannot tell about the events occurring after people get employment.
In the embeddedness approach, it is emphasized that the level of trust among people is greatly affected by the solid personal relations and its networks.
Q. 7. What is the meaning of money? Explain.
Ans. Money is generally accepted as a medium of exchange. It is given by all of us for buying goods and services.
Money can also be converted into different types of assets very easily. In common parlance, when we talk of money, we refer to currencies in paper form or coins, such as Rupee, Dollar, etc.
Currencies are used by people all over the world to buy goods/ services or to repay debts. But in economics, the term money carries a specific meaning. Economists consider money as a medium which facilitates exchange.
Money is a medium of exchange, a measure of value, a store of value and a standard. Money continues to carry the value until it remains possessed.
It is used as medium in completing transactions covering exchange of goods/services and many other transactions.
Money can measure in determining value of particular goods due to which a decision about their purchases can be taken depending upon their relative values. One can also determine the value of goods in the market with the help of money.
The three most significant functions performed by money, according to various economists and social scientists, are: medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account.
Q. 8. Discuss the main characteristics of a peasant economy.
Ans. The main characteristics of the peasant economy are:
- Primary unit of production is the family.
- Large extended families or nuclear families are the commonly found sizes.
- Technical/economic requirements of a family determine its size.
- Peasants are considered inferior and they are generally poor.
- Model of inheritance determines extent of involvement in agricultural practices.
- Peasants live a sedentary lifestyle by engaging in farm work for cultivation in close vicinity of the land.
- These are small societies whose members follow their traditions and they do not easily accept any changes in their family or their economy.
- There is division of labour which is gender based and power relations among members are also determined by way of gender.
Q. 9. Define and discuss the meaning of pomology with examples?
Ans. Pomology studies about fruits and its cultivation and it is basically the science of growing fruits and nuts. It also includes planting, harvesting and marketing of these products.
Fruits are divided by horticulturists as tree fruits and the fruits grown on shrubs. Generally, tree fruits are large fruits and fruits grown on shrubs are small but we get both these types of fruits from plants.
Fruits such as orange, plum, peach etc. are known as true fruits or simple fruits because these fruits are grown only from tissues of one ovary.
On the other hand, false fruits (such as apple, pear, strawberry, etc.), have tissues and ovary, both.
Q. 10. What do you understand by capitalism? Explain.
Ans. Capitalism is characterized by private ownership of the means of production. In this type of economic system, owners of capital are known as capitalists or capitalist class or bourgeoisie and the people who work for getting wages or those who sell their labour for wages are called the working class or proletariats.
Karl Marx has provided this classification of bourgeoisie and proletariat as classes. The goods and services are produced for exchange and interest.
In this capitalist form, production is done primarily for the purpose of earning profit.
Profit is generated in terms of money. The capitalists invest money to earn more money. They deploy workers, machines, raw materials, etc. with the intention to get more output and thereby earn more profits.
In this way, the entire economy expands which results in capital accumulation. Class struggle starts when the owners of resources and the workers are engaged in a struggle which emerges due to the resentment.
Owners of capital pay fewer wages to increase profits and workers try to reduce their burden to get more benefits.
This struggle, in terms of Marxian theory, is between proletariats and bourgeoisie wherein, the former are a powerful class in comparison to non-powerful labour class bourgeoisie.