Current Affairs compilation for UPSC Sociology

This article covers real-world examples that explain Sociological theories, concepts and analysis. Apart from aiding in better grasp over concepts, they also help in securing better marks if mentioned in answers. Mentioning them in our answers would reflect our understanding and internalisation of the topic rather than rote learning. Key words from syllabus have been highlighted to aid faster reading.

Weber’s protestant ethic at play in Europe.

– Many South European countries are catholic, and are relatively less well off. e.g Italy, Spain etc.

– Many North European countries are protestant, and are relatively rich. e.g Germany, France, Britain etc.

According to Sociologists, protestant ethic that favours capitalism and hard work is one of the many reasons behind.

  • Marx’s alienation –  It is true, however, that some young workers have bought into this rhetoric of “freedom” and “liberation” peddled by the capitalists at the head of the on-demand economy. But this does not prove the strength of bourgeois libertarian ideas. Rather, the embracement of the freelance lifestyle reflects the opposite: the alienation from work that many experience as a result of their experiences toiling away in mind-numbing jobs within giant, faceless capitalist corporations
  • How thin political markets undermine democracy in Capitalist society –
  • Class struggle  – Workers’ strike in Munnar tea plantation, Maruti, Toyota, Air France worker’s strike as 2900 jobs to go. Women sidelined the trade unions, which are male dominated, to get their demands sanctioned.
    • Dalit women breaking away from their trade unions, joining the struggle, and representing themselves in a bold rebellion against capitalism and patriarchy, including a male-dominated trade union structure.
    • The ‘Pompilai Orumai,’ in protest against the system of gender segregation practised in the plantations, kept at bay not only the male trade union leaders, but also the men in their own family during the struggle. ‘Pombilai Orumai’ is now busy building its own union on its own terms; it has also fielded candidates in the local government elections to be held in early November. The struggle also reminds us that even within the laudable Kerala model of social development, the Dalit experience leaves much to be desired. Dalit families have lived in two-room tenements (layams) for generations and their conditions do not reflect the much-applauded social welfare indicators of the State.
  • Durkheim Suicide
    • Altruistic suicide – Suicide bomber,
    • Fatalistic suicide – farmers’s suicide in Marathwada, suicide by a couple in Delhi after their kid died of dengue.
    • Anomic suicide – During 2008 recession, after stocks tumbled.
    • Egoistic suicide –

In Jharkhand’s Singhbhum, religion census deepens divide among tribals- hindus and non hindus

