Blog for IAS aspirants

Strategy for Sociology By Mr. Rajanvir Singh Kapur (AIR-92)

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 01:31

Vote of Thanks

I have to thank Mr. Rajanvir Kapur (Rank-92) for being very kind to spare some time and share his strategy for Sociology in detail with us. I must mention that Mr Rajanvir has gone into minute details and he has completed this writeup despite the fact that he was unwell for many days. He will try and reply to any queries you post but please bear with the delay in his responses. He has scored exceedingly well in Sociology and so I feel he will be able to guide the candidates much better. I thank him on behalf of all the candidates once again.


Rajanvir Singh Kapur

Sociology as a subject is helpful in many ways. A good hold over the subject helps you immensely in handling the social issues in GS as the knowledge comes handy. Even in the essay, there is certainly at least one topic from Sociology. Moreover, the interview also has substantial portion involving social issues and the subject is an asset in such a case. Apart from all these, once you enter the services, a good hold over social realities helps you at all stages. For me, Sociology helped at all these levels to a large extent. As I am an engineer, I can guide you just as much that ensures a good score and performance in the exam.

I will cover my article in fashion of few pivotal questions which you may have. You have some common questions in your mind and the following part of the article will try to help you solve many, if not all. Here we go!

YOU MAY THINK: Which and how many books to study? How to manage such a huge reference list and how to control such large material?

I THINK:Many people, especially peers, may suggest you to refer multiple books to understand the syllabus. But, I differ and differ for sure. You should try to limit the sources while studying but make sure you do that extensively. There is a small trick to this. The trick is that you study some basic stuff, let’s call it ‘Primary’. The primary material should be NCERT books, some fundamental books like Harlemboss for paper 1 and Y.Singh and R.Ahuja books for paper 2. In addition, you buy the ‘Secondary’ material for reference. But, the secondary material should be used only to refer some difficult issues and for adding value to primary.

Adding value to primary means extracting some thinker’s views, case studies etc. Once you have read the Primary material, you should search and add value from secondary material. You can simply look for any new information, cases and books and add it to your primary material notes. You should not read all the books deeply. Rather, one should read few with depth and then simply all new things from multiple sources. Like this, your answers shall be comprehensive, fresh and with diverse knowledge.

YOU MAY THINK: What should be my writing style? How to write good answers in sociology?

I THINK: Writing style is pivotal in getting good score and writing nice answers. For sociology, the key is to keep the language simple and bountiful. By bountiful, I mean that you should use extensively views of thinkers, case studies, book’s names etc. Unlike a subject like Pub Ad, where you can express your views liberally, in sociology you should use the views and opinions of thinkers and sociologists. This, according to me, makes the answers credible and scoring. But, there is one catch here. You should not add case studies for the sake of adding only. They should be relevant to the answer and should help it like good songs of a great Bollywood movie. Like the songs that take the story forward, your answer should flow naturally with the help of these references etc.

YOU MAY THINK: The syllabus looks huge. How do I study the subject? Moreover, how do I study paper 1 and paper 2 in connected way?

I THINK:The best part of Sociology, according to me, is the linkage between the two papers. One should not study the two papers exclusively but together in an intertwined fashion. Once the syllabus is studied like that, the subject takes less time and effort to master and do well in the exam. Now, I will describe a broad theme for such linkage that helped me and would surely help you as well. To easily control a subject like sociology, I personally categorized the whole syllabus into 8 slots. These 8 slots are independent of paper 1 or 2 and link common topics. Even the questions in the exam ask questions that are linked as in these slots.


(This contains independent topics which are not much interconnected with other areas and can be studied separately as a slot.)


1. Sociology – The Discipline:

(a) Modernity and social changes in Europe and 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.


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

(iii) Tribal communities in India:

(a) Definitional problems.

(b) Geographical spread.

(c) Colonial policies and tribes.

(d) Issues of integration and autonomy.

(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.



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, protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

(d) Talcolt 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.


(ii) Caste System:

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

(b) Features of caste system.

(c) Untouchability – forms and perspectives

(iv) Social Classes in India:

(a) Agrarian class structure.

(b) Industrial class structure.

(c) Middle classes in India.



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.


(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 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.



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.


(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



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.


(vi) Religion and Society:

(a) Religious communities in India.

(b) Problems of religious minorities.



9. Systems of Kinship:

(a) Family, household, marriage.

(b) Types and forms of family.

(c) Lineage and descent

(d) Patriarchy and sexual division of labour

(e) Contemporary trends.


(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.



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.


(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.

(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.

(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.

Ina nutshell, if you study the syllabus in these 10 slots, then it will be easier to revise, make notes and also to answer applied questions. Most of the applied questions nowadays make use of such linkages and studying the subject in this fashion makes the job very easy indeed. This helped me tremendously and I am sure it would be beneficial for you too.

