Academics apart, Sociology, and specifically UPSC syllabus of Sociology, will help you improve as an individual.
It has made me more democratic as an individual.
I have become more accommodative to conflicting views – thanks to critical perspectives to every Sociological theory. Many of my long standing doubts have been resolved. For example, marriage in Indian context is about union of two families, whereas in the west marriage is about union of two individuals. That’s why the accompanying instability of marriages in western societies. This is just one example. Now, I can appreciate why policy makers are advocating incorporation of humanities in engineering colleges.
So, welcome to the world of Sociology!
Below is a step by step guide for a beginner to prepare UPSC Sociology.
Step 1. Develop a genuine interest in the subject
This is THE most important aspect of UPSC optional preparation. You have to spend a good number of days with your optional subject. Unless you ‘feel like’ studying the subject matter, it would be difficult.
– Do not read any theoretical aspect at the outset.
– Read NCERT Class 12th (not 11th) with an open mind.
– Read this graphics guide to Sociology. (Click on ‘more buying options’ for cheaper alternative) It explains basic Sociological concepts through pictures. It will help you visualize them, thus enabling easy representation in actual exams.
How to gauge whether you are interested in Sociology? [Many aspirants have this doubt]
One of the signs is, you won’t feel like leaving the topic until you have completed it. You won’t have an idea of how much time has passed since you started reading.
Step 2. Go through the syllabus and previous year questions (after 2008), exhaustively
It is important to know what you need to study. It is more important to know what you DO NOT need to study. Syllabus is very important. If possible, MEMORISE the syllabus topics. Relate the topics of Paper 1 and Paper 2. Form mind maps of syllabus. If you have started reading newspapers, relate a news item to relevant UPSC Sociology syllabus topic.
Take this quiz frequently to check your grasp over UPSC Sociology syllabus.
Step 3: First reading of related materials for UPSC Sociology
This is the first reading. Do not make notes.
You can refer to topic wise IGNOU notes- Paper 1 | Paper 2
Try to assimilate the concept when you read it. Relate them to events around you. For example, if you are working in IT sector, relate it to Marx’s concept of alienation.
Purchase this book by Haralambos and Holborn (Blue book). Make a highly selective reading of this book. Related page nos. of an old edition are given here. You would need to read the corresponding pages in your book. Do not pay much attention to case studies mentioned in this book. They are not required anymore. Reading this book would enable you to develop your own insights. What you read from readymade notes are the insights of the person who prepared those notes. Hope you understand what I am trying to convey! There is an orange book by Haralambos and Heald. It is currently not available online.
For Paper 2 thinkers, please refer to this book by B.K.Nagla. Quote the findings of these thinkers in your answers. For example you can quote G S Ghurye in questions related to integration of tribes.
You may struggle with definitions of some terms mentioned in the above sources. Also, you may find that some topics from syllabus have not been covered. Do not worry about it now! They are covered below.
Step 4: Second reading and note making
-Get 2 ring binder files and A4 sheets
-Go through previous year questions again. This would help you in sticking to the demand of UPSC exam while making notes
-Go through the sources mentioned in Step 3. Make notes in A4 papers and compile them in the ring binder file. In future, when you make value addition to these topics, you can simply put the A4 sheet at its right place in the file. Thus, all notes of a particular topic would be at one place – easy to revise in the last few days before exam.
-Get this Oxford dictionary for Sociology. It would help you improve your understanding of Sociological terms. In many answers you are required to begin with a definition of the term mentioned in question. This book would be handy.
A common problem is Paper 2 getting less focus than Paper 1. To address this, I have prepared a combined strategy that groups related topics form Paper 1 and Paper 2.
You can follow the above strategy, and you will observe how you have started relating topics from Paper 1 and Paper 2. ALWAYS keep UPSC Sociology syllabus and previous year question by your side. You are gradually becoming a pro in UPSC Sociology 🙂
Step 5: Value addition and filling the gaps
It is now time to cover the missing topics and further enrich the content already made.
Check the sources below. In the first reading itself jot down points in your A4 sheet, and attach these sheets at the right place in the ring binder file. Once you have made notes from these sources, further reading may not be required.
Coaching handwritten notes: Upendra Gaur Sir for Paper 1 &
Mohapatra Sir for Paper 2| PDFs for unconventional topics | Real world examples |
Articles with Sociological perspectives | NIOS topicwise notes |NCERT topic wise notes | Book list
Note: NCERT Sociology is an undiscovered treasure. In the first reading you may find it irrelevant. The more you get accustomed to nuances of UPSC Sociology, the more respect you would develop for NCERT. Read all 4 NCERTs now; make notes and fit them at their designated place in the ring binder file. Pay special attention to the language, try to replicate the same in your answers in Paper 2. Embed your answers with examples, case studies etc. given in these NCERTs. These examples and case studies would act as an icing on the cake.
Hope you have not forgotten keeping syllabus and previous year questions by your side while you make these notes.
Step 6: Keep an eye on current affairs, Budget, Economic survey, reports, government schemes etc.
Economic survey 2017 has a chapter on Son meta-preference [UPSC Sociology Syllabus topic: Patriarchy]
Economic survey 2017 is in pink color [Useful in women empowerment topics]
Every year budget has provisions for elderly, women etc. [Useful for Paper 2]
Current affairs: Join our telegram channel https://t.me/sociology_upsc => Type “#socioDNA” for all related posts by me. Current affairs can be found by typing “#socioCA”
|Affordable Tab for studying online | Compile all your notes | Read on the go | Watch videos | Get peer review online
Time to evaluate yourself
You already have previous year questions (mentioned above in Step 2). Attempt questions of each UPSC Sociology syllabus topic. You may start from 2008 paper – there was a pattern change in 2008.
Refer to blogs of UPSC Sociology toppers. Do not follow them blindly. Use their strategy to modify yours if required.
Attend a test series. Stick to its routine religiously. Form a group of serious aspirants for discussion.
If you are serious, the worst that can happen is you being a better individual!
All you need is:
Sociology syllabus and prev. year questions ||
Sociology through images and graphics ||
Haralambos and Holborn (Blue book) ||
NCERT Class 11th and 12th ||
B.K Nagla for Paper 2 ||
Sociology dictionary by Oxford||
Class notes of Paper 1 (Upendra Sir) & Paper 2 (Mohapatra Sir) [Click here for complete Sociology notes of Upendra Gaur Sir]
Internet connectivity and lots of answer writing practice. Do revise your own answers. There are two benefits of doing this:-
1. Every subsequent revision will reveal to you the areas you need to improve, how to further improve that particular answer. Others can rarely do this for you!
2. You will be in touch with your strong areas, thus increasing the chances of replicating them in actual exam.
I have tried to present an exhaustive write up on how to begin UPSC Sociology preparation from scratch. Feel free to drop me a note on firstname.lastname@example.org in case of any doubt. Remember, no doubt is silly!
All the best!
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