  • Merton
    • Deviance – drug addiction in Punjab,
    • Reference groups –
    • Latent functions –
    • Manifest functions –
  • Deprivation -The common thread linking pervasive violence in sub Saharan Africa is not just a shared religious ideology characterised by extreme violence and intolerance. The appeal of Islamic militancy to populations in the Sahel, northern Nigeria and the Horn of Africa is underpinned by a lack of inclusive political systems or credible attempts by central governments to address the needs of alienated minorities. Naxal problem,
  • Gender stratification –   Female workers in California will get new tools to challenge gender-based wage gaps under legislation signed into law Tuesday that supporters say offers the strongest equal-pay protection in the nation.  “The stratification and the pay disparities in California and in America, probably in the world, are something that really eats away at our whole society,” Brown said. He called the legislation a “milestone.”  It also protects workers from discrimination and retaliation if they ask questions about how much other people earn, though it doesn’t require that employers provide that information. Workers also will gain the right to sue if they are paid less than someone with a different job title who does “substantially similar” work.
  • Social mobility -Working-class graduates will be given special consideration for jobs at leading firms above affluent applicants.The move aims to improve social mobility in professions dominated by privately educated graduates, such as law and accountancy.
        More young graduates in London now live with their parents than on their own because they are unable to afford the cost of renting or buying a home, while those from outside the capital are finding themselves locked out of the city altogether.   London School of Economics
  • Power Elite –  A study in the psychology of why the average Nigerian wants to be president or governor should be interesting and revealing but one can make an educated guess here that the power and prestige the position confers would be right at the top. Such power and prestige, of course, include predominantly economic advantages. Such economic advantages, the looting of the treasuries as we know it to be, are essentially about the greed of the power elite and the empowering of family members and cronies. In some societies where people are quite capable of linking their collective poverty to the corruption and greed of the power elite, and they resent it, the fight against corruption cannot be the fight of President Muhammadu Buhari, but that of ordinary Nigerians.
  • Power Elite –  Intimately linked to the power elite within the US government, United Fruit extracted huge profits and rejected any reforms that challenged its control of the land. It was the largest landholder and employer in Guatemala. It owned railroads and discouraged the building of highways. It had long controlled Guatemala’s politicians. It’s power was so extensive that one historian compares it to the Dutch East India Company in its influence. It’s shareholders and supporters were amply distributed throughout the foreign policy establishment in the US.
    • How power elites in villages of Bihar remove posters aimed at spreading awareness among the underprivileged.
    • How village elites allocated land to the poor to escape land reform laws.
  • Pressure groups –  The National People’s Party (NPP) which had been formed to look after the interest of the tribal has earned the wrath of several pressure groups from Garo Hills for deciding to field a non-tribal candidate in the upcoming GHADC polls.
    • On whether India should have formed a pressure group of Germany, Japan, Brazil and India to put up a united front for each of the four countries to get permanent seats on the Security Council there are two opinions. Only time will tell whether that was a good move. The detractors contend that by doing that we have endangered the support of Russia which has been a bulwark of support to India in the UN for decades. The Chinese too could shy away from supporting India for working in tandem with Japan with which the Chinese have major differences.
    • RTI No doubt, there are already provisions under the Representation of the People’s Act and the Income Tax Act to bring transparency in the financial aspects of political parties yet the excuse of being kept out of the purview of RTI speaks of their double standards. What is the harm if the political parties too are brought under the provisions of the RTI Act to ensure more transparency? Everybody is equal before law and political parties are no exception. There are numerous organizations and agencies which don’t hesitate to be accountable before the people. Therefore, on priority political parties should be brought under the ambit of the provision of RTI Act.The Central Information Commission (CIC) in 2013 had declared all the six parties (BJP, Congress, CPM, BSP, CPI & NCP) as public authorities.There are certain organizations like Hurriyat Conference in Jammu and Kashmir which indulge in anti-national activities. No doubt, existing laws deal with such criminals who work against the country and indulge in other unlawful activities but the outreach of RTI Act will empower the people to know real faces of those who flourish on their miseries.The Law Commission in its 170th report had also made recommendation for transparency in functioning of political parties, especially on internal democracy, financial transparency and accountability in their working.Apprehension that political rivals might file RTI application with malicious intentions should not come in the way of politicians being made liable to scrutiny.
    • Govt. decision to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Civil Society
    • Namma Bengaluru Foundation-Citizen Partnership (NBF-CP), a citizen and civil society led partnership have launched Citizens Charter for Bangalore to rid the city of corruption, vested interests and to ensure that the recently formed Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council delivers on its promises to the citizens.
    • Terming Civil society as oxygen of democracy, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for International Day of Democracy to be observed on September 15, said that the Civil society acted as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth by keeping Governments accountable by representing the diverse interests of the population, including its most vulnerable groups
