Sociology Optional (Score 293): Booklist, Strategy, Answer Copies by Tanai Sultania (AIR 63)

Sociology Optional strategy by Tanai SultaniaHello everyone, I am Tanai Sultania, AIR 63, UPSC CSE 2016. My optional was sociology and I am sharing my detailed booklist, additional points and inputs on answer writing along with some of my test series copies.

Sociology has become one of the favorite subject of aspirants due to its content, applications in other papers and also the “hawa/wave” factor of taking up an optional as others are taking it and scoring even 290 or 300. But it needs to be remembered that the range of marks varied from 200 to 300 this year and thus proper attention, in-depth coverage is needed for it.

I had poor marks in last year’s mains (209) due to lack of attention towards optional .Thus this time, I prepared comprehensively and covered all topics.

Sociology Optional Booklist

Paper 1

• Mohapatra sir notes
• Upendra sir Class Notes(Handwritten ones) – Available in Book stores
Haralambos (thick one, for few topics)
Fundamental Sociology b y Vikash Ranjan sir (selected chapters)

Topicwise Booklist: (Each topic has subtopics also, please keep the syllabus in front while studying any topic or subtopic)
1. Sociology The Discipline- Mohapatra sir notes
2. Sociology as science– Upendra sir notes and Fundamentals of Sociology
3. Research Method and Analysis– Upendra sir notes and Fundamentals of Sociology
4. Sociological Thinkers– Mohapatra sir and Upendra sir notes. (Given the questions being asked I recommend reading IGNOU BA or Ritzer for this part. Please do refer additional source for this part)
5. Stratification and Mobility– Mohapatra sir notes, Upendra sir notes (For the topics of Gender stratification , sources and causes of mobility), Fundamentals of sociology(for definitions of concepts)
6. Works and Economic Life– Fundamentals of Sociology (Many ignore this part but lots of questions being asked from this part now)
7. Politics and Society– Upendra sir notes
8. Religion and Society

  • Sociological Theories of Religion– Haralambos.
  • Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults — Fundamentals of Sociology
  • Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism– Upendra sir and Mohapatra sir notes

9. Systems of Kinship– Upendra sir notes
10. Social Change in Modern Society– Upendra sir notes (Sociological theories of social change, Agents of social change) , Mohapatra sir notes (For the subtopic- Development and dependency.)

• I did not give overdose of theories and thinkers,gave contemporary examples and observations. But mentioning some views of thinkers is important to give legitimacy to own views and thoughts.

• Attempted questions which gave me scope for examples as well as theories like:

Development and social change (used views of Dr Amartya sen, Mahbub ul haq and connected to current indian scenario. Economic, political, social development linked to social issues of caste, class, gender, race and thus mobility)

Globalisation and informal sector (Keith Hart’s definition of informal sector – low skill, low wages, easy entry, low bargaining power, absence of hierarchy or rules and regulations and how globalization has increased these features- wrote about MNCs which have departments like HR, finance etc thus informalises work force by dividing them and reducing bargaining skills, work from home, pink slips, rise of knowledge based industries(Daniel bell), outsourcing, contractualisation)

Religious pluralism (gave examples like- Obama giving holiday on Diwali, Canada apologising for Komagatamaru and inducting people from multiple religions in cabinet, French burkini ban revoked by court and other current issues)

Paper 2

For entire paper , I referred to Mohapatra sir and Sindhuri mam notes(available in market) and the 1-2 subtopics like population dynamics which were not there in either of them, studied from Vikas Ranjan sir book(Applied sociology)

Some topics like village studies, Green revolution- Mohapatra sir has given studies which helped a lot as direct questions were asked from these parts.

Similarly on topics like Industrialisation and urbanisation, challenges of social transformation – Sindhuri mam notes are brilliant and once again studies and theories are given

This paper also needs current affairs for which regular newspaper would suffice.

• Questions like RTE , NREGA, Poverty, slums, sex ratio look like GS answers but are part of syllabus and thus correlation is very important in this paper to write accordingly.

