In this article, You will read Morphology of Rural Settlement – for UPSC IAS (Geography).

Morphology of Rural Settlement

  • Morphology refers to the internal structure or the constructional plan of a village which includes the layout of streets and roads, arrangement of houses, pattern of housing, geometrical size and shape of village and agricultural fields, location of either the water body, religious site, or the house of the village headman.
  • Rural Morphology includes
    • Physical Morphology
    • Social Morphology

Physical Morphology

  • Physical Morphology includes the study of the relationship between the following:
    • Road to lane relationship: It includes how roads are connected to lanes.
    • Lane to lane relationship:
      • It is description of geometrical arrangement of lanes. How they are connected to each other and ending at what points.
      • In Indian villages, lanes are extremely narrow meandering and ending abruptly. This shows unplanned character of Indian villages.
      • In UK, cruciform villages have all the lanes cutting across 90 degree, because they are planned villages.
    • Lane to house relationship:
      • Geometry of lanes determines the arrangement of houses because houses grow along lanes.
      • In India, lanes are largely unplanned and arrangement of houses determines the lane type.
    • House to house relationship:
      • Physical morphology is also determined by the spacing between the houses.
      • In clustered villages, houses are unevenly spaced or they have wall to wall arrangement.
      • Houses are hardly according to geometrical plan and their average height is variable.
      • There is clustering of houses based on social structure/cast system.
      • Role of geometrical shape of the agriculture field also determines the village pattern.
      • House type can range from ‘Pucca’ to ‘Kutcha’ and in older parts of villages, ventilation is closed to the roof (depends on whether village is developed or not).

Social Morphology

  • It refers to the social structure of a village which is based on cast, or class.
  • In Indian villages, caste hierarchy is reflected in the morphology of villages.
  • Social factors like division of work, untouchability (not so prominent now), social prohibition over the work of women and lower casts had all led to a distinct social morphology of Rural Settlements from urban ones.
  • The following factors affect the following morphological character of villages:
    • Arrangement of buildings
    • Pattern of streets and fields
    • Functional characteristics of settlement.
      • For example, the houses of higher cast people like Brahmins and Rajputs would be large and people from the lower cast would have huts, kutcha houses with cattle.
  • The intermediate regions of rural settlement comprise of the people of service casts like Ahirs, Jats, Loth, etc.
  • Cast based hamlets at times emerge. These are closely linked with centre under the Jajmani system (inter cast cooperation like higher cast people requiring lower cast people for some specific work like ironsmith) and act like a unit.
  • K. N. Singh in his religious ritual and secular dominance model highlighted the importance of two concepts:
    • Development of twin settlement which included:
      • Caste Hindus
      • Outcasts
    • The segregation was much pronounced during the past favouring the outgrowth of the helmeted structure of villages, In the case of compact settlements out-castes generally lived on the outer parts of the built-up area in a direction (south, south-east, and north, etc.) less conducive for wind movement, for even air gets polluted after coming in contact with a Shudra‘s body.
    • How and why these traditions came into being is a matter of debate amongst scholars, but the author believes these untouchables to be the remnant of the pre-Aryan tribes who were always despised by the Aryans and later Rajput settlers.
    • Secular dominance model: Under this model, all caste and religion came together as functional units under the old Jajmani system. For example, landowners required the services of landless people for the cultivation of fields.
  • Thus, the socio-cultural traits of rural settlement is also a field of study in the settlement system
Morphology of Rural Settlement

Doxiadis classification of Rural Morphology

  • Earliest attempt to classify Rural Morphology was done by Doxiadis.
  • He classified rural morphology into four sectors:
    • Homogenous sector or Village core:
      • It consists of the central part of the village.
      • It has a religious site, water body or Zamindar/ Village headman’s house, or community land.
      • It is surrounded by the own caste man of village Zamindar.
      • It is the most densely populated region and congested part of the village reflecting patriarchal society and security concerns.
    • Transitional zone
      • This part is occupied by the village servicemen e.g. Goldsmith, Blacksmith, Milkman, weavers, etc.
      • This zone is attached with the core of the village where middle caste people are mixed with poor upper caste people.
      • This zone is also known as the Artisans zone.
    • Circulatory part:
      • It is the outer periphery of the village where new houses and settlers have been migrated or settled outward due to congestion of the core.
      • Thus, this zone has mixed land use in terms of social structure.
    • Special part:
      • It was occupied by landless labours outside the village close to farmlands because of work opportunities on-field and social segregation.
      • They are usually the people from the lower castes.

features of Rural Settlement
factors affecting the Rural Settlement

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Great compilations!! Please provide notes for the entire course asap. Its of great help.

Manoj Kumar Tummala

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The way you present a content is awesome.


Chinmayee Gouda

Thank you so much sir ….. really helpful content

Abhishek Meena

the best website i have even seen for geography optional

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