    •  Civil society groups from Nagaland and Assam have decided to come together for thrashing out solution to the festering disputes and help building trust between communities in the two states.Christened as ” Naga-Assamese Round Table Talk”, representatives from both the states will take part in a dialogue here on October 9.
  • Protest
    • Kurds protested and went on strike in northern Iraq on Wednesday in a show of growing discontent that threatens to further undermine stability at a time when their region is at war with ISIS.Teachers, hospital workers and other public sector employees have taken to the streets for nearly a week demanding their wages from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is three months in arrears. The demonstrations are the most sustained unrest in the autonomous region of Kurdistan since the start of an economic crisis compounded by the conflict with ISIS and a drop in oil prices that has pushed the region to the verge of bankruptcy.
    • Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) took out a rally here on Tuesday seeking regularisation of their services and increased wages.Their demands include setting up of a corpus fund of Rs. 5 crore for their welfare, immediate release of matching incentive from the State government, online payment, health and life insurance facilities with the government paying half the premium amount, and additional payment when workers provide extra services.ASHA Workers Union, led the protest.
    • FTII protest declared unwarranted by Khan committee
    • Tea plantation workers
    • Lala lajpat rai died during lathi charge while protesting against Simon commission
    • OROP protests
    • protest against app based cabs
    • protest against walmart
    • Protest held over proposed hike in Delhi MLAs’ salaries
  • Agitation
    • Agitation by rain hit farmers in Punjab
    • Agitation by Gujjars for reservation on train tracks
    • Quota agitation by Patidars
  • Collective action
    •  He observed that the main limitation of rural producers in villages was lack of access to markets. He also noticed the positive role co-operatives played in rural economies through collective action. “Besides lack of access to markets, another issue weavers faced was managing the supply chain which was quite complex considering that most of these producers are quite small and are in rural parts of the country,” says the founder and MD GoCoop.
    • Surendra Manan’s film The Battle Begins highlights this collective action to stop pollution of river and water bodies.
  • Revolution
    • Arab spring
  • Religion and science
    • Vegetarian and non vegetarian debate
    • Religion inspires science – space craft, guided missiles in hindu mythology
    • Science inspires religion – online puja, sms, online arti, online darshan
  • Secularization
    • Growing secularization has only enhanced our obsession with money and toys. Even honestly pursuing the American Dream (however that is defined) throws us into an endless cycle of competition, consumption, comparison and stress. Social media, despite its benefits, keeps us ever aware of what others have that we don’t.- USA
    • There is a unique type of secularization at the core of the Islamic segment of society’s adventure of change in Turkey. People personalized their religiosity while they protected it. Thus, different religiosities had a chance to coexist in the Islamic community. While pluralism created the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), it was also naturally encouraged by the party. Thanks to this, the AK Party’s voter base expanded and many different Islamic groups came to be represented under the umbrella of the AK Party.  Secularization was needed to protect the religion.
  • Religious revivalism
    • The evidence would pretty much demonstrate that this was wrong. Religion seems in the 21st century to be enjoying a global revival that was absent in the 20th and downplayed in the 19th.
    • More broadly, as an agnostic and a sceptic, I would be suspicious of the phenomenon of religious revival per se. Having said that, the force and beauty of spirituality must be welcome in an otherwise excessively materialist world.
    • Religious revivalism in China is by no means limited to Christianity; there have been considerable developments in Taoism and Buddhism, some approved, some forcefully disapproved and persecuted, notably the Falun Gong.
  • Fundamentalism
    • Fundamentalist beliefs have driven countless beheadings, bombings, and execution-style murders by terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda in the last year alone.
    • At age 78, writer M.M. Kalburgi remained hard at work at his home in southern India. He was putting the final touches on a lengthy introduction to a volume of ancient Kannada-language verse, which was due to be translated into Mandarin, Japanese, French and Spanish.But one morning late last month, two young men knocked at his door and introduced themselves to his wife as his students. Without warning, they shot Kalburgi twice in the forehead and fled on a motorbike.
    • Attacks on bloggers in Bangladesh
  • Family
    • Single parent and dual-income families have become the norm, and now are more common than the once prevalent two-parent, single-earner households of the mid-20th century.
    • As male involvement in family life increases, now younger men are expected to share in the care and raising of children, often creating dissonance between work expectations and family life.
    • Creating even more pressure on families is the fact that in an increasingly globalized world, many working women and men are continually at risk of losing their jobs to downsizing, or to individuals in other countries where labor is cheaper.
  • We must alter the fundamental assumption that employee and employer interests are mutually exclusive, and in opposition to one another.
    • This scenario becomes even more complex when we factor in social class. Frequently in the U.S., the highest-paid workers tend to receive the best benefits packages (for instance, increased workplace flexibility and paid family leave) while the employees who may have the greatest need for family-support assistance from their employers, may be the least likely to receive them.
  • Patriarchy
    • Decades ago, feminist philosopher Mary Daly claimed that patriarchy is the religion of the planet.
