Sociology Optional Program @ Insights Offline Centre, Bangalore
Orientation Session | 9.30 AM | 21 October 2018 | Batch starts Dec 2018
NOTE: This orientation class will be followed by Discussion of Mains 2018 Sociology Optional paper
What is sociology?
Isaac Newton created history with his path breaking understanding of physics. But what if Newton sat under a coconut tree instead of an apple tree! Would he have invented a helmet instead of discovering the laws of motion? Welcome to one of the central debates in Sociology – do individuals shape society or do social conditions shape individuals?
Have you ever wondered why nurses, receptionists, air-hostesses, primary school teachers are mostly women; while doctors, CEOs, pilots and university professors, mostly men?
As an aspiring civil servant, if you are asked to write a policy for the welfare of tribals, what will you write? Would you want to protect them from the exploitative ‘mainstream’ by isolating them? Or would you want to teach them ‘modern’ ways of life so that they are integrated into the wider society?
What about untouchability? Most of us believe that untouchability barely exists in 21st century India. Then why is it that in most homes, maids are fed in utensils that are different from the rest?
If these questions seem to interest you; and if you have begun to think critically about what could be the possible answers – you are already a student of sociology!
Sociology and Anthropology for UPSC – What is the difference?
Let’s look at how societies by and large evolved.
- First, the origin of the human being – the journey of becoming ‘wise’ (homo sapiens).
- Then, with our wisdom, we cooperated with other humans leading to the formation of first societies – ‘primitive’ or tribal societies that were in a hunting-gathering mode.
- Later, with surpluses came the agrarian feudal societies.
- And now, we witness ‘modern’ industrial or post-industrial societies.
1 is core anthropology (involving areas such as genetics & archaeology). 4 is core sociology. 2 and 3 are a mix of both – studied in both the optionals’ – called ‘Social Anthropology’.
You would be interested to know that India’s prominent Sociologist, M. N. Srinivas, argued that, “India’s sociology is social anthropology”. Can you think why?
What is the benefit of taking sociology for the exam (and beyond)?
‘Utility’ of taking Sociology as an optional would include:
- 250 marks in the Essay Paper. You can comfortably attempt both the essays in Section A and B with your knowledge of sociology. For instance, the essays on Poverty (Section A) and Customary morality (Section B) in 2018 Mains are sociological in nature.
- Nearly 80 to 100 marks in GS Paper I come from Indian Society. For instance questions 8, 9, 10, 13, 18, 19, 20 from the latest GS 1 Mains paper could be written very well with a sociological understanding.
- An unquantifiable number of marks with respect to GS Paper IV (Ethics). There will be a bit of sociology in every ethics answer you write.
- Your Personality Test will be tragic if you don’t understand the society you live in or the world around you. This is irrespective of whether you take sociology as an optional or not. However, a student of sociology will have an edge.
Many aspirants want to change the world for the better. They want to solve the problems ailing society. Shouldn’t understanding society be the first step then? Your pursuit of sociology will be an enriching and a liberating experience. Your love for it will continue much after the examination is over.
Is sociology a scoring and a ‘safe’ optional?
Sociology’s scores have always been promising. In 2017 for instance, students I guided clocked scores of 300 plus. However, this should NOT motivate you to choose sociology.
Academic research (having access to data from UPSC that is not readily available to public) states that NO subject has a sustained advantage. So if you want to pick Subject A, because it is doing well in 2017, it may not do well in 2018.
It is important to realize that aspirants from EVERY optional clear Mains and go to the Personality Test. So, all that is required to go to the interview and top the exam is to perform your respective optional to the best of your ability.
So how to choose an optional?
Picking an optional should be based on three criteria – one, interest in the subject; two, early advantage i.e. if the subject is the same as studied in college; and lastly, availability of guidance.
The problem with the first criteria is that we don’t even understand the syllabi of many subjects, to decide what interests us. Truth is, all subjects are interesting and have cross utility i.e. help you in other papers as well. Coming to second criteria, India is a land where all become engineers (or whatever) first and then think as to what to become. This is an interesting sociological question in itself. In this context, the third criterion – guidance – has acquired supreme importance.
Is coaching mandatory then?
Subjects associated with UPSC need basic understanding. You can prepare on your own. However, time is a severe constraint. The optional subjects for instance are taught in universities for a period of 4 to 5 years. Good coaching is all about reducing this time.
Please remember that optional scores are decisive too. In no way to undermine GS, but GS papers hardly fetch 100 plus marks with good preparation. Similar efforts in optional can easily yield 150 marks plus. Good returns on time invested.
So in order to score well in sociology or any subject in UPSC you need three things –
- Basic English (or any language you are comfortable with). This is particularly relevant, as there is a myth that one needs to have exceptional English language skills to write sociology. This is not true. Class X English is more than sufficient.
- Reading the right books. No classroom teaching in this world matches self-study.
- Good guidance. If possible through out the exam cycle. Whether this comes from a formal coaching organisation or a senior or a friend is immaterial.
To know more about Sociology and how to ace it in UPSC Civil Services Main Examination
9.30 AM | 21 October 2018 | Insights OGP Centre, Bangalore
Hope you find joy in learning,
My journey in Sociology began in 2004. I have a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Sociology. Having awarded UGC-NET-Junior Research Fellowship, I am currently pursuing my PhD in the area of Sociology of Organisations from the University of Hyderabad. Intermittently, I collaborate with my faculty on ICSSR funded-research; some of which got published by Rawat and Allied.
Coming to my civil services journey, I was an aspirant. 6 Attempts. 5 Mains and 4 Interviews. That has been my journey, thanks to the good scores in Sociology. I have been teaching students for civil services in coaching institutes of repute for about 4 years. Indian Society and Indian Art and Culture for General Studies and Sociology as an optional.