Brief notes on the features and causes of Functionalism


The unifying forces of old custom and traditions have declined to a great extent and factionalism has grown up as a major problem in rural life. Rural factionalism is not a recent phenomenon. It has a long history.

In early days, although the incidence of factionalism was present in the Rural Society, but that was not a major social problem. The age old customs, traditions, values and institutions were powerful enough to check factionalism.

With the advent of industrialisation urbanisation and other modernizing forces, Rural Society has witnessed a great transformation. This has created a lot of tension and conflicts among the people. The rural social setting is not more a place of peace and tranquility.


Indian Rural Society is a veritable museum of different communities and even conflicting cults and ideologies. A careful observer can find different groups based on the basis of caste, economic interests, political interests, occupational interests etc, these groups play a vital role on guiding the action of individuals. They are also influenced by other groups of village community like kinship groups, caste groups and clan groups.

In Rural India all these different groups exist with varying interests who leads to factionalism and conflicts. This function and conflict is visible in hundreds of event taking place in village every day. But these conflicts are not like industrial conflicts between capitalists and laborers. Rural conflict is a highly complex and complicated affair. The factions also very from each other in their nature and extent.

Nature of Fractions:

Generally some factions are temporary and some are permanent in nature. Temporary factions are short lived. Such type of factions are formed only to gratify specific interests or to solve specific problems. When the interests are materialised these factional groups cease to exist.


In such a situation the tension in the overt form is subdued for a temporary period both the tension and hat redness remains in psychological levels in a convert form. When it gets the invoking conditions it reveals itself with new vigor and strength.

On the other hand, permanent factions are enduring in nature. Such type of factions are mainly due to caste rivalry or due to some other personal and social causes which affects the majority of the village people, for example, the factions between ‘Harijan’ and ‘Sabarna’ is a permanent one.

Now-a-days rural factions have attained such high proportions that it has become a grave concern for all. The last two decades have witnessed an alarming rate of factions in Rural India. Now-a-days factions are no more in the mild form rather it has taken the violent form in the shape of murder, rape, riot etc, if such trend continues, the day is not far behind when village will be the ‘Demon’s hunting ground which was once upon a time the ‘Nature’s paradise.

Features of factional groups:


The nature of factions can be clearly understood from the various features of factions. According to Oscar Lewis the important essential fact features of factions are as follows:

1) Well organised and strong unit:

Factional groups are well organised and members belonging to a factional group are very much loyal to it. The members are very much influenced by the spirit of ‘altruism’ by which they are ready to sacrifice many things, even their own life is the sake of their groups. Generally, the people are organised to fulfill some direct short term or long term interests. Their interests are closely inter related which results in a stronger unit.

2) Strength of the number decides the fact of the factional groups:


The power of the factions generally depends upon the numerical strength of its members. When large number of person are involved and interested in a function, the faction became self sufficient to meet the need of its members. The size of the function also depends on the leadership and organising ability of the group leader.

3) Economic Viability:

To function independently, members take all care to make their economically strong. If the faction is not economically self sufficient it can not function independently nor it can fulfill the need of the members and given them protection. This hampers the group solidarity to a great extent and the vigor of the faction decreases.

Causes of faction:


Evidence derived from a number of village studies suggest that the factions are formed “on account of natural rivalry, clash of personality, caste and estate rivalry etc, even some faction groups are formed on the basis of certain common interests. Therefore, factional groups are sometimes opposed to one another and sometimes they also co-operate with each other. Let us see some of the important causes of factionalism as it occurs in rural areas.

1) Quarrels and dispute over succession of property:

In the Indian village economy, land occupies and important position. It is one of the major criteria of rural stratification. It is one of the major criteria of rural stratification. It is the land that determines the status of an individual to a great extent. Therefore, people have a strong sentimental attachment towards their landed property.

Some times over the possession and succession of land, disputes and quarrels arise among the individuals. If the dispute continues for a long time, many persons get involved in the disputes which lead to factions in village.

2) Dispute over the common land and irrigation facilities:

In every village there is some common land which is barren and uncultivable and are used by the villagers for cultural purpose or in religious and festive occasions or for grazing the cattle. If the people of other village use it or claim right over it, then villagers get united to protect their rights. This leads to conflict between two villagers. Often this conflict spreads to the entire Panchayat and different villages begin to take side.

Irrigation facilities are provided through canals and branch canals which ran through different village area if the difference of opinion and conflict arises among the people of two villages it leads to blocking of water of branch canals which deprive other villages of getting water for irrigation. This common cause is soon mixed up with other causes of difference which leads to complexity of factions.

