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Sociology is considered one of the most popular optional subjects of UPSC CSE. Sociology is an interdisciplinary discipline. It covers the major themes of General Studies Paper-1 and offers a more comprehensive view of social issues . It has a clear and precise syllabus with overlapping themes with General Studies Paper 1 and 2. Sociology has been one of the highest-scoring subjects over the years. Lots of quality study material and Expert Guidance are available on this subject and students can have easy access to them.
Paper 1 of Sociology Optional deals with Key Sociological ideas, theories and research methods in Sociology. Paper 2 largely covers in-depth, comprehensive understanding of Indian Societies, including Caste, Kinship, religion, Politics and an understanding of social Institutions, Public policies, Demography, Social Problems and Social Changes.
Besides carrying a direct Interface, with Social Issues component, the Subject has a significant overlap with General Studies Paper II( Social Justice), General Studies Paper III ( Public Policies, Planning and Development Issues) and General Studies Paper-IV( Ethics). Every year at least one Essay comes from Sociology theme directly and Social Philosophy also offers lots of inputs for writing the dynamic Essays that are being asked by UPSC over the years.
Download: Sociology Optional Syllabus
Sociology has been one of the sought-after optional subjects for the candidates preparing for UPSC. This optional is chosen by students across the board, including engineering, medicine, management, law, literature and social science. The popularity of the subject can be attributed to the comprehensive nature of the syllabus and the interface of the course with the everyday life of the people. The subject has been giving consistent results in UPSC for the last three decades, and the success percentage of the subject is highest across the board. Many optional subjects do have their peaks and bottoms, but Sociology results are always steady. Every year, among the students who opt for Sociology optional subject, one to two candidates secure a rank in the first ten and five to ten candidates secure a place in the first hundred.
Sociology has a shorter, simpler, and limited syllabus compared to other subjects, and the materials are readily available in the market. This is particularly helpful as a student can complete and comprehensively revise the syllabus before the examination. More importantly, students can develop perfection by practising the answers multiple times. The subject is very popular among students because it automatically prepares students for General Studies Papers. It covers one-third of the GS paper-1 syllabus. Sociological inputs can be used to answer questions on freedom struggle, Indian society and culture, the role of women, environment, population and migration. agriculture, cooperatives, rural development, and the dynamics of the Panchayati Raj system. There are also similarities of parts of the themes spread in GS-2 and GS-3 papers, where Sociology provides a perspective in critical evaluation of government policies, development, Non-Governmental Organizations, Welfare Schemes, poverty and hunger, land reforms, inclusive growth, science, technology and social change. Sociology has an interface with ethics, specifically in the areas of Western and Indian Philosophers, ethnical governance and moral values, covering a portion of GS paper 4. Additionally, preparing for Sociology as an optional paper automatically helps in preparation for the essay paper as one essay is asked on social issues. As Sociology requires the students to constantly reflect on social issues and their contemporary manifestations surrounding them, it helps in the interview round as the students will be able to give reflexively richer answers to issues of current concern. Sociology as a subject helps students develop mature thinking about society and its issues; this helps in answering critical questions during the interview.
Sociology is food for thought. It gives a holistic explanation of events, problems, programs and issues at local, national and international levels. It gives an exclusive insight to interpret issues and explain the same in an analytical manner, which is a distinctive trait to answer various questions at the interview stage. Therefore, Sociology is not just a subject, rather it is a package that carries a strong interface with overall preparation for civil service examination.
The popularity of Sociology can also be attributed to the scoring patterns. Since it is a thinking and analytical subject, there is a great possibility that candidates can write creative, innovative answers. Stereotypical, duplicative and routine answers do not work for Sociology students. The subject has stood out in relation to its sister discipline in terms of its appeal, content delivery, and scoring pattern. It is very difficult to get a zero in sociology, one has to really work hard for it. Sociology carries a short and comprehensive syllabus with a lot of correspondence between paper 1 and paper 2 that makes the subject easy to understand, comprehend, collate and express in a systematic and effective manner.
