IAS (UPSC CSE) exam is conducted in 2 stages - the IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 Prelims will be held on June 27, 2021, and the IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 Mains has been scheduled for September 17, 2021. The Mains exam contains 9 papers carrying 250 marks for each paper.
The optional papers are divided into 2 papers having 250 marks for each. Candidates will be given the option to choose the optional subject. Almost every year 2000 candidates choose sociology as the optional subject of the IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains exam.
In the following article advantages, preparation tips, best books, topic Wise Analysis and Previous years’ papers have been discussed.
Before choosing the Sociology in IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021 exam as an optional subject, candidates, here are some benefits of Sociology if you choose sociology as your optional subject in IAS (UPSC CSE) 2021:
In General Studies Paper-I, there are several common topics with the optional subject such as:
In the case of General Studies Paper-II, here is a list of the common topics:
Sociology tends to overlap some of the topics in UPSC General Studies Paper-III as well. Here are the topis:
In UPSC General Studies Paper-IV, the common topics are - Human Values- the role of family, society, and educational institutions in inculcating values; reformers and administrators, lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders.
Choosing an Optional for Mains in IAS Mains is a critical task. With a share of 500 marks out of 2025, the right choice of optional will give you a safer path to achieve a better rank. Here are some reasons why any candidates can choose sociology as the optional subject:
Before starting the preparation, analyzing the syllabus of the Sociology optional subject is very crucial. One should start preparation by following the syllabus so that candidate does no miss any topic. On the other hand, if one follows the UPSC prescribed syllabus, they won’t read irrelevant topis.
IGNOU books for sociology optional almost cover the whole Sociology paper I and II syllabus of IAS (UPSC CSE) Mains. Therefore, to clear the basic concepts, candidates can take the help of the IGNOU Books and syllabus wise notes of topics and subtopics from IGNOU books. This will ease the revision process.
Start sociology preparation by reading ‘Sociology: Themes and Perspectives’ by Haralambos and Holborn. This book will provide you with a basic understanding of all the fundamental concepts of sociology. Moreover, it also contains case studies and reading it will help you apply theory to practice.
There are six thinkers you must cover namely, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Talcott Parsons, Max Weber, Herbert Mead, and Robert Merton. All the theories must be covered in detail and thoroughly. This chapter will help you in writing answers to questions from other chapters as well.
This paper generally deals with India and the questions are generally about recent events that occurred. When you read the newspaper daily, make sure you watch out for topics that are potential questions in this paper. Gender/women issues, caste-based issues, tribal issues, Indian values, and their erosion, Indian society, etc. are crucial for this paper.
Here is a compact list of IAS (UPSC CSE) Sociology books along with reference books for better preparation. Here are the boos for Sociology Paper-I & Sociology Paper-II
For the Sociology Paper-I, here are the books which will help to cover the entire syllabus:
|Sociology Paper-I Books||Author/ Publishers|
|Classical Sociological Theory||George Ritzer|
|Sociology Themes and Perspectives||Haralambos and Holborn (Bluebook)|
|Sociology Themes and Perspectives||M Haralambos with R M Heald(Orange book)|
|Herton and Hunt, Sociology, Mcgraw||Hill International, Singapore 1984|
|The Sociological Enterprise: A Discussion of Fundamental Concepts||Christopher Charles Harris|
|Intro To Social Movements||Nancy O. Wilson|
|Anthony Giddens: An Introduction to a Social Theorist||Lars Bo Kaspersen (Author) and Steven Sampson (Translator)|
|Theoretical Sociology||Randall Collins|
|Modern Organization (Foundations of Modern Sociology)||Amitai Etzioni|
For the Sociology Paper-I, here are the books which will cover the entire syllabus:
|Name of Books||Author/ Publishers|
|Handbook of Indian Sociology||Veena Das|
|Modernization of Indian Tradition||Yogendra Singh|
|Social change in modern India||M N Srinivas|
|Sociological Background of Indian Nationalism||A R Desai|
|Indian Society||S C Dube|
|Caste in Indian politics||Rajni Kothari|
Candidates who have already started the preparation for UPSC Sociology optional papers should know the year wise trends of the question papers and which topics are of grave importance. Here is the topic-wise analysis for Sociology Optional Paper-I & Paper-II:
|Topics||Marks on Each Topis|
|Sociology as Science||40||30||50||30|
|Works and Economic Life||30||30||30||30|
|Politics and Society||40||30||50||60|
|Religion and Society||30||50||40||30|
|Systems of Kinship||50||40||20||30|
Here is a table and chart which will represent each year the importance of each topic.
|Topics||Questions worth marks|
|Impact of colonial rule||40||10||40||30|
|Rural and agrarian social structure||0||20||0||30|
|Tribal communities in India||20||30||20||40|
|Social classes in India||0||10||0||20|
|Systems of kinship in India||30||30||50||20|
|Religion and society||10||20||30||30|
|Visions of social change in India||0||0||0||0|
|Rural and agrarian transformation||30||50||10||20|
|Industrialization and urbanization||40||80||10||10|
|Politics and society||20||0||20||10|
|Social movements in modern India||20||20||40||50|
|Challenges of social transformation||50||40||90||60|
According to the 2016 report, a total number of 1555 candidates with Sociology appeared in IAS Mains. Only 89 candidates were recommended. But in 2014, 1819 candidates took sociology in IAS Mains. 193 candidates got recommended.
|Years||Number of Appeared||Number of Recommended||Rate of Success|
For previous year papers, there is no need to spend a penny. The previous year papers of Sociology optional of IAS (UPSC CSE) exam is given below which can be easily downloaded. Here are the previous papers from 2019 to 2014 of both paper I and Paper - II to download:
|Years||Name of Papers||Link|
|2020||Sociology Paper - I||Download|
|2019||Sociology Paper - I||Download|
|2018||Sociology Paper - I||Download|
|2017||Sociology Paper - I||Download|
|2016||Sociology Paper - I||Download|
|2015||Sociology Paper I||Download|
|2014||Sociology Paper I||Download|
Writing an answer for each optional subject is different. While you are writing an answer to the questions of Sociology, there are few common yet important things that can provide another level of depth to your answer.
Sociology is one of the most popular subjects chosen over the years as optional subject. But it also has many challenges which can give you difficulties in preparation such as candidates must have an interest in the subject, otherwise, the concepts will bore you and you will go through a hard time in finding the right attitude required to comprehend it.
Also, Always be ready to scrutinize and dissect every concept. The subject is required to have the ability to go for an in-depth analysis of alternate points of view as well to provide an above the average answer.
Ques. How many questions come in each sociology paper in IAS Mains?
Ans. Approx 13 questions of 10 marks and 6 questions of 20 marks in both papers come each year in IAS Mains Sociology subject.
Ques. Will Optional be removed from UPSC 2021?
Ans. There were many controversies about UPSC changing the exam pattern for MAINS as well as prelims. In the new mains pattern, they are planning to remove all options and replace them with subjects like Law, Economy, etc. which will be compulsory for all.
Ques. What is the highest score in sociology optional?
Ans. In 2018, Vishal Sah secured an All India Rank of 63 in the UPSC Civil Service Examination, and also scored the highest marks that year (329) in his optional paper, which was Sociology.
Ques. What is the ideal word limit for sociology optional in IAS Mains?
Ans. As per UPSC declaration, the questions of 10 marks should be around 150 words.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.