Pattern of social change and development among the tribal women in Assam, India

Madhushree Das


Social change, which is a multidimensional and complex process, occurs in all societies irrespective of their structure, compactness, integrity and stage of development. But for a change to be termed development, it must occur continuously in a desirable dimension and direction. These desired goals are specified by the values and needs of the society concerned. While change results in modification or alteration or replacement of the old by the new ones, development aims to achieve human well-being and enhance the quality of life. Like other societies, the tribal society of Assam, located in India’s North East, is also witnessing the spurt of social change and development due to a variety of factors. Having diverse ethnic origins, representing racial stock from Proto- Austroloid to Mongoloid, with a distinctive socio-cultural system, own cultural ethos, an unique way of adaptation to different ecological niches and a distinctive social structure of their own, these tribal groups seem to respond to processes of social change and development quite differently compared to other communities. In this context the role of women is vital as women are an active agent of change. However, the pattern of social change and development is no way uniform throughout the state. It is different among different tribal groups and in varying spatial contexts. Besides, the effects of change also seem to assume different orders and pattern. It is in this backdrop, an attempt is made in this paper to understand the patterns of social change and development among the women of eight major tribal groups (Boro, Mising, Karbi, Rabha, Sonowal Kachari, Tiwa, Dimasa and Deori) living here. The study is based on both primary and secondary data. While secondary data has been obtained from relevant Census of India publications for the period 1971-2001, necessary primary data have been collected through a field survey in the dominant pockets of eight major tribal groups (2009-2011). Further, to understand the pattern of social change and development among the women of the different tribal groups, quantitative techniques like Social Change Index, Composite Z Score and Principal Component Analysis have been used.


Social change, Tribal women, Racial stock, Socio cultural stock

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Published by Centre for Environment, Education and Economic Development (CEEED), Assam.