UPSC applicants often choose sociology as an optional. The subject is unique in that it appeals to candidates with backgrounds in both science and humanities. This optional can be taken by anyone; no prior knowledge of the subject is required. This subject is also considered to be high-scoring, especially if the proper strategy and tactics are used during the preparation process. You may learn everything you need to know about the sociology option in this article, including the syllabus, booklist, and approach.
Who Should Take Sociology as an Optional Subject in the IAS (UPSC CSE) Exam?
In IAS Mains, selecting an Optional for Mains is a crucial task. Choosing the right optional will put you on a more solid path to a higher rank, with 500 marks out of 2025. Here are some reasons why every candidate should take sociology as an optional:
- Paper II in sociology is mostly a practical paper. Its facts must be supported by compelling evidence.
- Because most recent improvements and associated research papers have been appearing in IAS Mains on a regular basis, Current Affairs is also useful in this area.
- For the preparation of Sociology as an optional subject, no specialised or academic experience is required.
- Numerous pieces of evidence suggest that candidates with no prior experience in Sociology have received great marks.
- Thinker’s paper is the name given to the first sociology paper. It is a theoretical work because it includes six thinkers: Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, R.K. Merton, and Mead.
Advantages of the Sociology Optional (UPSC CSE)
Candidates, before choosing Sociology as an optional subject in the IAS (UPSC CSE) test, consider the following advantages of Sociology:
- Short Syllabus: Because of the brevity of the syllabus, any candidate, depending on their interests and intellectual abilities, can complete it in as little as four months.
- Sociology is often regarded as one of the most non-technical scoring subjects, which is one of the key reasons for its popularity in the IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains test.
- Educational Background: It makes no difference what your educational background is. Candidates with any educational background who have a rudimentary understanding of various sociological topics such as family, religion, and so on may find it intriguing.
Overlap in UPSC GS Paper-I:
There are various themes in General Studies Paper-I that overlap with the optional subject, such as
- The consequences of political philosophies such as capitalism, communism, and socialism on society.
- Highlights of Indian society, India’s diversity
- Globalization’s effects on Indian culture.
- Women’s roles and organisations, poverty and development issues, population and related challenges, and urbanisation are all discussed.
- Social empowerment, communalism, secularism, and regionalism
Overlap in UPSC GS Paper-II:
The following is a list of popular subjects for General Studies Paper-II:
- The role of pressure groups and formal/informal associations in the polity.
- Welfare plans for disadvantaged groups of the population, as well as methods, laws, organisations, and bodies established for their protection and improvement.
- The role of NGOs, SHGs, diverse groups and organisations, funders, charities, institutional and other stakeholders in development processes and the development industry
- Human Resources, Education
- Health-related issues connected to the development and management of the social sector.
- In a democracy, civil services are important.
- Poverty and hunger-related issues.
Overlap in UPSC GS Paper-III:
Some of the themes in UPSC General Studies Paper-III overlap with sociology. The following are the topis:
- India’s land reforms.
- Comprehensive development and the challenges that arise as a result of it.
- Naxalism is a relationship between the development and spread of extremism.
- Changes in industrial policy, the economic effects of liberalisation, and the impact on industrial growth.
Overlap in UPSC GS Paper-IV:
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 some of the common subjects in UPSC General Studies Paper-IV.
Disadvantages in Sociology Optional
- It does not have the same potential for scoring as other subjects such as geography.
- Before writing, candidates should consider which opinions should be presented and which should be withheld.
- It necessitates that the candidate be more knowledgeable about current events than is required for general studies.
Some Sociology Optional Book Suggestions
- Michael Haralambos and Martin Holborn’s Sociology Themes and Perspectives
- Anthony Giddens’ Sociology
- George Ritzer’s Sociological Theory
- Ram Ahuja’s Society in India: Concepts, Theories, and Recent Trends
- Yogendra Singh’s Modernization of Indian Tradition
- AR Desai’s Social Background of Indian Nationalism
- MV Rao’s Persistence and Change in Tribal India
Strategy for preparing for Sociology Optional UPSC
- Referring to previous year question papers
After memorising the syllabus, aspirants should browse through previous year questions to understand the type and pattern of questions asked by UPSC in the mains examination. It is not necessary to write responses to prior year questions in the initial stages of preparation. However, aspirants should review previous year’s questions on a frequent basis.
