Ritzer: Important chapters for UPSC Sociology

Sociological thinkers form the core of UPSC Sociology preparation.

  • If you are not taking coaching it is advisable to go for this book.
  • A good fraction of questions are directly sourced from thinkers.
  • Also, it is imperative to quote thinkers in an answer to render a Sociological touch.
  • A decent understanding of concepts will help you develop that Sociological perspective required to do justice to a UPSC question.

How to read this book

  • You may require multiple readings to understand the concepts.
  • Stick to topics mentioned in syllabus. Read peripheral topics only when they are important to understand a syllabus topic. For example, you can read DIALECTICS to understand these concepts of Marx – class struggle, alienation etc.
  • Make short notes only in third reading.
  • Before UPSC Mains, read the full texts a couple of times. Revise the short notes only during revision phase.
  • Do read life history of thinkers (given in boxes) in their respective chapters. It will help you understand why a particular thinker chose those specific subject areas only.

Click here to download the book (8th edition)

Name of chapter and topics to be studied

Page numbers are not given as different candidates may have different editions of this book. These chapters and topics can be directly found in 8th edition.

Karl Marx

  • The Dialectic
  • Past, Present, Future
  • Actors and Structures
  • Human Potential
  • Labor
  • Alienation
  • Society
  • Capital, Capitalists, and the Proletariat
  • Exploitation
  • Class Conflict
  • Ideology
  • Religion

Emile Durkheim

  • Social Facts
  • The Division of Labor in Society
  • Repressive and Restitutive Law
  • Suicide
  • Suicide Rates and Social Reform
  • The Elementary Forms of Religious Life
  • Theory of Religion—The Sacred and the Profane
  • Why Primitive?


(Sociological Theory)

Max Weber

  • Methodology
  • History and Sociology
  • Verstehen
  • Causality
  • Ideal Types
  • Values
  • What Is Sociology?
  • Social Action
  • Class, Status, and Party
  • Structures of Authority
  • Rationalization
  • Religion and the Rise of Capitalism
  • Criticisms

Structural Functionalism, Neofunctionalism, and Conflict Theory

  • Talcott Parsons’s Structural Functionalism
  • Robert Merton’s Structural Functionalism

Symbolic Interactionism

  • The Ideas of George Herbert Mead
  • The Priority of the Social
  • The Act
  • Gestures
  • Significant Symbols
  • Mind
  • Self
  • Society

You may find some other topics relevant, however, you would be covering them in other sources like Haralambos, IGNOU etc. It is better to revise them rather than going for multiple sources for the same topic. Do not become study material COLLECTOR before becoming District COLLECTOR.

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