Caste, Class and Power is an intensive study of the changing patterns of social stratification in a multi-caste village in South India, first published in 1965. This village provides the background for this unusual description of contemporary change in a traditional society reacting to outside pressures. It recounts the gradual transformation of a social system that, till the end of the nineteenth century, was structured primarily on distinctions of caste - between the Brahmins, the middle-level non-Brahmins, and the Adi-Dravidas.
Beteille shows how the forces of modernization had rendered some areas of village life caste-free, while others were still governed by considerations of caste. The locus of power had shifted from the caste structure to more differentiated institutions such as the panchayats and political parties. With land coming into the market, the distribution of property was disassociated from caste. An intertwining of the still nascent political and economic conditions thus rendered the social system more complex and dynamic.
This third edition comes with a new Introduction by Christopher J. Fuller that situates the book in the context of development of social anthropology and its relevance to the current context.