Sociology is one of the most chosen optional subjects for the UPSC examination. Aspirants coming from humanities or science background find this UPSC optional subject very suitable for themselves. One of the main reasons behind choosing this subject is the wide availability of sociology optional books and sample question papers.

Sociology optional syllabus for UPSC is divided into two parts such as Paper-I and Paper-II. Let’s get a detailed knowledge of it.

Sociology Optional Syllabus for UPSC IAS 2021

UPSC Optional Subject Sociology Syllabus for the Paper I

Fundamentals of Sociology

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

Also Read: The Secret to Score Great in Sociology

UPSC Optional Subject Sociology Syllabus for the Paper-II

Indian Society: Structure and Change 

A. Introducing Indian Society:
(i) Perspectives on the study of Indian society:
(a)  Indology (GS. Ghurye).
(b)  Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).
(c)   Marxist sociology (A R Desai).
(ii) Impact of colonial rule on Indian society:
(a)  Social background of Indian nationalism.
(b)  Modernization of Indian tradition.
(c)   Protests and movements during the colonial period.
(d)  Social reforms.
B. Social Structure:
(i) Rural and Agrarian Social Structure:
(a)  The idea of Indian village and village studies.
(b)  Agrarian social structure – the evolution of land tenure system, land reforms.
(ii)  Caste System:

(a)  Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.

(b)  Features of the caste system.
(c)   Untouchability – forms and perspectives.
(iii) Tribal communities in India:
(a) Definitional problems.
(b)  Geographical spread.
(c)   Colonial policies and tribes.
(d)  Issues of integration and autonomy.
(iv) Social Classes in India:
(a)  Agrarian class structure.
(b)  Industrial class structure.
(c)   Middle classes in India.
(v)  Systems of Kinship in India:

(a)  Lineage and descent in India.

(b)  Types of kinship systems.
(c)   Family and marriage in India.
(d)  Household dimensions of the family.
(e)   Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labour.
(vi) Religion and Society:
(a)  Religious communities in India.
(b)  Problems of religious minorities.
C. Social Changes in India:
(i)  Visions of Social Change in India:

(a)  Idea of development planning and mixed economy.

(b)  Constitution, law and social change.
(c)   Education and social change.
(ii)  Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:
(a)  Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes.
(b)  Green revolution and social change.
(c)   Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture.
(d)  Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.
(iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
(a)  Evolution of the modern industry in India.
(b)  Growth of urban settlements in India.
(c)   Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
(d)  Informal sector, child labour.
(e)   Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
(iv) Politics and Society:
(a)  Nation, democracy and citizenship.
(b)  Political parties, pressure groups, social and political elite.
(c)   Regionalism and decentralization of power.
(d)  Secularization.
(v)  Social Movements in Modern India:

(a)  Peasants and farmers movements.

(b)  Women’s movement.
(c)   Backward classes & Dalit movement.
(d)  Environmental movements.
(e)   Ethnicity and Identity movements.
(vi) Population Dynamics:
(a)  Population size, growth, composition and distribution.
(b)  Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.
(c)   Population policy and family planning.
(d)  Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
(a)  Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.
(b)  Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
(c)   Violence against women.
(d)  Caste conflicts.
(e)   Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
(f)  Illiteracy and disparities in education

Also Read: Ace Sociology Optional with These Notes


There are many sociology optional books and study material available online as well as offline that can help any aspirant prepare well. Sociology optional question papers are also easily available thus making it even easier for the aspirants to prepare the paper.

For better preparation and accurate guidance, aspirants can go for top online UPSC classes where they can get a personal mentor to help and guide them. This will not only help them prepare well but will also save their time as they don’t have to run behind collecting study materials because they can get everything ready at one place thus making their preparation journey a lot smoother.

Also Read: How to Score 300+ In Sociology: The Best Optional for UPSC

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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