YOU MAY THINK: How do I make sure my exam temperament is good? How do I finally revise such huge syllabus and get good score.

I THINK: For amazing performance, you surely need great exam temperament. I believe that great exam temperament comes from the fact that you know that you have revised well and you are sure of your preparation. Now, for this, just imagine two scenarios.

Scenario 1: Your Sociology Mains exam is just 2 days away. You want to do well, but are very confused. There are 20 books, 15 notebooks and 100s of leaflets from coaching kept on your study table. You have marked and highlighted but still you need a lot of time going through so many pages. You pray to God and start studying…….


Scenario 2: Your Sociology Mains exam is just 2 days away. You want to do well, and you are sure you will. There are 20 books, 15 notebooks and 100s of leaflets from coaching in your bag. But, your study table just has those 80 sheets you prepared as NOTES for last time revision. You have already gone through the notes 5 times and you still plan to go through them a lot of times to make sure you do exceedingly well. You pray to God and start studying…….

So, my dear friends, you can very well imagine what will happen in last few days before the exam. The key to have great performance is great revision which is possible through great NOTES. You should, before at least 1 month before the Mains, prepare short notes for entire syllabus. These should be concise, complete, crispy and clear. This will enable you multiple last time revisions. That will ensure that you are comfortably in the Scenario 2 and you go the exam hall beaming with confidence and that will reflect in your answers and result.

I hope the article helped. Lastly, I sincerely congratulate PrinceDhawan for such a wonderful endeavor to help aspirants. All the best friends! In case you have any query, I would try my best to reach back. Thanks and good luck!

  1. hello sir ,
    i m going to appear for cse 2013 with electrical as a 1st optional which i have completed to large extent ,my question is regarding the 2nd optional- sociology,that ,is it possible to prepare for sociology without coaching as i m having some money constraint , and if yes then from which books should i start?


  2. Hi Rajanvir,

    To start with, congrats to You and Prince Dhawan for the great victory!

    Special thanks to both of you for the awesome job you’ve been doing in helping future aspirants through this blog. This indeed makes things easier for amateurs like us.

    I went through all the comments expecting someone to have raised the doubt that I had in mind, in vain:(
    Could you please suggest me the best faculty in Delhi for sociology. Upendra and Mahapatra are 2 names that I have come across. However, reviews about Mahapatra’s classes aren’t very appealing. Would be great if you could provide us with this bit of info.
    Thanks once again. And good luck to both of you in all your future endeavours.

  3. Congrats! you left a porion of the syllabus in restructured syllabus ie- village studies +land tenure+land reforms part. should it be placed in slot 1…

  4. hello Mr. Kapur,
    congrats on your achoevement. and a bunch of thanks for writing on the blog.
    i would like to know from you, if one takes coaching even then the books are to be read primarily? or the notes of the coaching centre for standard topics are sufficient?
    plus, we have been waiting for your list of books.
    thank u! looking forward to ur reply.

  5. Rajanvir Sir could you please give a list of suggested books for both papers.

  6. Wonderful study tips.. Thanks a lot..

  7. Hello Rajanvir Singh …PLS ellabarate how to inter-link of topics from paper1 and paper 2
    for example in
    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.


    (ii) Caste System:

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

    (b) Features of caste system.

    (c) Untouchability – forms and perspectives

    (iv) Social Classes in India:

    (a) Agrarian class structure.

    (b) Industrial class structure.

    (c) Middle classes in India.

    should the content for this topic should be same and case studies from international for paper 1 Indian case studies for paper 2?

  8. Rajanvir i have these books–

    ncert (all 4- 2 of 11th standard and 2 of 12th)
    haralambos with r.herald
    society in India- Ram ahuja
    Anthony giddens 6th edition (i had this book and never touched it, but found some topics are givern pretty good)

    which other books could be referred to?

    U suggested Y. singh book. which one? the one on Changes in Indian Tradition?
    Tanvi sundrayal in her blog refers to “Ritzer’s book to be used selectively for thinkers. which one do u think is d best reference for thinkers and thought.

  9. Hello. I dont have access to yojana magazine at my place. Their website provides only the march version and this is july. how does that work out guys?

    It would very kind of you prince, if u could also get some input on how to go about political science. strategy and detailed plan, just like other subjects very beautifully presented on ur blog. and I am also waiting for the detailed unitwise strategy for sociology from Mr. Rajanvir too.

    • Hi Amrit,
      They usually upload two-three magazines at a time so they will do it sooner or later. If you are in a hurry you can subscribe to the magazine. Details are given on the yojana website.

  10. hi ranvir, what books/material do you recommend for chapters on work and economic life & social change of paper 1.

  11. sir,
    if we have to study harlambos cover to cover? also tell me about nagla book to study how much?

