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"Society is not a mere sum of individuals. Rather, the system formed by their association & represents a specific reality which has its own characteristics"
- Emile Durkheim

The right optional is the one which helps you outperform in mains, the one which fetches you maximum marks, the one which comes to your rescue when you are unable to score very well in General Studies, and last but not the least, the one which brings out the best in you. So, it is very important to analyze and check which subject the candidates have an interest in. It is also important to check whether good courses are out there in the market to help students who are completely new to this subject. However, UPSC aspirants are often faced with the dilemma of choosing the right optional subject.

This article is aimed at helping candidates who want to choose Sociology as their Optional Subject. We shall talk about the subject, the syllabus in detail as well as the scope of this subject in scoring in the Mains paper. This article will also help you to decide why Sociology as an optional subject can be helpful for your Mains score. So, read along!


About Sociology

The term Sociology means - To study the progress, fabric of society, and to study how society functions. In short, it is the study of the society that we live in from a closer eye so we can grow together and form a well-knit group of people. It is obvious that every person has some idea about the way society functions. Even a child has the sense to be happy and sad based on its relation with the people around. Further, Sociology as a subject is an in-depth study of human relations with each other and existing institutions. Also, it helps a person to better understand the society and the world at large. Other subjects like History, Geography has to be taught in school because these subjects don't include an innate connection to the existence of a human being. Sociology is practiced on a daily level - at home, at school, and even with friends without even us realizing it. The way we conduct ourselves, talk, give, take, function, etc, all form the basics of this subject.

Learning Sociology as a course

The fact that human beings already form a viewpoint about society may work both as an advantage as well as a disadvantage. So, the advantage is that students already know what they will be dealing with and will not be afraid to jump in as many would feel it would not be a difficult subject to learn. The latter may pose a slight problem. This is because in order to learn Sociology, one needs to “unlearn” what is already known from experiences, books, and popular culture. In fact, the initial stage of learning Sociology consists mainly of such unlearning. This is done so that students have a blank base that teachers can work upon because biased opinions or preconceived notions often disrupt the natural flow of learning.

-NCERT, Indian Society

Things to Keep In Mind While Choosing Sociology As Optional

  1. Interest – When it comes to choosing an optional subject, it is of utmost importance that you have an interest in that subject or have the interest to learn that subject. If you want to know more about Sociology and read at a deeper level, then you should go for it. With interest in the subject, you will be able to score even the highest marks in Optional subject out of all your Main papers.
  2. Background- If you are from an Arts background, you can easily go for Sociology. But, if you have a Science/Commerce/technical background, you have to research a bit about the subject as you must have lost touch with the Humanities subjects for quite a bit of time. In any of the cases, you must have the interest to learn the subject further - whether with the help of guide books or coaching classes. Many of the topics will also overlap with your GS syllabus of the Civil Services examination.
  3. Resources- The availability of study material plays an important role in deciding the right optional for you. For a subject like sociology, ample study sources are available. but, there can be a lot of confusion regarding the subject even if you are an expert in the subject. This happens because the subject has to be studied from UPSC point of view and an experienced guide from Chahal Academy will be able to guide you through the task of selecting the right books. Also, proper coaching will enable you to understand and learn the right portion of the syllabus of the UPSC optional paper.
  4. Rationality- In case you choose any other optional subject, you would have to read a considerable amount of Sociology related topics especially in current affairs. If you are left with lesser time, it is reasonable to opt for sociology. It will reduce your burden and will save your time as it can be learned from practical experiences as well.

Reasons to Opt Sociology As Optional

  1. Consistency – The Sociology optional is performing consistently well. Also, increasing no. of students are opting for this subject year after year. Moreover, students with sociology optional are consistently getting top ranks in UPSC. Students who gave their Mains paper with Sociology as an optional, have scored really high marks according to trends.
  2. Overlapping with other papers- It overlaps with almost the entire GENERAL STUDIES syllabus. Also, Sociology related questions can be found in the Essay paper as well because it is a subject that requires experiences gained from society and a bit of research and proper guidance from experienced mentors. Sociology is one subject which has its relevance in many aspects of our lives.
  3. Availability of study materials- Further, there is more than enough study material available for Sociology and students will be able to gather all the relevant material for the same without much hassle.
  4. High Scoring and Success Ratio- Sociology is relatively easier compared to other optional subjects. It is easy in the sense that it is more relatable and takes lesser time to understand. Students can easily score 300+ marks if there is a well-devised study plan. Also, the selection of candidates who selected Sociology is on the rise every passing year.
  5. Helps in Interview-Sociology as an optional subject also helps with the UPSC interview as questions related to society, general views on the societal and cultural relations are also asked.

