For a UPSC CSE aspirant, the optional subject is also an important subject. In the UPSC mains exam, optional marks have two papers, Paper 1 and Paper 2. Each paper is of 250 marks which makes a total of 500 marks. The UPSC optional subject list contains 48 subjects in total, one of which is Sociology.





  1. Sociology – The Discipline
  • Modernity and social changes in Europe and the emergence of sociology
  • Sociology and common sense
  • Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences
  1. Sociology as Science:
  • Major theoretical strands of research methodology
  • Science, scientific method and critique
  • Positivism and its critique
  • Non- positivist methodologies
  • Fact value and objectivity
  1. Research Methods and Analysis:
  • Quantitative, and qualitative methods
  • Variables, hypothesis, sampling, reliability, and validity
  • Techniques of data collection
  1. Sociological Thinkers:
  • Karl Marx- Historical materialism, alienation, mode of production, class struggle
  • Max Weber- Social action, authority, ideal types, bureaucracy, the spirit of capitalism, and the protestant ethic
  • Emile Durkheim- Division of labor, suicide, social fact, religion, and society
  • Talcott Parsons- Social system, pattern variables
  • Mead – Self, and identity
  • Robert K. Merton- Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups
  1. Stratification and Mobility:
  • Concepts- equality, hierarchy, inequality, exclusion, deprivation, and poverty
  • Dimensions – Social stratification of class, status groups, gender, ethnicity, and race
  • Theories of social stratification- Structural functionalist theory, Weberian theory, Marxist theory
  • Social mobility- open and closed systems, types of mobility, causes of mobility, and sources
  1. Works and Economic Life:
  • The social organization of work in different types of society- slave society, industrial /capitalist society, feudal society
  • Labour and society
  • Formal and informal organization of work
  1. Politics and Society:
  • Sociological theories of power
  • The power elite, pressure groups, bureaucracy, and political parties
  • Nation, state, democracy, citizenship, ideology, civil society
  • The protest, social movements, agitation, collective action, revolution
  1. Religion and Society:
  • Sociological theories of religion
  • Religion in modern society: religion and science, religious revivalism, secularization, fundamentalism
  • Types of religious practices: animism, pluralism, sects, monism, cults
  1. Systems of Kinship:
  • Types and forms of family
  • Family, household, marriage
  • Patriarchy and the sexual division of labor
  • Lineage and descent
  • Contemporary trends
  1. Social Change in Modern Society:
  • Sociological theories of social change
  • Agents of social change
  • Education and social change
  • Development and dependency
  • Technology, science, and social change


A. Introducing Indian Society

(i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society:

  • Indology (GS. Ghurye)
  • Marxist sociology (A R Desai)
  • Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas)

(ii) Impact of colonial rule on Indian society:

  • The social background of Indian nationalism
  • Protests and movements during the colonial period
  • Modernization of Indian tradition
  • Social reforms

B. Social Structure:

(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:

  • The idea of Indian village and village studies
  • Agrarian social structure – the evolution of land reforms, and land tenure system

(ii) Caste System:

  • Features of the caste system
  • Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, Louis Dumont, M N Srinivas, Andre Beteille
  • Untouchability – perspectives, and forms

(iii) Tribal communities in India:

  • Definitional problems
  • Colonial policies and tribes
  • Geographical spread
  • Issues of autonomy, and integration

(iv) Social Classes in India:

  • Agrarian class structure
  • Middle classes in India
  • Industrial class structure

(v) Systems of Kinship in India:

  • Types of kinship systems
  • Lineage and descent in India
  • Household dimensions of the family
  • Family and marriage in India

(vi) Religion and Society:

  • Religious communities in India
  • Patriarchy, entitlements, and the sexual division of labor
  • Problems of religious minorities

C. Social Changes in India:

(i) Visions of Social Change in India:

  • The idea of development planning and a mixed economy
  • Education and social change
  • Constitution, social change, and law

(ii) Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:

  • Programmes of rural development, Programme, cooperatives, Community Development, poverty alleviation schemes
  • Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture
  • Green revolution and social change
  • Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration

(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:

  • Growth of urban settlements in India
  • Evolution of modern industry in India
  • Working-class: structure, growth, class mobilization
  • Slums and deprivation in urban areas
  • In the informal sector, child labor

(iv) Politics and Society:

  • Nation, citizenship, and democracy
  • Political parties, the social, pressure groups, and the political elite
  • Secularization
  • Regionalism and decentralization of power

(v) Social Movements in Modern India:

  • Peasants and farmers movements
  • Backward classes & Dalit movement
  • Women’s movement
  • Ethnicity and Identity movements
  • Environmental movements

(vi) Population Dynamics:

  • Population size, composition, growth, and distribution
  • Population policy and family planning
  • Components of population growth: birth, death, migration
  • Emerging issues: aging, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health

(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:

  • Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems, and sustainability
  • Violence against women
  • Caste conflicts
  • Poverty, deprivation, and inequalities
  • Illiteracy and disparities in education
  • Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism

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