• Multidimensional approach is needed for this paper
Eg: Environment movements in India- Are also social (as women and child issues, peasants, tribes issues get interlinked). Thus are being called new social movements

NREGA- has gender, migration, urban-rural conflict, poverty, caste dimensions.

• Using contemporary data in answers:
Eg: sex ratio implication: Girls from southern states are married in states like Punjab and Haryana -some are even sold- leads to trafficking, prostitution, child marriages.

Dalit movements- change from ritual to secular movements. Dalit pride yatra in Una had secular demands – land, manual scavenging abolition, employment.

Ethnicity issues- Manipur (Nagas, Meitis, Kukis-insider vs outsider), Nagaland (Greater Nagalim), economic- sons of soil policy , reservation demands from dominant ethnic groups, formation of ethnic groups and culture in urban areas- in residential areas, educational institutes etc.

• Using case studies in questions like Village studies, green revolution, slums helps as it gives credibility to answer as the researchers have actually given ground realities in all dimensions-caste, class, gender, ethnicity, economic, political.

How to Write Sociology Answers

Knowing the syllabus well is important to correlate in answer writing. Many questions (RTE, NREGA, globalization and Informal sector, sex ratio, inequalities and acute poverty as challenges to social transformation) look like GS questions but are from a particular topic in syllabus and hence it is very important to correlate and write accordingly.

• Answer writing practice helps develop habit of maintaining balance between static and dynamic part which is very important. It also helps to inculcate aspects like structuring the answer, proper introduction and conclusion. Thus I would recommend joining a test series for it.

Short notes are very important – extra focus on them is necessary. Need to avoid repetition, provide new points in almost every line.

I defined the concept in 1-2 lines in every question. Eg: vertical mobility, closed society, revolution, pluralism, fundamentalism, informal sector, development. Whenever such terms were mentioned, I defined them and derived my answer from definition itself.

Going through previous year papers is important. Almost 4-5 questions are repeated. Education and mobility, old age problems, ethnicity and religion, value neutrality. Questions on these have been asked in past 3 years without fail!

Choice of questions is also important, last year I attempted many similar questions- Positivism, non positivism, value neutrality, science and sociology in which content was being repeated to some extent. I avoided it this time. But if you have content to attempt all these and not repeat, should definitely go for it.

Bullet Points vs paragraph debate: I wrote in points wherever possible but its all based on one’s comfort. Its completely your choice and doesn’t make a difference. But in some answers like benefits of qualitative research, its better to list advantages or disadvantages in points.

Underlined key words in all answers to make it easy for examiner.

Sociology Answer Copies

I am attaching some of my test paper copies- Hope it helps! All the best!

Please send your queries in the comments section

  1. Download Sociology Optional Topper Answer Booklet 1
  2. Download Sociology Optional Topper Answer Booklet 2
  3. Download Sociology Optional Topper Answer Booklet 3
  4. Download Sociology Optional Topper Answer Booklet 4
  5. Download Sociology Optional Topper Answer Booklet 5
  6. Download Sociology Optional Topper Answer Booklet 6

5 thoughts on “Sociology Optional (Score 293): Booklist, Strategy, Answer Copies by Tanai Sultania (AIR 63)”

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for posting the test papers.
    If possible could you upload few more test papers, bcoz some of your answers are more technical and confusing (plz don’t take it in a wrong way).
    The comment which are written on the answer is also not visible, so can’t judge what you missed out.

    If possible to you then do upload few more papers/ notes.
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing your strategy.
    i want to know from where i can get these notes in Delhi that you mentioned in this article. currently i am working in bangalore and difficult to find here.
    Mohapatra sir notes
    Upendra sir Class Notes
    Sindhuri mam notes

  3. Thanks for the post. Its precise and simple to understand. Can u please be specific regarding the test series for sociology optional. Which test series is best suited keeping in mind the evaluation, discussion and quality of questions being asked?

  4. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing your strategy.
    i want to know from where i can get these notes in Delhi that you mentioned in this article…..
    How to prepare for sociology strategy…… so Join now… Best institute for sociology optional course in Delhi……….

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