Important books for UPSC Sociology | By Ashish Kumar, 304 marks in Sociology

Whether you join a coaching institute or not, you need to build a conceptual understanding of important topics in UPSC Sociology. This makes reading some BASIC BOOKS extremely important. In addition to these basic books, you may go for HIGHLY SELECTIVE reading of some reference books.

Basic Books for UPSC Sociology

Oxford Sociology dictionary [Must Read]  Click here : For conceptual clarity of common terms like FAMILY, SOCIETY, MARRIAGE etc. The book will help you in giving a brief introduction of these topics in UPSC Mains exams. Questions will come from these topics, and introducing them is a must. Whether you attend a coaching or not, this book is a must read. Click here 

Oxford Sociology Dictionary –

for conceptual clarity of syllabus topics

Sociology Paper 1

  • Haralambos & Holborn Sociology : Themes and Perspectives [Must Read]  Click here  [Cost is slightly on the higher side, however, it’s worth every penny spent on it]
  • Sociology : Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Heald     Click here

They form the backbone of Sociology preparation. The book by Haralambos and Holborn (Blue book) is written in a very easy-to-understand language. There are many examples, case studies etc. to elaborate a topic. That’s why it is thicker. Do NOT read the book cover to cover. Go for selective reading of the book. Keep syllabus and previous year questions by your side while reading the book.

The book by Haralambos and Heald (Orange book) has been recommended by many previous year toppers. You may find it difficult to get hold of the content in the first reading. However, on subsequent reading you would find developing a sociological insight. The book is thinner. At the end of every chapter a sociological analysis of the topic is given.

  • Sociological Theory by George Ritzer   Click here

Read ONLY Sociological Thinkers from this book. If you are starting after Prelims, read only the topics mentioned in syllabus. If you are reading before Prelims, you can cover the entire chapter of thinkers. This would give a wider picture of how a particular thinker looked at social phenomenon. Do not forget to read the biography of thinkers. This would give an insight into how their life events shaped their attitude towards society. For example, Karl Marx was forced to leave Germany. He spent almost his entire life in poverty. This had an impact on his theory.

Sociology Paper 2

  • Indian Sociological Thought by B K Nagla [Must Read]   Click here

This book is like Haralmbos of Paper 2. Read concepts like Indology, Structural functionalism and Marxist Sociology multiple times. They are covered in 4-5 pages each. Then, read the respective theorists G S Ghurye, M N Srinivas, A R Desai. Their concepts can be utilized in most of the topics of Paper 2. Also, relate their theories to the theories in Paper 1 e.g. Functionalism, Marxism etc. UPSC, is now, asking Paper 2 topics in Paper 1, we should change our preparation strategy accordingly.

  • Modernization of Indian tradition by Yogendra Singh   Click here

In addition to the syllabus topic “Modernization of Indian tradition,” it also helps in other topics of Paper 2. Topics like “Sanskritisation,” “Westernisation” etc. are covered in lucid manner. You may need multiple reading of a particular topic.


Introducing Sociology    Click here

Understanding Society Click here

Indian Society Click here

Social Change and development in India Click here

You cannot ignore these books at any cost. Examples, illustrations and definitions in these books can be directly used in answers. Topics like “Social movement” are dealt with in detail. Another example, Why politics is wedded to caste. and why it is not an abnormal incident is covered properly. You can also try using terminologies from NCERTs in your answers.

      Reference Books (last  for UPSC Sociology)

Read these books only if the books mentioned above and government sources do not adequately cover a topic. These books should be read highly selectively. You would be digging your grave if you read them end to end.

Sociology by Anthony Giddens Click here

Contemporary Sociology by Francis Abraham   Click here

Social problems in India by Ram Ahuja   Click here

Indian Society and Culture by Nadeem Hasnain   Click here

Social movements in India by Ghanshyam Shah   Click here

Social Change in modern India by M N Srinivas   Click here

Please remember, Sociology as a subject is fortunate to have ample government resources as source material. There are IGNOU, NCERT (Old and New), NIOS, UGC & NPTEL material available.

We are working on filtering out the most relevant materials from the above government sources.

You can enter your doubts, if any, in comments section (end of the page). Hope this article is useful!

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26 thoughts on “Important books for UPSC Sociology | By Ashish Kumar, 304 marks in Sociology

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  1. thanks for the extremely useful post sir… helps those who do self preparation like me… could you please brief this trend sir and how to approach such strategy. “UPSC, is now, asking Paper 2 topics in Paper 1, we should change our preparation strategy accordingly”


    1. 1. Using Merton’s concepts of ‘manifest’ and ‘latent’ functions, explain the persistence of corruption in Indian society.UPSC 2014
      2. How could one use Merton’s concept of deviance to understand the traffic problem in urban India? UPSC 2014

      Above questions are India specific which normally the domain of Paper 2. So, there is a shift towards to interlinking paper 1 and 2. We should accordingly try and apply paper 1 concepts in paper 2 and vice versa.

      On the whole, it is about APPLICATION of concepts.


  2. Need more details regarding paper 2. Can the whole syllabus be covered from ncerts, bk nagla, yogendra singh?


    1. More sources are required. Plz go through the IGNOU PDFs for paper 2. They have been shared on this blog. Also, you may need class notes for some extremely rare topics like migration etc.


  3. sir i would like to join coaching for this optional please suggest me which coaching institute is best or which teacher is best for sociology in delhi……..Thanks sir..


  4. Thank you so much for the guidance. Clears many a doubts of mine. I have one more earnest request — can you please post one of your sociological mock test/answer writing paper?

    It would be immense help to see where am missing something. Again thank you sir.


  5. Thanks a lot….
    Could you also say which are the chapters to be read / not read from Haralambos & Holborn Sociology : Themes and Perspectives


  6. Hello Sir,
    Thank you for the wonderful blog.

    Can you please tell how was your notes making approach from Harlambos? It consumes lot of time to read as well as make notes for first time readers.


  7. Thanks for the help sir.
    I am a working professional having 9.5 hours of shift. Can you please tell me the list of only books which i will follow as bible.


  8. Sir thanks a lot for the above information but is it enough to prepare the books which you are mentioned above or else need to study IGNOU materials also please give me a reply sir


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