1. Sociology - The Discipline:
(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.
2. Sociology as Science:
(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.
3. Research Methods and Analysis:
(a) Qualitative and quantitative methods.
(b) Techniques of data collection.
(c) Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.
4. Sociological Thinkers:
(a) Karl Marx - Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.
(b) Emile Durkhteim - 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.
5. Stratification and Mobility :
(a) Concepts - equality, inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, poverty and deprivation.
(b) Theories of social stratification - Structural func tionalist 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.
6. Works and Economic Life :
(a) Social organisation of work in different types of society - slave society, feudal society, industrial capitalist society.
(b) Formal and informal organisation of work.
(c) Labour and society.
7. Politics 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.
8. Religion and Society :
(a) Sociological theories of religion.
(b) Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults.
(c) Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularisation, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
9. Systems of Kinship:
(a) Family, household, marriage.
(b) Types and forms of family.
(c) Lineage and descent.
(d) Patriarchy and sexual division of labour.
(e) Contemporary trends.
10. Social Change in Modern Society :
(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.
INDIAN SOCIETY: STRUCTURE AND CHANGE
(i) Perspectives on the Study of Indian Society :
(a) Indology (G.S. Ghure).
(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: G. S. 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 mobilisation.
(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 decentralisation of power.
(v) Social Movements in Modern India :
(a) Peasants and farmers movements.
(b) Women’s movement.
(c) Backward classes & Dalit movements.
(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) 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.
There are three broad areas in the paper-1 of Sociology optional subject. The origin of Sociology during the Enlightenment period with the arrival of modernity. This part of the syllabus covers the emergence of sociological ideas as a distinctive perspective, borrowing from other disciplines and expanding its scope of studies. The second part of the paper 1 is about Sociology as a science, scientific methods and methodology of social sciences. In this part, students learn about doing scientific research on society. Rather than a mechanized approach to human behaviour, the sociological approach articulates alternative methods that emphasize empathy, values and respecting peoples’ culture. The third part of paper-1 is about social institutions and social change, where the students learn about social institutions, such as marriage, family, religion, political institutions such as government, political parties, and democracy and ideas like secularism and their contemporary situation. The students are also taught the historical and contemporary dimensions of social change and how to understand the magnitude and intensity of change and social transformation.
Paper 2 of the Sociology optional can be broadly divided into two parts. The first part consists of sociological studies on Indian society, which also involves the colonial understanding of India. The second part is mostly about issues and problems of Indian society. Both the parts have relevance to general studies papers.
Preparation requires three stages, i.e. information gathering stage, integration stage, and presentation. Information gathering of authentic materials and quality and authentic inputs are required. It is necessary to process these inputs. Since Sociology covers everything under the sky, therefore, it is important to go for a systematic preparation. One can use newspapers to update on issues of contemporary significance and critically evaluate everyday life issues through the sociology of events happening around us. Every topic has a different source material, and because of the paucity of time, the students cannot read all these diverse materials. Therefore, they need expert guidance. After expert advice, the students will fall in love with the subject. At this stage, most of the issues with preparation will be over. Since classroom materials and study materials are prepared by University Professors, the information is authentic; the content is rich, narratives are lucid. The students require expert guidance to integrate ideas from different chapters of Sociology. Every chapter of the subject is related to each other. Students should get the know-how to relate to the chapters, which is why test series are organized. The subject experts gather the content from diverse sources and integrate them with clear, simple and precise language for the students to understand and process. They help the students to understand various dimensions of the problem and provide them with a theoretical understanding from the lens of Sociology.
The Sociology Optional Test series is prepared with an in-depth study of the previous year's questions with an eye on the trends in question patterns. The questions are carefully selected from topics from which questions have been asked previously and blended with current affairs. The test series prepares the students to be able to apply the theoretical and conceptual aspects of Sociology to the contemporary context. This helps them internalise the concepts and use their imagination to apply them to understand issues and concerns of contemporary nature. Expert mentoring prepares them with guidance to approach the questions in a balanced manner and process the information to write a responsive answer.
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