The Social Mobility of Dhobis in Haryana, India

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
KiranPreet KAUR, Panjab University, India
The traditional Indian society has been stratified via the dominant institution of caste hierarchy based on the principle of purity and pollution.The traditional occupation of Dhobis was washing and ironing of clothes;falling under the ‘serving caste’. They were placed on the lower spectrum of the caste hierarchy and were categorized as untouchables and outcastes. The Government of India adopted legal measures to abolish untouchability and granted privileges to the ‘untouchable castes’ under the policy of ‘Protective Discrimination’, which was not made available to the Dhobis in Haryana. Their counterparts in other states of the India had access to the above mentioned policy. This paper will examine social mobility in terms of inter and intragenerational mobility among Dhobis in different districts of Haryana.

Mobility is measured in terms of occupation as it is considered an appropriate measure of status and prestige. In the case of intragenerational mobility, the past and present occupations of the respondents are compared, whereas, in the case of intergenerational mobility, the occupation of the son is compared with that of his father. In the context of this study, occupations of children (sons and daughters) are compared with both parents. The findings of this study show that less than five per cent have gained upward mobility by establishing dry-cleaning shops. Howerver, more than half of them are continuing with their traditional occupation, and one third have substituted it with labor and other petty jobs. Unable to make ends meet they remain partially involved in their traditional occupation with the assistance of women, who demand autonomy for their entry into the external world of work which has been resisted by men.Hardly anyone has acknowledged to have experienced untouchability, but they continue to face economic hardship,and are victims of discrimination, deprivation and humiliation.