3) Disputes and feuds caused by sexual offend:

In rural Society a high value is attached towards sexual chastity illicit sex relationship is strictly prohibited. Sometimes is found that some illicit relations grow up between young girl and boys often, the marriage between them is prohibited due to many considerations like Caste Status, Kinship etc, and some people oppose the marriage whereas some people approve it which leads to faction and conflict among villagers.

4) Rivalries among various castes:

Castes play a very dominant role in Rural India. Caste rivalry has become a regular phenomenon and it is increasing day by day in modern India. In Rural Society two principles caste groups are visible operating simultaneously. These are higher caste groups in one side and lower caste group in other side.

High caste groups in one side and lower caste groups in other side. Higher caste groups due to their higher social standing economic strength try to exploit and humiliated the lower caste people. The members of the lower caste groups get organised and make concerned efforts to protect their interests. This leads to factions and caste conflict.

Caste rivalry and caste conflicts have become regular news in media. In the states like U.P, Bihar, Gujarat, M.P., Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Orissa the caste feeling is very acute. For example in U.P., ‘Thakur’ is the dominant caste rules the village and keeps the various castes like ‘Chamaras’, ‘Bhaksors’, Pasis etc, under its control.

These castes after a long course of suffering raise their voice against the suppression which leads to conflict and tensions in Bihar always there occurs a caste war between Thakurs and non Thakurs. In Orissa the caste conflict is also prevalent and it arises mainly between ‘Harijans’ and ‘Sabarnas’. Often this castes conflict leads, to bloodshed and killing of innocent people.

5) Feeling of insecurity:

When people feel insecure due to the interference of some external forces or due to other reasons, they join together and organise themselves into function. Feeling of insecurity is also developed due to poverty and lack of resources.

6) Feeling of dominance:

A desire to occupy a dominant place in social life is a fundamental instinct in man. Some people in order to impose their supremacy over others, unit together. The people who fall victim to their conspiracy, gradually from a group to fight against them. The enlightened people with liberal rational attitude join them. A perpetual conflict goes on till the end on one of the either party.

7) Idle hours:

The village people sit idle near about six months in a year after the harvesting season. During this period they have no productive work to be engaged in. They mostly spend times in gossiping idle talks in groups. “An idle mind is a devils workshop”. These talks often centers round the personality or prosperity of some individuals which often leads to many conflicts.

8) Village Panchayat and Elections:

The institution of Village Panchayat has become hot be of political in rural areas. The re organisation of Village Panchayats has resulted in worsening the conditions in the village because the race to occupy influential positions in the Village Panchayat has intensified village factions and quarrels. Elections to Panchayat to Panchayat have accentuated caste rivalry and caste consideration has been a major factor in selection and election of represented. Thus Village Panchayat has divided the Rural Society into different factions.

9) Politicisation of Rural Society:

During last two decades, a greater degree of politicisation has taken place in the Rural Society. Every aspect of rural social life has become very much politicised. In earlier day’s people in rural areas are very much alert about political affairs and are and are trying best to take active past in the political game of the state. Various political parties, in order to create their base in Rural Society also are trying to bring more people into their fold. These political parties take resort to many unfair means to satisfy their members.

Political affiliation and other political considerations determine many issues in rural life. The developmental assistance and help are sanctioned on the basis of partly affiliations. Even many criminal and offensive behaviors go unpunished due to patronage of political leaders. In fact politicisation of Rural Society without proper education and morality has destroyed the peaceful atmosphere of rural life by dividing it into many groups and sub groups.

In rural area, a new type of Leadership is merging. Those who are half educated, neither able to get an official job nor work, in the agricultural field are taking shelter in political field and accepting it as their profession. These people are not interested in ‘value based’ politics but in interest asking politics. Due to this political involvement, faction in Rural Society are becoming very much acute, often leading to serious conflicts.

10) Emergence of new institutions:

For the development of Rural Society, the Government has taken various steps for reconstructing the rural social set up. As a result, various new institutions have been established in rural areas. There are Tahasil Offices, Revenue Offices, Police Stations, Settlement Offices, Consolidation Offices, Banks, Co-operative, Societies etc. Police Stations or “Phandi” have been established in rural area to check, the rate of crime and violence. But the police personnel, who are appointed there, rarely play any impartial role.

They are often inclined to the so called petty leaders and rich people. These people also apply various pressures and after many attractions to bring the police personnel’s into their confidence another burning examples is the land consolidation which is operating in rural areas recently. These personnel are creating various factions by showing favor to a particular group or family at the cost of the interest of other group or family. The establishment of ‘Anganbadi’ and ‘Mahila Samities’ has added to these factions. Election to these organisations and their management has divided the Rural Society into different groups.

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