The interaction between humans in society and the study of their relationships as a subject matter is known as sociology. It is a very vast subject dealing with human behavior in society, his countless interactions with the society, the purpose and intention of his behavior etc.
Sociology deals with
- Religion, caste and community aspects of society
- Human behavior and his changes towards society.
- Criminal mindsets and how society faces it.
- The role of families in society.
- Division of classes and associated cultures.
Sociology in UPSC exam – Optional Paper
- Paper 1 is more subjective and deals with the theories of sociology. Paper 2 deals by and large with Indian society.
- The subject is a good mix of concepts, related theories, socially relevant models, classic and modern theories, views from eminent thinkers in this area, quotations, facts etc.
- Since long, this particular paper has been considered a difficult one to attempt. Opinions vary amongst candidates.
- Syllabus is quite vast and exhaustive.
- Concepts in the subject are very interesting to study and understand.
- A large part of the syllabus is an extension of social science. To put it simple, it is a well researched and detailed study of social science.
- The paper is such that students from both science and humanities streams can attempt it. It is not meant exclusively for humanities alone.
- As the syllabus is vast, you will find detailed context and reference materials on almost all topics.
- People from unrelated backgrounds can also attempt this paper with ease.
- Remember, the paper has topics that are vast and diverse. But the difficulty level in understanding the concepts and putting them on paper is relatively simpler!
- Talk to a peer who has attempted sociology paper previously. Helps you in writing good answers.
- A minimum of 4 to 5 months is a good time to keep aside for Sociology.
- Pre-planning with a good time table helps finish the syllabus in time.
- Note down important points to help you put relevant things in their right place.
- Do not get carried away with the volume of the syllabus.
- Understanding these concepts could get you through the interview round without many hassles.
- Moderate level of everyday newspaper reading is recommended for this subject. The idea is to be familiar with latest developments in our society.
- Update yourself with current affairs.
- Identify topics that are mostly asked in papers over the years. Place more importance on these topics.
Why choose sociology as the optional subject?
- You can score good marks in this subject; all it requires is a good and clear understanding of the core topics.
- Easier to write answers in comprehension form in the paper, there is no need to look for points from different places.
- A large portion of the syllabus comes from general knowledge itself, detailed study can be conducted keeping these basic topics in the front list.
- Many questions overlap with history and general paper too!
- Essays on social issues are commonly expected questions. Sociology could help you in writing very good essays as well!
- Revision can be well structured with just an overview study of important listed topics.
Important books to refer
- ‘Sociology – Themes and Perspectives’ By Haralambos and Holborn.
- ‘Sociological Theory’ by George Ritzer.
- ‘Social change in modern India’ by M N Srinivas
- ‘Indian Sociological thought’ by B K Nagla
- ‘Social background of Indian nationalism’ by A R Desai.
Points to remember
- Note down all fundamental concepts of sociology in crisp and concise manner.
- Place importance on the contributions of eminent personalities like Karl Marx and Max Weber.
- Do not miss out on classical theories, modern theories and post modern theories.
- Definitions should have the most appropriate and relevant words in them.
- Supporting your answers with relevant examples, if any could add more value to your writing. Examples could be events or any society-led movements in the past.
Sociology Optional Syllabus – Explained in detail
Paper – I: Sociology Syllabus
FUNDAMENTALS OF SOCIOLOGY
1. Sociology – The Discipline
- Modernity and social changes in Europe and emergence of sociology.
- Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences.
- Sociology and common sense.
2. Sociology as Science
- Science, scientific method and critique.
- Major theoretical strands of research methodology.
- Positivism and its critique.
- Fact value and objectivity.
- Non- positivist methodologies.
3. Research Methods and Analysis
- Qualitative and quantitative methods.
- Techniques of data collection.
- Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.
4. Sociological Thinkers
- Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.
- Emile Durkheim- Division of labour, social fact, suicide, religion and society.
- Max Weber- Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.
- Talcolt Parsons- Social system, pattern variables.
- Robert K. Merton- Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups.
- Mead – Self and identity.
5. Stratification and Mobility
- Concepts- 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.
6. Works and Economic Life
- Social organization of work in different types of society- slave society, feudal society, industrial /capitalist society.
- Formal and informal organization of work.
- Labour and society.
7. Politics and Society
- Sociological 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.
8. Religion and Society
- Sociological theories of religion.
- Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults.
- Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
9. Systems of Kinship
- Family, household, marriage.
- Types and forms of family.
- Lineage and descent.
- Patriarchy and sexual division of labour.
- Contemporary trends.
10. Social Change in Modern Society
- Sociological theories of social change.
- Development and dependency.
- Agents of social change.
- Education and social change.
- Science, technology and social change.
Paper – II: Sociology Syllabus
INDIAN SOCIETY: STRUCTURE AND CHANGE
A. Introducing Indian Society
(i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society:
- Indology (GS. Ghurye).
- Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).
- Marxist sociology (A R Desai).
(ii) Impact of colonial rule on Indian society:
- Social background of Indian nationalism.
- Modernization of Indian tradition.
- Protests and movements during the colonial period.
- Social reforms.
B. Social Structure
(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
- The idea of Indian village and village studies.
- Agrarian social structure – evolution of land tenure system, land reforms.
(ii) Caste System:
- Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
- Features of caste system.
- Untouchability – forms and perspectives.
(iii) Tribal communities in India:
- Definitional problems.
- Geographical spread.
- Colonial policies and tribes.
- Issues of integration and autonomy.
(iv) Social Classes in India:
- Agrarian class structure.
- Industrial class structure.
- Middle classes in India.
(v) Systems of Kinship in India:
- Lineage and descent in India.
- Types of kinship systems.
- Family and marriage in India.
- Household dimensions of the family.
- Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labour.
(vi) Religion and Society:
- Religious communities in India.
- Problems of religious minorities.
C. Social Changes in India:
(i) Visions of Social Change in India:
- Idea of development planning and mixed economy.
- Constitution, law and social change.
- Education and social change.
(ii) Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:
- Programmes 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.
(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
- Evolution 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.
(iv) Politics and Society:
- Nation, democracy and citizenship.
- Political parties, pressure groups , social and political elite.
- Regionalism and decentralization of power.
(v) Social Movements in Modern India:
- Peasants and farmers movements.
- Women’s movement.
- Backward classes & Dalit movement.
- Environmental movements.
- Ethnicity and Identity movements.
(vi) Population Dynamics:
- Population 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.
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
- Crisis 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.