  12. sir,
    please tell me how to prepare current topics like system failure about farmers suicide?

  13. Hi..congratulations on the achievement..
    Please suggest me how imp. is coaching for socio and which one would you prefer?
    Also when should I start preparing for the same for next year’s attempt (I have started coaching for GS so far)?

  14. HI Rajanvir,
    I am a student living outside India and it is a little difficult for me to get books. I have managed to get the following material Harlambos, Upendra’s sociology notes, and Sociological thought by Nagla. Do you think this would suffice or should I make an effort to get the other books two other books you have mentioned for Paper-2.

    • Hi Abhishek
      First of all I must congratulate you that you are thinking about the exam even outside India. It in itself is not a small deed. Your matter is perfect. Just read few NCERTs of sociology and the good news is that they are available on internet. Hope this helps.


  15. Could you please provide us the list of books soon?

    Thank you

    • Hi santosh

      I would do it soon.


      • Hi Rajanvir,

        We are eagerly waiting for the list of books/notes you referred for your preparations. Could you please provide it soon?

        Thank you for your efforts

  16. Rajanvir Sir,
    Thanks for taking out time for helping us. You have made syllabus of sociology very small by intermixing the common topics. It really helps in preparation and shows the correlation between both the papers. Sir I please guide us for second paper.
    Thanks once again!!!

    • Hi Rohit

      Iam glad that you appreciate the concept of linkages. The moment you get the importance of such a thing, half the battle is won! For second paper, you just need an indian perpsective, indian studies, indian thinkers and inter-linked answers.


  17. sir, cud u share ur marks in sociology…

    • Hi Rahul

      I got 342 in sociology. 152 in paper 1 and 190 in paper 2.


  18. sud i read anthony giddens sir ???

  19. firstly hearty congrats sir. plz do provide me with list of books to be referred as secondary source…………also primary & ncert of which class


    • Hi Dwarka

      Your wait shall not be very long. Iam putting it up soon.


  21. Of course Anu.. its possible if u follow the tips and tricks..:)

  22. Hi Rajanvir, first of all, thx for devoting time to aspirants like me through this blog.. plz put some light on these few things-
    1. which book of Y.singh can be used?
    2. can “Periscope” case studies or articles in Hindu be used for sociology paper?
    3. Did u use IGNOU notes? can they be used for thinkers?
    4. If one aims for 2013, should it be tried that optionals be prepared from nowon itself.? ur take on this…. and How much time did it take u to complete it systematically, even though i know timings are personal.
    5. is it really necessary to take coaching for an optional like sociology. i have seen recently upsc is asking very analytical and current related questions..

  23. Sir, my question is simple. When we are required to write precise and to-the-point answers, do you think we can possibly elaborate on case studies? In any case, I do not think we are required to cite them in our answers for purely analytical questions.

    • You can use case studies mainly in long answer questions (without word limit). Even in purely analytical questions, you can supplement your argument with a case study.

  24. Boss could you please also post your scanned 80 pages(comprehensive revision) notes that you have talked about… would be a huge favour..

    also your advanced unit wise strategy is eagerly awaited.

    • Hi Tapeesh
      Thanks for the message. I do not even know where those 80 pages are at the moment. The same would happen to you once you know you will not appear again. However, I shall put an advanced unit wise strategy within some time!


  25. Hello Rajanvir. Is it possible that you could list out the exact names of the books that can be consulted. I mean could you name them topic wise as Prince dhawan has done for pub ad. and how abt using yojana and kurukshetra for sociology?

    • Hi Sanjeev
      I shall put the book list within some time.
      Yojana is very useful, however kurukshetra is a little too exhaustive, so be cautious.


  26. Sir, Thank you for enriching us with a valuable guidance in sociology. I have some doubts and would be glad if you clarify them:
    1. Where from shall we pick up case studies for topics in paper 1 and paper 2 respectively?
    2. Is it sufficient to quote cases from other countries for topics in paper 1 or do we also require to present contemporary relevance of the topics in Indian context?
    3. Do we need to collect information on further developments on the sociological studies of thinkers like Durkhiem, Weber, Marx etc and quote them in the answers?

    • Thanks Purnima.

      For paper 1 , you should refer standard texts. For paper 2, ncerts, notes of coachings can help.
      In paper 1, u could be global but an indian touch is needed in paper 2 . so dnt worry abt paper 1.
      No, u can just apply little to current events, but please get it verified by some socio prof or teacher.


  27. Great article…
    Could you also give an exhaustive book list please

    • Hi Pushkar.

      Thanks! I shall put the book list within some time.