Is Sociology A Scoring Subject

Many candidates opt for Sociology as their optional based on the success ratio of the subject. Many candidates have been able to score 300+ in Sociology and many have managed to bag top ranks. However, UPSC does not biased among the optional subjects but one must choose their optional wisely based on their strengths and weaknesses.
Marks of Some Toppers in Sociology Optional:

Name of the Candidate Year of Passing Total Marks (500) Sociology Paper I (250 Marks) Sociology Paper II (250 Marks)
Chandramohan Garg CSE-2015 233 120 113
Utkarsh Gupta CSE-2016 289 156 133
Ila Tripathi CSE-2016 301 134 167
Anu Kumari CSE-2017 318 163 155
Vishal Shah CSE-2018 329 171 158

Why One Should Join Chahal Academy For Sociology?

  1. Detailed coverage of both Sociology paper I & II for UPSC mains exam - We make sure that you are taught from zero level so don't worry about being able to grasp everything in the class. We believe in steady progress rather than a fast pace because we want you to retain all that you learn. If things are done in a haste, they are easily forgotten.
  2. Updated Current Affairs teaching for the dynamic section of Sociology - We make sure that your dynamic portion is covered equally well because you will have to produce holistic answers.
  3. Explanation of the interlinks between Sociology and GS papers - As a beginner, you might not know how to write in order to gain marks in the UPSC Mains exam. This paper is very different from your school or college exams. You have to include any aspect that can possibly be linked to any of the subjects that exist. We will explain how to analyze and link relevant topics.
  4. Availability of topic-wise module with coverage of each topic - We provide modules so you can refer to these modules while you study after the class lectures. You will find tons of examples to help you understand and retain better.
  5. Special lecture series on Answer writing practice - The most important part of your Optional paper is answer writing. We provide extensive guidance on 'How to write the perfect answer' for the perfect score. You will be able to master this art with the help of our lecture series and mock tests.
  6. 150+ hours of Offline/online lectures by Delhi based faculty members - Our finest faculty team will guide you through the basics of Sociology to decoding the concepts of great thinkers.

Sociology Optional Course Fee:

Inclusions Fee
Online Video lectures for Optional Paper 1&2 + Study Material in Soft Copy + Test Series Rs. 25000
Only Online Video lectures for Optional Paper 1&2 Rs. 15000

Reasons to Join Online Coaching For Sociology By Chahal Academy

Reasons to Join Online Coaching For Sociology By Chahal Academy
  • Super Affordable fees:
    Reasons to Join Online Coaching For Sociology By Chahal Academy
  • Your time, Your Place:
    While offline IAS coaching has a fixed schedule, online coaching is flexible. Aspirants can save time because the cost and time of travel is zero. Also, the best part of online coaching is that you can access the best lecturers anytime and anywhere.
  • Rescheduling:
    One of the biggest advantages of online Sociology optional coaching is that no lecture or topic will be missed. This is possible because you can record your lectures and watch it only when you have space and time.
  • Experienced Faculty for Sociology Optional course:
    Our highly accomplished faculty is lauded for redefining the approach to see optional subjects as an easy one if one plays with the right strategy. You don't have to worry about your optional once you join us. We will guide you all along your preparation journey and mold you for your optional. Once you join us, you become our responsibility!

Chahal Academy's Specialized Online Course for Sociology Optional Subject
This course has been specially designed for those who -
  • Are interested in opting Sociology as optional with or without an academic background in Sociology. We start with the basics and gradually increase the level.
  • Are facing problems in correlating and connecting theories and concepts. Our classes are based on the concept of reading texts in a related manner.
  • Studied the subject on their own but are facing problems in writing standard answers. We will make your basics clear so you can write lucid answers to the best of your abilities. We polish what you already have in you.
  • Are facing challenges in unfolding their knowledge to clear basic notions and theories - Our expert faculty team will clear all your doubts with one on one sessions as well. You will always find somebody to help and guide you and answer all your queries regarding Sociology.

