Class 12 Sociology - Indian Society : Chapter 4: The Market as a Social Institution Questions and Answers

List of Questions and Answers

Q 1.In what way consumption pattern is related to status symbol?

Max Weber, pointed out that the goods that people buy and use are closely related to their status in society. He coined the term status symbol to describe this relationship.
For example, among the middle class in India today, the brand of cell phone or the model of car that one owns are important markers of socio-economic status.
Lifestyle is also differentiated based on status groups and classes.Consumption is one aspect of lifestyle, but it also includes the way you decorate your home and the way you dress, your leisure activities, and many other aspects of daily life.

2. What is meant by commodification ? Give an example.

Commodification occurs when things that were earlier not traded in the market become commodities. For example, labour or skills become things that can be bought and sold.

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Q 3. Write a note on traditional business communities.


  • The "traditional business communities" in India includes not only "Vaisyas", but also other groups with distinctive religious or other community identities, such as the Parsis, Sindhis, Bohras, or Jains.
  • Merchant communities did not hold high status in society during the colonial period , for example the trade in salt was mostly held by tribal group called Banjaras.
  • The operation of markets in India , earlier and at present can be examined based on business handled by communities.
  • One of the reasons for this caste-based specialisation is that trade and commerce often operate through caste and kinship networks.
  • Since businessmen are more comfortable to work with their own community because of trust they tend to do business within their own community rather than with outsiders and this tends to create a caste monopoly within certain areas of business.

Q 4.Analyse the Nattukottai Chettiars as a traditional merchant community.


  • The Nattukottai Chettiars (or Nakarattars) of Tamil Nadu, provide an interesting illustration of how the local trading networks were organised and worked.
  • A study of this community during the colonial period shows how its banking and trade activities were deeply embedded in the social organisation of the community.
  • The structures of caste, kinship, and family were oriented towards commercial activity, and business activity was carried out within these social structures.
  • As in most "traditional" merchant communities, Nakarattar banks were basically joint family firms, so that the structure of the business firm was the same as that of the family.
  • Extensive caste-based social networks allowed Chettiar merchants to expand their activities into Southeast Asia and Ceylon.

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Q 5. Write a note on the traditional business community of the Vaisyas.


  • "Vaisyas" constitute one of the four varnas-an indication of the importance of the merchant and of trade or business in Indian society.
  • Like the other varnas, "Vaisya" is often a status that is claimed or aspired to rather than a fixed identity or social status.
  • There are "Vaisya" communities (such as banias in North India), whose traditional occupation has been trade or commerce for a long time, there are some caste groups that have entered into trade.These communities tend to acquire or claim "Vaisya" status in the process of upward mobility.

Q 6.What do you understand by the phrase Invisible Hand?

Each person looks only to their own self-interest, but in the pursuit of this self-interest the interests of all – or of society – also seem to be looked after.So there is some sort of an unseen force at work that converts what is good for each individual into what is good for society. This unseen force was called "the invisible hand" by Adam Smith.

Q 7. What is marketisation?


  • Marketisation is the use of markets or market-based processes rather than government regulations or policies to solve social, political, or economic problems.
  • These include relaxation or removal of economic controls (deregulation), privatisation of industries, and removing government controls over wages and prices.

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Q 8.A bill of exchange which allowed merchants to engage in long distance trade during pre-colonial period in India is called ___________.


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