One of the most sought after subjects with the future IAS aspirants, its immense popularity is evident from the fact that out of the top 10 rankers in the UPSC examination 3 are sociology candidates and out of the top 25 candidates, 12 have sociology as their subject. The main reasons for selection of sociology can be attributed to its ease of understanding and a well-defined syllabus, extremely interesting and require a short time for preparation of 6-8 months. Our past survey shows that the sociology subject is not only preferred by the Humanities candidates but also the candidates from Engineering and the medical domain.
The subject of sociology in the mains consists of two Papers :
-Sociology Paper I which deals with the fundamentals of Sociology
-Sociology Paper II optional dealing with the Indian society, its structure, and change.
The performance of any candidate on the exam is dependent on his ability to answer the maximum questions in the given interval with accuracy and precision.UPSC being the mother of all the Indian examination in the level of difficulty and scope the choice of the subject be such that it should be easy to understand and conceptualized. Besides easy to conceptualize, the field of Sociology can be regarded as a mere extension of our social behaviour.one of the optional through which you can enhance your chances to become successful. The success rate of sociology as a subject has been remaining steady over years at 9% which also makes it ideal with candidates as their optional choice.
Other Benefits of sociology as an optional subject
1. Chances of achieving a good score are considerably high. The answers can be elaborated in most cases from a general point of view..
2. As mentioned Sociology helps you have a generalized viewpoint on each topic; this means scoring more marks in essays.
3. It enhances ones speaking and reasoning abilities at all levels.
4. Most of the Questions on theories are a repeat of previous years papers. So, there’s no need to worry about getting shockers in the exam.
5. The subject most generalized doesn’t need a background of Sociology.
6. The syllabus is not very long and the study material is available.
What is the subject all about:
Sociology is made of words ‘Socius’ (means ‘companion’) and ‘logous’ (means ‘the study of’), therefore it is the study of companion relations and interactions which form the base of society. Hence in easy terms, it can be said as the “Study of Society and Its interrelations”. Our society consists of Structures, institutions, norms and Values. Sociology is a discipline revolving around these aspects only. For instance Institution of family, Marriage and Kinship; Politics and society, Religion and society etc. Matter of fact I think sociology is in build in all of us and we are sociologists in ourselves because we as individuals try to make sense of the norms, values, institutions in and around us. That’s why sociology is an easy subject as we have been growing within the society and have been trying to make sense of things around us.
UPSC Mains Sociology Syllabus Paper – I:
FUNDAMENTALS OF SOCIOLOGY
(a) Modernity and social changes in Europe and emergence of sociology.
(b) Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences.
(c) Sociology and common sense.
(a) Science, scientific method and critique.
(b) Major theoretical strands of research methodology.
(c) Positivism and its critique.
(d) Fact value and objectivity.
(e) Non- positivist methodologies.
(a) Qualitative and quantitative methods.
(b) Techniques of data collection.
(c) Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.
(a) Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.
(b) Emile Durkheim- Division of labour, social fact, suicide, religion and society.
(c) Max Weber- Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.
(d) Talcolt Parsons- Social system, pattern variables.
(e) Robert K. Merton- Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups.
(f) Mead – Self and identity.
(a) Concepts- equality, inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, poverty and deprivation.
(b) Theories of social stratification- Structural functionalist theory, Marxist theory, Weberian theory.
(c) Dimensions – Social stratification of class, status groups, gender, ethnicity and race.
(d) Social mobility- open and closed systems, types of mobility, sources and causes of mobility.
(a) The social organization of work in different types of society- slave society, feudal society, industrial /capitalist society.
(b) Formal and informal organization of work.
(c) Labour and society.
(a) Sociological theories of power.
(b) Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties.
(c) Nation, state, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology.
(d) Protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.
(a) Sociological theories of religion.
(b) Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults.
(c) Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
(a) Family, household, marriage.
(b) Types and forms of family.
(c) Lineage and descent.
(d) Patriarchy and sexual division of labour.
(e) Contemporary trends.
(a) Sociological theories of social change.
(b) Development and dependency.
(c) Agents of social change.
(d) Education and social change.
(e) Science, technology and social change.
Paper – II: INDIAN SOCIETY: STRUCTURE AND CHANGE
(i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society:
(a) Indology (GS. Ghurye).
(b) Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).
(c) Marxist sociology (A R Desai).
(ii) Impact of colonial rule on Indian society:
(a) Social background of Indian nationalism.
(b) Modernization of Indian tradition.
(c) Protests and movements during the colonial period.
(d) Social reforms
(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
(a) The idea of Indian village and village studies.
(b) Agrarian social structure – evolution of land tenure system, land reforms.
(ii) Caste System:
(a) Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
(b) Features of caste system.
(c) Untouchability – forms and perspectives.
(iii) Tribal communities in India:
(a) Definitional problems.
(b) Geographical spread.
(c) Colonial policies and tribes.
(d) Issues of integration and autonomy.
(iv) Social Classes in India:
(a) Agrarian class structure.
(b) Industrial class structure.
(c) Middle classes in India.
(v) Systems of Kinship in India:
(a) Lineage and descent in India.
(b) Types of kinship systems.
(c) Family and marriage in India.
(d) Household dimensions of the family.
(e) Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labour.
(vi) Religion and Society:
(a) Religious communities in India.
(b) Problems of religious minorities.
(i) Visions of Social Change in India:
(a) Idea of development planning and mixed economy.
(b) Constitution, law and social change.
(c) Education and social change.
(ii) Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:
(a) Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes.
(b) Green revolution and social change.
(c) Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture .
(d) Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.
(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
(a) Evolution of modern industry in India.
(b) Growth of urban settlements in India.
(c) Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
(d) Informal sector, child labour.
(e) Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
(iv) Politics and Society:
(a) Nation, democracy and citizenship.
(b) Political parties, pressure groups , social and political elite.
(c) Regionalism and decentralization of power.
(v) Social Movements in Modern India:
(a) Peasants and farmers movements.
(b) Women’s movement.
(c) Backward classes & Dalit movement.
(d) Environmental movements.
(e) Ethnicity and Identity movements.
(vi) Population Dynamics:
(a) Population size, growth, composition and distribution.
(b) Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.
(c) Population policy and family planning.
(d) Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
(a) The crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.
(b) Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
(c) Violence against women.
(d) Caste conflicts.
(e) Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
(f) Illiteracy and disparities in education.
Sociology as Optional
Now we already have a brief idea as to what is Sociology is all about and what is the syllabus that we have to cover. We will talk more about sociology syllabus after a while but before that let’s see why sociology has become such a popular optional subject. Let us discuss the advantages and disadvantages of sociology as optional in Civil service examinations. These advantages have been mentioned by Candidates who have tried their hand on multiple optional subjects. So let’s get started
Disadvantages of this optional are very few. But let us look at a few of them.
So these are advantages and disadvantages of Sociology as optional. The best thing is disadvantages can be overcome if one has an interest in the subject and is willing to explore the various facets of society with an analytical prism. Moreover one can always get help in scoring exceptional marks in Sociology.
Hope this analysis helps you if you are thinking of choosing sociology for UPSC/PSC exams.
J.R.F Sociology, Civil service Mentor.
Sociology as optional for civil services has become very popular with more than 1/3 of the students appearing in the exam opting for the subject. But the success in the subject depends a lot on the mentoring given to the candidate. Subjective nature of Sociology is precisely why a candidate requires a subject specialist for its preparation. At O2 we strive to provide the best Sociology
optional programme with the most comprehensive coverage of the syllabus and from one of the best in the Field today.
Our sociology programme is spearheaded by Kuldeep Singh Topwal Sir. He has more than 5 years of experience in Civil service preparation and sociology optional. He has been guiding students at O2 for Social Issues and Essays too. In his preparation days, he has scored consistently well in sociology
(308/500 in UPSC-2015, 300/500 in UPSC-2016). Moreover, he has a deep sociological background with a Masters in Sociology and is currently a Junior research fellow at Panjab University. He has been consistently putting hard work and effort to bring the best out of students as far as sociology is
What makes studying sociology all the more fun and interactive is the way Kuldeep sir handles the subject and its nuances. He uses simple language and takes sociological examples from the surroundings to give a better grasp of the subject. Moreover, he uses recent case studies to consolidate the viewpoints of various topics. Classrooms debates are supplemented by hand-outs made by sir himself. Smart classrooms makes the learning even more effective. Finally, if Sociology is the subject you are thinking of taking for Civil services, we highly recommend you to meet Kuldeep sir in our Academy. We are sure that a lot of your queries will be sorted out and you would be able to take the best step forward with his guidance and mentoring.
“Learn Sociology from a Sociologist”
I am bombarded with a lot of queries regarding the sources and notes for sociology optional. So I am sharing the book lists and sources which I refer to my students and which I referred to during my preparation days. If read selectively, these books and sources will enrich your sociological thought and sharpen your social-analytical thinking. Moreover, you will also be able to better comprehend various social challenges faced by India and the world. Also, it will help you to write better answers as you will have access to scholarly thought on the topics asked and that too from different perspectives.
For PAPER-I (Introduction to Sociology)
OTHER REFERENCES AND BOOKS FOR STUDYING SOCIOLOGY OPTIONAL
Now before you jump on to the conclusion that these are way too much to study and start doubting your sociology decision, let me tell you that you do not need to read all the books and sources, they need to be referred to and not to be mugged page by page. You need to see the syllabus, understand it thoroughly a see the topics from the above-mentioned references. Core books like NCERTs are must be read line by line. While some topics like perspectives and Stratification are excellently explained in Haralambos. Similarly, social theory is excellently explained in Ritzer. IGNOU B.A material is also very good to get the basic understanding of Sociology.
Here again what will be your guiding light is the Syllabus of the exam (UPSC/ PSCs/ Allied exams/UGC-NET etc.) and the previous year question papers of the related exams. So analyse them thoroughly and use this material to prepare for sociology. Hope it will help you simplify your preparation.