Answer Writing Tips for Sociology:
  • While writing the Sociology optional paper, candidates must keep in mind that the answer for sociology should look different from the GS answers. Your answer should have a subject-specialist approach.
  • Scholar views, facts & technical words can be added in the optional subject to score well in Sociology. This will show that you have read relevant authors and thinkers.
  • Cite Supreme Court and High Court judgments in the answer wherever necessary. This makes your answer well-informed and filled with relevant points.
  • There are questions which are based on thinkers. So, start your answer with books and quotations written by them. You can also add a brief life history of the thinkers to show how their early life influenced their writings. This way, your answer will have a flow and grab the attention of the examiner.
  • Usually, questions asked in Paper I are static in nature and that of Paper-II are of dynamic type. For optional Paper-II, try to interlink your answer with current events and other subjects to make it a holistic one.

Syllabus for Sociology

PAPER - I

Fundamentals of Sociology
  1. Sociology - The Discipline
    (a) Modernity and Social changes in Europe and the 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 labor, ocial fact, suicide, religion, and society.
    (c) Max Weber - Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, the protestant ethic, and the spirit of capitalism.
    (d) Talcott 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 functionalist 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) The social organization of work in different types of society - slave society, feudal society, industrial capitalist society.
    (b) Formal and informal organization 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) The 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, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
  9. Systems of Kinship:
    (a) Family, household, marriage.
    (b) Types and forms of family.
    (c) Lineage and descent.
    (d) Patriarchy and the sexual division of labor.
    (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.

PAPER - II

INDIAN SOCIETY: STRUCTURE AND CHANGE
    A. Introducing Indian Society:
  1. Perspectives on the Study of Indian Society:
    (a) Indology (G.S. Ghure).
    (b) Structural functionalism (M. N. Srinivas).
    (c) Marxist sociology (A. R. Desai).
  2. Impact of colonial rule on Indian society:
    (a) The social background of Indian nationalism.
    (b) Modernization of Indian tradition.
    (c) Protests and movements during the colonial period.
    (d) Social reforms
B. Social Structure:
  1. Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
    (a) The idea of Indian village and village studies.
    (b) Agrarian social structure—the evolution of land tenure system, land reforms
  2. Caste System:
    (a) Perspectives on the study of caste systems: G. S. Ghurye, M. N. Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
    (b) Features of the caste system.
    (c) Untouchability-forms and perspectives
  3. Tribal Communities in India:
    (a) Definitional problems.
    (b) Geographical spread.
    (c) Colonial policies and tribes.
    (d) Issues of integration and autonomy.
  4. Social Classes in India:
    (a) Agrarian class structure.
    (b) Industrial class structure.
    (c) Middle classes in India.
  5. 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 the sexual division of labor.
  6. Religion and Society:
    (a) Religious communities in India.
    (b) Problems of religious minorities.
C. Social Changes in India:
  1. Visions of Social Change in India:
    (a) The idea of development planning and a mixed economy.
    (b) Constitution, law, and social change.
    (c) Education and social change.
  2. 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 labor, bondage, migration.
  3. 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 mobilization.
    (d) The informal sector, child labor.
    (e) Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
  4. Politics and Society:
    (a) Nation, democracy, and citizenship.
    (b) Political parties, pressure groups, social and political elite.
    (c) Regionalism and decentralization of power.
    (d) Secularization.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Recommended Booklist

PAPER-I
  1. Haralambos & Holborn Sociology: Themes And Perspectives- Haralambos
  2. Sociology – Anthony Giddens
  3. Sociological Theory – George Ritzer
  4. Sociological Thought – Francis Abraham, John Henry Morgan
  5. Political Theory – O P Gauba
  6. Essential Sociology- Nitin Sangwan

PAPER-II
  1. Indian Society, NCERT Class 12
  2. Society In India: Concepts, Theories And Recent Trends – Ram Ahuja
  3. Social Change In Modern India – M. N. SRINIVAS
  4. Modernization Of Indian Tradition – Yogendra Singh
  5. Society In India: Concepts, Theories And Recent Trends – Ram Ahuja
  6. Social Problems In India – Ram Ahuja
  7. Persistence and Change in Tribal India – M.V. Rao

Although you can study Sociology as an optional all by yourself, a proper guidance pays off when you have to sit for the exam. Experts who have been teaching Sociology almost all their life will teach you in a way that will open doors to understanding new concepts. Many toppers took up Sociology Optional course and they were able to score really high. You can visit our centre and check the type and quality of teaching we impart. You can also attend our mock classes to be sure before enrolling.