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

Sociology as an Optional Subject For UPSC (With Short Syllabus)

Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions. Sociology’s subject matter is diverse, ranging from crime to religion, from the family to the state, from the divisions of race and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture, and from social stability to radical change in whole societies. When it comes to Sociology Optional for UPSC IAS Exam, it plays an important role in deciding the rank of candidates in UPSC IAS Exam.

The Sociology optional syllabus is short and crisp syllabus. It is easy to understand. Besides there is a good availability of dynamic resources. Thus, Sociology optional is one of the highly popular optional subjects among the UPSC aspirants. Anu Kumari (AIR 2 in IAS Exam 2017) is one of the most famous toppers who had Sociology as an optional subject.

Many aspirants choose Sociology as an optional for UPSC IAS Mains Exam as it is easy to understand and is scoring. The theoretical knowledge of the subject has huge applied potential. Since it is easy to understand in terms of concepts, even science background students can attempt it safely.

Benefits of choosing Sociology as Optional: –

  • Sociology is considered as one of the easiest optional subjects.
  • It is a pure social science and is very popular among arts and humanities students.
  • This subject has been highly consistent among the top rankers over the years.
  • Sociology has a shorter syllabus.
  • The subject helps with the essay paper since generally at least one essay is asked about social issues.
  • It offers great scoring potential as one can easily score 300+ marks with decent writing practice.
  • It introduces the aspirant with the societal norms and practices making him efficient in understanding and evaluating the policy decisions.
  • Besides, it will also help in the interview round.

You can also read: Geography Optional Syllabus

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.

Sociology Exam Pattern: –

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.

Paper 1: Fundamentals of Sociology

Sociology – The Discipline1. Modernity and social changes in Europe and the emergence of sociology.2. Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences.3. Sociology and common sense.
Sociology as Science1. Science, scientific method and critique.2. Major theoretical strands of research methodology.3. Positivism and its critique.4. Fact value and objectivity.5. Non- positivist methodologies.
Research Methods and Analysis1. Qualitative and quantitative methods.2. Techniques of data collection.3. Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability, and validity.
Sociological Thinkers1. Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.2. Emile Durkheim- Division of labor, social fact, suicide, religion, and society.3. Max Weber- Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, the protestant ethic, and the spirit of capitalism.4. Talcott Parsons- Social system, pattern variables.5. Robert K. Merton- Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups.6. Mead – Self and identity.                       
Stratification and Mobility1. Concepts- equality, inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, poverty and deprivation.2. Theories of social stratification- Structural functionalist theory, Marxist theory, Weberian theory.3. Dimensions – Social stratification of class, status groups, gender, ethnicity and race.4. Social mobility- open and closed systems, types of mobility, sources and causes of mobility.
Works and Economic Life1. Social organization of work in different types of society- slave society, feudal society, industrial /capitalist society.2. Formal and informal organization of work.3. Labour and society.
 Politics and Society1. Sociological theories of power.2. Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties.3. Nation, state, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology.4. Protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.
Religion and Society1. Sociological theories of religion.2. Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults.3. Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
Systems of Kinship1. Family, household, marriage.2. Types and forms of family.3. Lineage and descent.4. Patriarchy and sexual division oflabour.5. Contemporary trends.
Social Change in Modern Society1. Sociological theories of social change.2. Development and dependency.3. Agents of social change.4. Education and social change.5. Science, technology and social change.

Paper 2 Syllabus : Indian Society: Structure and Change

Introducing Indian SocietyPerspectives on the study of Indian society1. Indology (GS. Ghurye).2. Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).3. Marxist sociology (A R Desai).
Impact of colonial rule on Indian society1. Social background of Indian nationalism.2. Modernization of Indian tradition.3. Protests and movements during the colonial period.4. Social reforms.
Social StructureRural and Agrarian Social Structure1. The idea of Indian village and village studies.2. Agrarian social structure – evolution of land tenure system, land reforms
Caste System1. Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.2. Features of caste system.3. Untouchability – forms and perspectives.
Tribal communities in India1. Definitional problems.2. Geographical spread.3. Colonial policies and tribes.4. Issues of integration and autonomy.
Social Classes in India1. Agrarian class structure.2. Industrial class structure.3. Middle classes in India
Systems of Kinship in India1. Lineage and descent in India.2. Types of kinship systems.3. Family and marriage in India.4. Household dimensions of the family.
 Religion and Society1. Religious communities in India.2. Problems of religious minorities.3. Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labor
Social Changes in IndiaVisions of Social Change in India1. Idea of development planning and mixed economy.2. Constitution, law and social change.3. Education and social change.
Rural and Agrarian transformation in India1. Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes.2. Green revolution and social change.3. Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture .4. Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.
Industrialization and Urbanisation in India1. Evolution of modern industry in India.2. Growth of urban settlements in India.3. Working-class: structure, growth, class mobilization.4. Informal sector, child labour.5. Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
Politics and Society1. Nation, democracy and citizenship.2. Political parties, pressure groups, social and political elite.3. Regionalism and decentralization of power.4. Secularization
Social Movements in Modern India1. Peasants and farmers movements.2. Women’s movement.3. Backward classes & Dalit movement.4. Environmental movements.5. Ethnicity and Identity movements.
Population Dynamics1. Population size, growth, composition and distribution.2. Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.3. Population policy and family planning.4. Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.
Challenges of Social Transformation1. Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.2. Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.3. Violence against women.4. Caste conflicts.5. Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.6. Illiteracy and disparities in education.

Booklist for Sociology Optional Paper 1:

  • Introduction to Sociology by Anthony Giddens
  • Sociological Theory by George Ritzer
  • Sociology Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos & Holborn
  • A Dictionary of Sociology by John Scott
  • Sociological Thought by Francis Abraham and John Henry Morgan
  • An Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba

Booklist for Sociology Optional Paper 2:

  • Social Change in Modern India by M N Srinivas
  • Caste Its Twentieth Century Avatar by M N Srinivas
  • Handbook of Indian Sociology by Veena Das
  • Indian Society: Themes and Social Issues by Nadeem Hasnain
  • Modernization of Indian Tradition by Yogendra Singh
  • Rural Sociology by S.L Doshi and P.C Jain
  • Social Background of Indian Nationalism by A R Desai

Useful Readings: