Strategy for Sociology Optional for UPSC

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Sociology Optional for UPSC: Optional subjects are important when studying for the UPSC Civil Services Exam. An applicant for the UPSC mains exam must select one optional topic from a list of 48 options. In the UPSC test, the optional subject is worth 500 points out of a possible 1000. A poor choice of optional can result in low scores, putting your prospects of selection in jeopardy. Since a few years, the Sociology optional has emerged as the safest and most popular option among UPSC mains exam candidates. For this optional, the success rate has been outstanding. In terms of grades, one should expect to receive 315 to 350 in this optional.

Another advantage of this option is that it overlaps significantly with the General Studies syllabus in the mains test, allowing you to save time on the general studies paper. Because of its sociological roots, the subject might also aid you in personality tests where there are many questions about societal problems and issues. When selecting this option, various factors must be considered, such as academic background, benefits compared to other options, score potential, and so on.

What are the Advantages of taking Sociology Optional?

  1. Identifying Potential: According to recent patterns, Sociology as an optional for UPSC mains has a high score potential, which is one of the main reasons for its popularity. The sociology optional has a high success rate as well, as evidenced by the fact that many of the toppers with this option are sociologists.
  2. Syllabus con condensed: The syllabus is quite short and concise, and the entire coverage can be completed in 3-4 months.
  3. There is a lot of study material available: There is a scarcity of study materials and resources for this optional. There is an abundance of both online and offline material that may be used across numerous media.
  4. There is no need to have any prior experience: This optional has no academic base, thus any applicant, regardless of their background, can take it even if they have little or no knowledge of sociology. Due to ideas such as family, religion, and others, this issue is frequently featured in newspapers.

How the Sociology Overlaps with General Studies and Other Papers?

Sociology Optional for UPSC: GS and other papers, such as essays, have a lot in common with sociology optional. For example, in General Studies Paper 1, sociology-related topics can be worth 40–50 points.

Similarly, issues such as welfare initiatives, depressed and vulnerable sector linked issues, NGOs and other social institutions, issues related to poverty and hunger, and so on can be found coherent in General Studies Paper 2.

Land reforms in India, comprehensive development and challenges that arise from it, Naxalism and Maoism and their impact on society, globalisation, industrialization, and privatisation and their impact on society, and so on are all topics covered in General Studies Paper 3.

Human Values—the role of family, community, and educational institutions in instilling values; reformers and administrators—lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders are just a few of the topics covered in General Studies paper 4 with Sociology as an alternative. Similarly, there are numerous sections in the sociology syllabus that overlap with the essay syllabus.

Strategy to Prepare for Sociology Optional for UPSC Exams

Because of its broad scope, Sociology Optional is a popular choice among UPSC applicants. However, without expert assistance, there are a number of theories that might be quite difficult to comprehend. As a result, if you don’t have a mentor or senior who can help you with the subject, it’s critical to seek outside assistance. Following that, you can utilise the following strategy to improve your preparation:

  • Properly analyse the syllabus: First and foremost, it is critical to carefully mind-map the course. Go over the full syllabus once or twice to make sure you understand the topics you need to cover in each section.
  • Begin with the NCERTs: Sociology is initially introduced in Class XIth. As a result, the NCERTs for Class XIth and XIIth will be immensely useful in gaining a fundamental comprehension of the subject. To grasp the subject’s fundamental concepts, go over the NCERTs once or twice.
  • Look over prior year’s papers: Examine past year’s papers to get a sense of the types of questions that will be asked in the syllabus. After that, go over the toppers’ answer scripts to see how they wrote their answers.
  • Finish the curriculum: Next, go over the syllabus topic by topic with the help of the standard texts. Make tiny notes for all of the topics that you will need to review quickly.
  • Revision and Answer-writing Practice: Once you’ve covered roughly 60-70 percent of the material, begin practising answering questions. Begin by answering questions from the previous year, and then move on to mock examinations.
  • Full-Length Examinations: It is critical to learn time management through writing full-length exams. You should practise answering all of the questions within the three-hour time limit. As a result, ensure that you write complete tests in a simulated environment.
  • Good Answer Writing: A good attitude to and practise with answer writing always bears fruit and translates into good grades. You can attempt the previous year’s questions paper to get a fair appraisal of your performance and preparation level. A good exam series will be a litmus test of your performance when you finish the UPSC syllabus. Continue to learn from your failures and cultivate a do-it-yourself mentality, which is the key to ongoing improvement. Answer writing abilities, including proper structuring and format, must be instilled.

Standard Book List for Sociology Optional

Due to its concise syllabus, Sociology Optional is one of the most popular optional subjects among UPSC hopefuls. This option’s materials are likewise widely available. The paper-by-paper booklist for sociology optional is as follows:

  1. 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

Syllabus of Sociology Optional

Sociology Optional for UPSC: The UPSC Main Examination Sociology Optional subject is separated into Paper-1 and Paper-2. While Paper 1 focuses on fundamental sociological concepts, Paper 2 is primarily concerned with Indian society. For your convenience, we’ve compiled a topic-by-topic sociology optional syllabus.

Paper 1: Fundamentals of Sociology

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

Paper 2: Indian Society: Structure and Change

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

General Framework for Sociology Optional Answer

  • For crafting a solid answer, both substance and structure are necessary. Always make an effort to convey your views in a well-structured manner, with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Concentrate on the question’s keywords and answer all of the portions.
  • Always strive to write a well-balanced response. For example, if you are required to critically investigate a certain subject, you must also quickly discuss the relevance of that particular item.
  • The solution should be multi-faceted in character. To do so, make an effort to create connections between the syllabus’s numerous subtopics.
  • Wherever feasible, include the opinions and assertions of diverse intellectuals and social researchers, but don’t go overboard.
  • To improve the quality of your responses, you can use diverse statistics, highlights from government papers, indexes, case studies, and so on.
  • A candidate’s ability to incorporate current events into Sociology responses reflects his or her in-depth knowledge of the topic. This also adds some individuality to one’s responses.
  • You can also draw diagrams and tables wherever possible.

Structures for Sociology Answer: –

  1. Introduction: There are several definitions for deviance; Durkheim and Merton both have their own, or you can use a general definition; if a thinker is referenced in the question, apply his or her definition.
  2. Explain the notion: Mention the thinker and elaborate the concept (Durkheim’s Functional view, Merton’s conceptions for Deviance, Marxists, Labelling theory, if time/space allows).
  3. If any come to mind, give an example that is relevant to current events: (you might talk about how black people are frequently labelled as deviants and how this relates to the George Floyd event)
  4. Positive Criticism- Why the concept makes sense (Durkheim – deviance is higher during economic uncertainty, such as the COVID situation, Marxists – deviance is any behaviour against the ruling class (major scandals like Volkswagen and Enron get off lightly while smaller ones don’t), Labelling – most poor, marginal communities are over-represented in prisons).
  5. Why Does Negative Criticism Make Sense? Use the Marxist standpoint to attack Durkheim’s functional view. Use the phenomenological view to criticise Merton’s viewpoint. He doesn’t explain why just certain people become deviant, or how deviant behaviour is defined in the first place.

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