Sociology for UPSC – To the Point


Sociology Optional Upcoming Batch: 28th Oct., 2023 by Bibhash Sharma

What is Sociology?

Sociology is a discipline revolving around social aspects such as Institution of family, Marriage and Kinship; Politics and society, Religion and society etc. Sociology UPSC is one of the 48 Optional Subjects available for UPSC mains examination. The Sociology Optional can be prepared easily with proper strategy and understanding of the syllabus. It is one of the most preferred choice for Optional syllabus by the civil service aspirants. Sociology is in-build in all of us since we try to make sense of the norms, values, institutions in and around us. That’s why sociology for UPSC is an easy subject as we have been growing within the society and have been trying to make sense of things around us.

What Is the Significance Of Choosing Sociology As An Optional Subject? 

  • Sociology is a very interesting subject and easy to understand. 
  • It has a relatively short syllabus, which can be completed in a span of 3 months and is considered a safe optional with respect to marks. 
  • It has good overlap with general studies and helps in essay paper as well.
  • Aspirant can score good marks in sociology UPSC optional with adequate preparation and confirm their name in the final list. 
  • It offers great scoring potential as one can easily score 300+ marks with decent writing practice.
  • 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.
  • The subject most generalized doesn’t need a background of Sociology.
  • It introduces the aspirant with the societal norms and practices making him efficient in understanding and evaluating the policy decisions. 
  • Sociology also helps in the ethics paper particularly the case studies part where you can apply your understanding of sociology to write better solutions and recommendations in the answer.
  • Thus, Sociology is considered one of the easy to score optional subject. 

What is the Pattern of Sociology Optional?

  • Sociology Optional syllabus for UPSC Main Examination is divided into Paper-1 and Paper-2.
  • Paper I of Sociology deals with the fundamentals of Sociology where Paper II of Sociology optional deals with the Indian society, its structure, and change. 
  • Each Sociology paper consists of 250 marks.
  • The duration for each Sociology mains paper is 3 hours.

Why Sociology Is Good As An Optional Subject For UPSC? 

  1. The Scope of the Sociology is limited and it can be prepared with ease within precise period. The aspirants must understand the scope of Optional syllabus to get clear idea about the length and coverage of topics. By analysing the syllabus, aspirants will get detail idea of the topics to be covered. Considering the length of the Optional subjects and the General studies subjects to be covered, Sociology provides a balanced way to cover the vast UPSC Syllabus. 
  2. There is a good availability of material for Sociology Optional: – In UPSC mains examination, Sociology for UPSC Optional subject comprises of 500 marks. To cover such a high marking subject, the aspirants need a good amount resource for every topic. There is a vast variety of Sociology content available in the market. Quality Sociology study material is available for an optional subject on internet and offline mode.
  3. The achievement ratio of Sociology Optional is decently stable over last few years. Sociology is a descent Optional subject with high achievement ratio. Many aspirants have secured good ranks with sociology optional subject
  4. Sociology overlaps with the General Study and Essay Syllabus. An aspirant should consider the same topics that are to be covered from the Optional Syllabus and the General studies syllabus. The aspirants can choose Sociology as their Optional subject since it have more overlapping topics with General Studies and Essay paper. This will reduce the time to read the same topic and enhance the writing capability of the aspirant.

Strategy To Study the Sociology Optional?

  1. Analyze the Syllabus: – The first step towards clearing the IAS exam is understanding the syllabus. Get the Syllabus of Sociology optional and make sure you read it once daily. This will help the early birds on focusing the syllabus points while reading Newspapers and reference books. Thus, the time spent on the topics which are not related to the syllabus will be saved.
  2. Analyze Previous Year Questions: – Once the syllabus is understood, the next step is to analyze the patterns and sources of questions asked in the previous questions asked in Sociology Optional. The aspirants should study the previous year questions for both, Paper 1 and Paper 2.
  3. Limit the Sources: – The aspirants should make a list of books and sources they have to refer for Paper 1 and Paper 2. They should strictly limit the sources. Instead of reading multiple sources the aspirants should read same source multiple times.
  4. Prepare concise Notes: – To raise the efficiency of their preparation, the early birds should consider making their notes. This will be beneficial in retaining the important points of any topic that has been read from different sources. Besides, it will also help in establishing the interconnection of Current Affairs with different points in the syllabus. But the aspirants should also take care that the notes should be precise and in a format that is easy to revise.
  5. Value addition: – The IAS exam demands the aspirants to be up to the mark in terms of current data which may be the latest Report, Indices, Study, or any government Initiative. To increase the weightage of your answers, especially in UPSC Mains Optional Writing, the aspirants should take extra efforts in value addition in every sub-topic of the syllabus. This can be simply done by adding any latest national or international report or any case study in the topic.
  6. Focus on multiple revisions: – The aspirants should focus on dedicating a fixed time every day for revision of the topics studied in a day. The focus should be on revising each source material 3 times before the Mains exam. This will help to recollect the vast information about different topics and improve their learning capabilities and build confidence.
  7. Practice Optional Mock Tests: – The most important part of Optional preparation is Solving the Mock Tests. The aspirants should start solving the Optional Test Series only after completion and revision of the optional material. The reason behind this is that without revision the aspirants will not be able to recall the information while solving the questions. It will only add to the ambiguity in the preparation and lower their morale.