    • the Church still forbids the ordination of women to the priesthood. Catholic women are still not allowed control of their own reproductive lives. Same with other religions.
    • Hindu women are subject to dowries that amount to extortion payments to take women off of families’ hands;
    • We know that ISIS kidnaps and rapes women–with a ready religious justification built from their misreadings of the Qur’an and some Islamic scholars, while Boko Haram kidnaps and rapes girls in Nigeria.
    • The recently released documentary, The Hunting Ground, documents the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses
    • An important message Kangana delivers while talking about gender-discrimination, sexism and patriarchy is that women should stop seeking other people’s approval or caring about what the society expects them to be. She says that she never does films for anybody’s approval as people’s opinion of her always shifts and keeps changing. She says ,”you got to be confident” and “as women we can’t hope to get our due. We need to get up and get it ourselves!”
    • Kangana’s sister is an acid attack victim.
    • “I believe in addition to religious and traditional patriarchy, there is now capitalist patriarchy like pornography, and cosmetics. This thing of women to look pretty, is another patriarchy, item numbers in movies, toy industry — guns for boys and Barbie for girls. Today Teej for me is a form of patriarchy happening in five star hotels, it is the same with Karva Chaudh in India.”
    • One Billion Rising or OBR is a global campaigning against violence against women and girls, started three-four years ago.
  • In the 1980s a new approach, gender and development (GAD), was introduced. GAD focused on gendered division of labour within the home and in waged work, access to and control over resources and benefits, and the material and social position of women and men in different developmental contexts. GAD advocates argued that empowering women and transforming unequal relationships were the solution to gender inequality both within and outside of the family.
  • Sexual division of labour
    • Hollywood’s gender bias is a subject that has been gaining conversational momentum in recent years.  And, as proof that someone is actually listening to this important dialogue, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken steps to interview female filmmakers
    • The technology giant is being sued by a former female employee for alleged gender bias that resulted in lower salaries and lack of promotions for women at the company.
  • Family
    • Single parent family
    • Family trends in US
    • October 12 marks the fourth anniversary of when the United States became a “no-fault nation.” On that date in 2010, New York, the last holdout, finally joined the 49 other states in eliminating the need for divorcing couples to state that the dissolution of their marriage was the “fault” of one or the other.“no-fault divorce has been a disaster,leading to record numbers of divorces and plummeting rates of many researchers have found that although every state that adopted no-fault divorce saw a burst of pent-up divorces in the first few years after passage, divorce rates leveled off thereafter and have actually fallen since no-fault became the norm. Many studies have shown that job loss and financial strain raise the risk of divorce. But divorce rates fell during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and some observers have claimed that “the silver lining” of this more recent economic crisis has been a similar dip in divorce. Regardless of educational attainment, the divorce rate for couples aged 50 and older has doubled since 1990, and it has more than doubled for married individuals aged 65 and older. The recession inhibited many couples from divorcing, leading to about 150,000 fewer divorces between 2009 and 2011 than might have been expected in view of previous trends. However, the divorce rate has ticked up again since then.
    • Shift from consanguine to conjugal family.There is a decline in social roles in families with socialisation roles being shared by other agencies such as peer groups, schools and media.There are changes in the internal structure of families too. The relationships among the family members have also changed with changes in family obligations, decision-making power, socialisation practices and child-rearing practices. The central authority of the eldest male is weakening and there is a reworking of power and authority among family members. The wife now has a greater power in affairs of her home and in decision-making. Parental authority over children has reduced. Children enjoy more freedom to choose their lives, and are consulted in decision-making process. The change is vivid in urban areas. There are simultaneous changes in the traditional value system too. Values like respect for the old and the elderly, care and concern for the weak and the needy, co-operation, service etc, are being replaced by modern values of individual freedom, personal lives, non­-interference and so on.
  • Social change
    • Preethi Herman, country lead of India’s, said: “Launching Hindi on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary is the biggest tribute to the concept that every person can create positive social change.
  • The Ferguson Commission won’t bring social change. Black Lives Matter will
  • Universities should serve as agents of social change and development
    • SSA
    • Cycle distribution in Bihar among girls
    • Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed inaugurated two J&K Bank-developed model schools equipped with state-of-the art Smart Class facilities in South Kashmir on Tuesday, an official spokesman said.
    • Science Express begins 7-month journey to ignite minds
    • Oregon gun menace – volunteers to keep an eye on emotionally unstable students, metal detectors,  reduce access to gun, why only campuses targetted? India – unlicensed arms with robbers, police verification perfunctory, US – misuse of licence
  • Women empowerment – Siswa village in Anand district. All women panchayat elected through consensus.
  • Women MPs refused to go out for a walk with Smriti Irani
  • Mumbai – minority lady in borivali went to hospital to deliver – her husband was in office – hospital turned her away – she tried going to other side of borivalli – delivered on railway track – the infant died

Social change

Maharashtra farmers’ protest:


Regional disparities in India since independence


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