A strange situation of migration has taken place all over the world. There have been migrations of peoples from the European continent to the US and from Asia to the European continent and the US. These large-scale movements of people have created problems of social and cultural integration.
In the case of India, the recent trend of migration is that poverty and unemployment have pushed a large number of people to urban areas. When the village people migrate to cities, their culture undergoes great transformation.
The migrant groups live in two cultures-the indigenous culture and the urban culture. The interaction of both the cultures has created a rich field for anthropological studies.
By the mid-seventies some sociologists and social anthropologists brought out significant studies of urban communities. Victor D’Souza conducted studies on aspects of inequality and integration in an industrial society. M.S. Gore discussed the problems arising out of organization.
Milton Singer and Bernard Cohn edited a big volume on structure and change in Indian society. The contributors to this volume analyzed anthropologically the problems of industrialization and urbanization.
It must be emphasized that the current studies, which are coming out in the name of social anthropology and ethnology, are not of a holistic nature. Admittedly, the primitive, tribal, village communities are studied by social anthropologists as they provided new dimensions of scope and subject matter.
A significant and new change that has come about is that there is focus on the specific problems of a tribal, primitive, and urban or village community. The grip of ethnography in the study of tribals, it appears, has given way to problem-oriented studies. Now economic anthropology and demographic anthropology are emerging as current areas of scope and subject matter in social anthro.
Recently, Paul Hockings (1999) has made a watershed in the study of Badaga-a Nilgiri tribe of Tamil Nadu-with a perspective of demography. Hockings has studied a moderate size of Badagas distributed in four villages.
His findings are quite rewarding. He says that the decline of population among the Badaga tribe is largely due to modernization and transportation. Hockings’ study is from all considerations a problem-specific study of a tribal group.
In this study, the researcher has combined his knowledge of anthropology, history, demography and linguistics and very pointedly brings out demographic transition and social change over a decade.
He also studied Badaga kinship, marriage, household structure and various aspects of contemporary life, including the influence of the mass media, schooling, economy and migration. As a matter of fact, Hockings has studied the nature of the process of modernization amorig Badagas of north-west Tamil Nadu.
There are a few other studies also which take into consideration urban and industrial societies. The scope of sociology has undergone a vital change in terms of the simple and complex societies. Definitely, the scope has swung in favour of large and big societies.
Despite this widening scope, the essential anthropological bias, that is, the study of man in terms of uniformities and similarities remains the same. Social anthropology continues to maintain its status as a comparative study. It is this perspective or emphasis that makes it a distinct and different social science.