How To Write Good Answers in Sociology Optional Paper?

One needs to have good answer writing practice to write well-structured answers and to score well in Sociology optional. One can start with attempting previous year questions. Once you complete the syllabus, do join a good test series. Following are some of the basic tips to make your answer good and unique: –

  1. Try to present the content in points and well-structured format with a proper introduction, body and conclusion.
  2. Focus both on the content as well as structure to write a good Sociology answer. 
  3. Use various data, highlights of govt reports, indexes, case studies etc to enhance the quality of your answers. You can also draw diagrams and tables wherever possible.
  4. Focus on the keywords in the question and address all the parts.
  5. Provide a balanced conclusion for the question. Include both sides of the arguments.  For example- If one has to critically examine in particular question then also you must write about the relevance of that particular thing briefly.
  6. Practice questions from Previous Years, Test Series, or Online Platforms.
  7. Answers should be clear, lucid and to the point.
  8. Try to mention at least 1 or 2 Sociological Theories and Thinkers in each answer. Sociological terms are MUST to be used in answers.
  9. Use of Data, reports from Current affairs to add value.
  10. Mention views and statements of various thinkers and social researchers wherever possible but do not overdo it.
  11. Point format, diagrams, flow charts, underlining important terms – enhance visibility of the point you have made in your answer.
  12. Answer the question with multiple dimensions. Try to outline the Political, Social, Economic, cultural, Environmental aspect of the topic.
  13. Try to develop linkages between various sub-topics of the syllabus.
  14. Add relevant current affairs in Sociology answers to reflect uour in-depth understanding of the subject. 

There is no right and wrong stated answer to a particular question in Sociology, it is completely based on one’s understanding and writing skills. So, one has to master the art of how to write a well-structured, contextual, relevant, multi-dimensional, balanced and unique answer in a limited span of time.

Important Books for Sociology UPSC

Paper 1

  1. Classical Sociological Theory by George Ritzer
  2. Sociology Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn (Blue book)
  3. Sociology Themes and Perspectives by M Haralambos with R M Heald(Orange book)
  4. Sociology by Anthony Giddens
  5. The above books are required to develop a good understanding of the subject. These books are to be read selectively according to syllabus topics.

Paper 2

  1. Handbook of Indian Sociology by Veena Das
  2. Modernisation of Indian Tradition by Yogendra Singh
  3. Social change in modern India by M N Srinivas
  4. Sociological Background of Indian Nationalism by A R Desai
  5. Indian Society by S C Dube
  6. Caste in Indian politics by Rajni Kothari
  7. Caste by Surinder Jodhka

What are the Focus Areas of the Sociology Optional For UPSC?

  1. UPSC Syllabus – The aspirants should memorize the syllabus and connect the different areas of syllabus whenever you read current affairs. Complete analysis of syllabus is important to understand what this subject consists of. 
  2. Basic Notes – Refer to the basic notes. The aspirants can prepare short notes of the bigger notes which can help them to memorise the concepts and thinkers.
  3. NCERTs – NCERT plays a significant role always. They are simplest of all and gives the most basic clarity about the subject. 
  4. Book Essential Sociology by Nitin Sangwan – This is an important book which covers the entire syllabus in very short form. It helps to fill the gaps in preparation.
  5. Previous Year Papers – The aspirants should go through at least 10 years UPSC Sociology papers. Most Important to understand the “WHAT” of the exam. Previous year question papers give clear understanding of this “WHAT”. This will help in practicing answer writing as well as covering the uncovered areas of syllabus.
  6. Test Series – Test series are crucial part of Optional preparation as they add to practice. They also provide more examples to quote in exam.

What are the tips to enhance Sociology Optional Preparation for UPSC? 

  1. Make small notes: The aspirants should make crisp and small notes for Sociology. This will help them to easily revise the whole syllabus.
  2. Practice answer Writing: The aspirants should be able to apply concepts and theories at right place. For this answer writing practice is crucial. This will also help them to analyse how a basic structure of answers works. 
  3. Adding relevant current affairs: For relevant facts and figures, read editorials in newspapers such as Hindu and Indian express. The aspirants should learn to interrelate concepts with real-time situations to enhance their answers.

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