- Reading from standard sources for sociology optional
there are various standard sources that applicants have traditionally used, such as NCERT books, IGNOU publications, haralambos and holborn, ritzer, Indian sociological thinking by BK nagla, and so on. However, preparation for the sociology optional should begin with a review of the basics from the NCERT books for 11th and 12th grades. One can write answers to the questions at the end of each chapter of the NCERT book in order to produce a thorough analysis of a specific topic or the basics of sociology.
- Analyzing the syllabus
Before beginning preparation for the sociology optional, look over each and every topic and subtopic of the syllabus. Should memorise the syllabus so that while writing responses, he or she can correlate with other topics. One should prepare for sociology optional syllabus wise, hence it is always vital to carry syllabus with you whenever you are preparing any topic so that you don’t read irrelevant material that is not connected to the syllabus set by UPSC.
- Tips for Sociology Optional Paper 2
Sociology Optional Paper 2 is dynamic in character. There are few standard sources for paper 2 on the market, and the majority of paper 2 questions are about current topics, which should be written in sociological terms. While writing responses, you must connect the static section of sociology optional with dynamic current affairs. You should include news about sociology in your static notes about the topic to which the news is directly or indirectly related. Topics like as poverty, deprivation, inequities, regionalism, violence against women, and secularisation must be reinforced with current events and dynamic data that can be found in publications such as the Hindu or the Indian Express.
- Answer writing
Before writing answers for the sociology optional, applicants should keep a few things in mind. It is critical to link various themes from paper 1 and paper 2 while writing replies. One should focus on the topics that occur frequently in the UPSC mains test. These issues must be given highest consideration. Collect numerous facts from newspapers, economic surveys, budgets, and current affairs periodicals to be used in composing sociology optional answers. Wherever possible, philosophers’ opinions will be recorded down. While composing the answer, keep in mind the word restriction specified on the question paper. Rather than writing big paragraphs, answers should be written in brief paragraphs or points. Underlining essential topics, thinker names, or keywords allows the examiner to readily detect these items. Don’t include extremist viewpoints in your responses. You should express yourself in a balanced manner. Regular writing practise might help you perform well in the UPSC mains for both GS and sociology optional.
- Making notes
It is critical to take notes while studying for the UPSC test, especially in a topic like sociology, which has numerous ideas, models, concepts, and thinkers. You must develop flowcharts, tables, and figures to aid in the editing process.
How Should You Approach Answer Writing?
It is different to write an answer for each optional subject. While writing a solution to a Sociology topic, there are a few basic yet crucial items that can add additional degree of depth to your answer.
- If you’re asked to provide a sociological analysis of the Green Revolution, include information about its impact on female labour force participation, sex ratio, landholding pattern, rural mobility, and so on. Environmental movements in India raise social issues, such as women’s and children’s difficulties, as well as peasant and tribal issues.
- Underlined keywords in all answers to make it easy for an examiner.
- Draw diagrams wherever you can to make your answer more appealing and earn extra points.
- Wherever possible, both in Paper I and Paper II, quote philosophers and scholars’ viewpoints.
- It might help to earn more marks if you quoted some data or studies from sociologists, especially in Paper 2, such as in the case of village studies, etc.
- In sociology, keep in mind that people’s perceptions or experiences of social institutions, events, inequities, and other topics will always change, therefore there is room for a wide range of responses. Use this strategy to your advantage, but do so with caution.
- Try to introduce responses so that you can write in paragraph form, but you can also write in pointings and bulleting forms to give the answer a compact flow.
- To make the answer balanced, include criticism in all of your answers.
- It is essential to end on a positive note. In conclusion, though, constructive criticism is encouraged.
- Try to incorporate some vitality into your response.
Given the Civil Services’ extensive syllabus, it is necessary to delve into the depths of sociology, investigating the subject with enthusiasm and in a systematic manner. Sociology is a good elective, but you must prepare thoroughly to take advantage of it. If you put up sincere effort in your preparation, this subject will undoubtedly yield the desired results, allowing you to realise your dreams. But don’t be fooled by the subject’s evident advantages. Every topic has advantages and disadvantages. It all relies on how you use your strengths while working on your flaws. Make your own assessment based on your skills and interests. Finally, you must prepare the subject, and it must be appealing to you.