Essay on Parochialization

Events, groups and decisions within a parish were often made locally, taking little heed of what was good for the church as a whole. Thus, a parish could sometimes be excessively focused at the local level, showing little interest in a more universal approach.

This term is sometimes used in politics, when for instance; a State Government takes a decision based on solely local interests that do not take into account the effect of the decision on the entire country. Thus, the government of the State of Texas may take a decision or pass a law which is beneficial to the citizens of that State, but not necessarily so to other citizens of USA as a whole.

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Parochialism is to be found all over the world and has sometimes been acknowledged openly by local institutions. For example, when the Harvard University changed its curriculum in February, 2007, it openly said that one of the main purposes of the major curriculum overhaul (the first in thirty long years) was to overcome “American parochialisms”.

If parochialism is found to exist in excess, it can cause hindrance to the formation of a strong state, nation or country. India is particularly susceptible to this evil. If an inefficient peon is suspended, the debate is why an employee of a particular caste or community was suspended – and not why an efficient employee was given this punishment. Likewise, when a cricketer is excluded from the Indian team on account of his recent performance, the debate is not whether he was in good form or otherwise, but as to why a player from West Bengal or Maharashtra was dropped from the team!

One can find several sects and sub-sects of the Protestant and Roman Catholic groups within India. Indian Christians are heavily influenced by the caste system and social stratification of India. Parochialization brought with it Christian ideals of faith, hope, charity and equality before God. These ideologies facilitated social mobility and brought about social change in India.

McKim Marriot, a researcher and a disciple of Robert Redfield of the Chicago University in USA visited India and studied a village by the name of Kishangarhi in U. P. In the course of his research, he has advocated two useful concepts which are always to be kept in mind when studying Indian civilization: universalisation and parochialization.

Universalisation is a process by which cultural traits of a relatively small tradition are absorbed into a great tradition. In other words, a local phenomenon becomes univeralised. Parochialization is the process which is the opposite of universalisation.

According to him, these twin concepts are operating simultaneously in the socio-religious system of Indian villages. The two processes are complimentary to each other, and the study of either one of them in isolation will never enable a person to understand Indian civilization as a whole. He strongly feels that our civilization can be understood only with the help of these processes.