  28. Could you please let me know the titles of the books mentioned? Is it the following:

    Haralambos: Sociology Themes And Perspectives, Oxford
    R. Ahuja: Society In India: Concepts, Theories And Recent Trends, Rawat


  29. thank u for both of. u doin immense rat job by providing valuable information. god bless u both. i have doubt regarding the slots… which rajanvir have given above.. after 4th there is directly 7th.. is it mistype ?

  30. Sociology is a very descriptive subject where one has to write only. Though Prince bhaiya has said that handwriting need not be good but legible; and I agree with that.
    But sometimes while writing answers very fast my handwriting becomes very poor. It is legible when one tries to read but on first look it gives a bad impression..Will I be at loss because of this?

    • Varun

      Though a little bad writing would not be a loss to u, the good writing of others may be an advantage to them which indirectly hurts u. So, its recommended u work a lil on this. It is not a major thing but then u can write bigger, maybe use flowcharts etc.


  31. This is the one i was looking for ,

    1. To Mr. Rajanvir Singh , thanks for the wonderful strategy of mixing the syllabi and the Scenario-2 of final notes for revision. I think they will save a lot of time and build confidence.

    2. To Mr. Prince Dhawan , following this blog since beginning and i must say that any amount of praise will be insufficient for your untiring efforts of bringing so much in one place.. you really doing great.

    Thankyou Again.






    • Hi Dwarka

      Thanks! I shall put the book list within some time. If u r not attending coaching it will not at all impact ur performance. what u shud do is buy the notes of few good coaching institutes and go thru thm. all the best 🙂



  33. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  34. Dear sir,
    information provided on blog is definitely good. I am seeking further help for sociology mains. my question is to Mr. Rajanvir Singh Kapur.
    question is ….how we can collect case studies and book’s name? if we have to search for any journal or Yojana is sufficient?
    Please respond.

    • Hi Dinesh
      I would put a detailed book list within some time.
      Regarding case studies, you will get them in books only. Most of popular ones are in the books only.


  35. Dear Rajanvir Singh

    Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your huge success. Thanks for sharing the detailed strategy which helped you to get there, I sincerely appreciate your efforts.I being an Engineering & MBA student found Sociology as very interesting and close to our daily life. Your strategy would be of great help to me …… Thank you once again

    • thank u so much arjun. u r pretty right arjun… just hit the target like arjun:) all the best


  36. Thanks a lot for this blog. However, being a new to this subject, I would like to know which books I need to study for Paper 1 and 2.

    I have printed notes of Saroj Samal. Could you please let me know if these can be considered as primary source along with NCERT books.

    Thank you again.

    • Hi Santosh

      Thanks! I shall put the book list within some time. Yes, u can take them as primary source 🙂 add some secondary too!!!


  37. Thanx a lot for this valuable strategy …..i am sure, it will help a lot to get hold on the subject……


  38. Dear Rajanvir Singh,

    Thanks a lot for your detailed article. I am sure by following your strategy of studying the different slots it would become pretty easy to score. But considering the huge volume of syllabus, when would be the ideal time to start preparing, say for CSE 2013 ? And how important is coaching for Sociology ? It would be of great help if you could throw more light upon these things.

    Thanks and Regards

    • thanks karthik.. iam sure the strategy wud help u. if u wana write cse 2013, u can surely start at the earliest. its a race and good start helps! 2nd question on coaching, it becomes important if you want to finish your work systematically in a proper timeframe. in coaching, u get a competitive environment and that may help. however, if u r short of time, then u cud get notes of popular institutes and that may suffice. many toppers have done that and i did it too for sociology… all the best!


      • sir,
        which book of ram Ahuja, we have gone through bcz there are three books?. harlambos we have to study cover to cover or topic wise? for general questions for 2nd paper like social impact of caste census, or failure of system for suicide of farmers, how sud tackle these type of questions?
        it will be great help if you put the list of books against topics.

      • sir,
        i am preapring sociology own my own. i joined Daksha test series. he has posted your photo at his coaching institute. which coaching notes you follwed. sir give some valuable suggestions to score good in sociology?

  39. thank yu both of you(Mr.Prince Dhawan and Mr.Rajanvir Singh Kapur).The blog is of immense help.I am a passout.I want to enquire about coaching for public admin and sociology.Is it really necessary to join a coaching?(I m confused due to availabilty of large number of coahing centers in Delhi.Also the less time is left for self study after going to coaching daily)

    • hi monika, coaching becomes important if you want to finish your work systematically in a proper timeframe. in coaching, u get a competitive environment and that may help. however, if u r short of time, then u cud get notes of popular institutes and that may suffice. many toppers have done that and i did it too for sociology… all the best!

      • thank you so much sir!!

      • sir,can u plz specify the titles of the sociology books by haralambos.I actually found two books one with orange cover n the other with blue color.which would should i refer ??

      • helllo sir,
        congrats a lot ……sir can u plz tell me the coaching notes of which teacher/institute is best???

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