Sociological study of the elite in a town in Bangladesh
Khan, Fazlur Rashid
The community elite members of Rajshahi have been largely recruited from the maddhabitta category. The new elites are predominant in the power structure. They are involved in exchange relationships amongst themselves, with the non-elite members and with some national elite members in order to maintain or enhance their privileged positions. This relationship generally assumes the character of patronclientage or a horizontal alliance. The involved parties perceive their mutual advantage. Elite conflict centres around the sharing of privileges, distribution of patronage resources, personal jealousies, political rivalry etc. Conflicts simultaneously lead to the break-up of old exchange relationships and the emergence of new ones. The kinship system, caste and land tenure relationships facilitate the emergence of exchange relationships. In politics patronage plays a major role; political mobilization and alliance are effected through the distribution of patronage. Politics is largely non-ideological, pragmatic and leadership-centred. It ultimately leads to legitimacy crises of the ruling elites because of inadequacy, maldistribution and misappropriation of patronage resources, irregular practices and repression. They are subsequently displaced by the new ruling elites who undergo the same process. Resources must be available for the functioning of the patronage system. Private resources in Bangladesh are inadequate to maintain the system as a whole. Access to official resources are important because most of the resources are controlled by the government and the government-supported organizations. The securing of these resources and the distribution of resources through intermediaries give rise to brokerage in certain spheres. Brokerage plays a significant role in various community affairs. The semi-feudalistic system of production, parochialism, manipulation, poverty, very weak class consciousness, and quick upward mobility keep the patronage system operative. The growth of Western type capitalism or a communistic type social system may break up the system, but both these possibilities seem to be very remote in Bangladesh.