Rank and Rivalry: The Politics of Inequality in Rural West Bengal by Marvin G. Davis
Anthropological enquiry is best done by attending equally to both social and cultural material. This is the view propounded here by Marvin Davis, who uses such an holistic approach to develop an original perspective on hierarchy and politics in rural Bengal. In the first part of the book, Professor Davis describes the indigenous theory of rank held by Hindus in rural West Bengal and shows that the premise of inequality is a central organising principle of their entire society and cosmos. In the second part, he shows that the Bengali preoccupation with rank generates frequent political rivalries at each level of rural social organisation. His book will interest all anthropologists and other social scientists concerned with the social and political organization of rural India. In addition, his explication of the links between ideology and social structure, often viewed in isolation from each other, makes the book an important contribution to anthropological theory and method.