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AIR-420, CSE-2015, First Attempt.
B.E. in ECE (2010-2014).
Sociology score-231(Paper 1-107, Paper 2-124).
I didn’t have any thought of writing this article about Sociology after I have secured 231 which is an average score. But I have always believed that studying an optional for CSE Mains is not all about marks but the thought process, perspectives, self-belief and the personality that will be shaped up over the course of studying the optional. This thought has motivated me to write this article and I hope this helps all those who have taken up Sociology and the ones who aspire to take Sociology as an optional in coming days.
Why did I choose Sociology?
I had no idea about any optional before choosing one for the UPSC mains examination. Though I was from engineering background, I was sure that I will not select Engineering subjects as my optional. The reason is simple. I was an average student during my graduation and never enjoyed studying engineering subjects. I was sure that my optional will be one among the non-engineering subjects. But selecting one among the likes of History, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology and many others was even challenging one. I even attended introduction class of many of these at various institutes in Chennai. But I decided to take up Sociology after going through the syllabus and analyzing previous years’ question papers. I found the subject matter familiar and dynamic compared to others. (No offence to other optionals!! .It’s my personal opinion.) I strongly felt that I could do some justice the questions asked in Mains exam without knowing much deeply about it.
The dynamic nature of Sociology and it’s closeness to the individual.
Sociology is like a flowing river but the course of its flow is quite static. After studying it one will have the ability to predict how and where it can be related to everyone. This nature of Sociology makes everyone have their own perspectives. One relates its concepts, theories very closely to his village, town, city and above all the society he is part of it. It may start from observing the surroundings, the social setting and communicating with others.
The difference between Paper 1 and Paper 2
Paper 1 and Paper 2 differ in their subject and application. While Paper 1 is about the basics, theories of core thinkers from all over the world. A high investment of time over this paper is crucial as one needs to get his /her basics right. Also the success of paper 2 depends on the strong grip one holds over Paper 1.
Paper 2 is highly dynamic as it is India specific. It needs regular updating over the societal changes in India. . For example Caste system is undergoing modernization and it is changing every now and then. Indian thinkers and their studies shall be the foundation for our answers in Mains exam.
Sociology-An optional indispensable with thinkers
Since multiple thinkers have given multifold perspectives on a particular subject, it makes life a bit difficult for the takers (!!!). Every side of an issue is important and needs its mention in our answers. It is essential that we base our answers with thinkers in every answer we write otherwise it will just be an answer but not an outstanding answer. It is quite challenging but not impossible. Repeated study and answer writing on every topic will make this attainable. I did also make a table of thinkers for every sub-topic in the syllabus and it was of great help during revisions.
Newspaper and Sociology
The approach to newspaper with Sociology as optional needs a bit of modification. When every other aspirant doesn’t bother to read about political and controversial issues occurring in the editorials of major newspapers, as a Sociology student one needs to enter this arena. They are quite time consuming but can fetch you great scores if one can extract core ideas and observations. For example when Bihar elections were in news, every national daily published editorials on the politics involved in it. It is of no importance to a civil service aspirant except basic information about the elections. But a Sociology student needs to observe things such as how ‘politicization of caste’ is in process. The election results revealed that Yadavs and Kurmis in Bihar voted for their own candidates which shifted the dynamics of the elections. This observation can be mentioned in our answers when there is question about modernization of caste.
Reference Books and Sources
- Themes and perspectives in Sociology by Haralambos- I consider this as the bible of Sociology and every first time reader of Sociology must start from here. A must refer book
- Sociological thought (selective read) by Abhram and Morgan Must read for Western Thinkers like Marx, Weber and Durkheim.
- Fundamentals of Sociology by Vikas Ranjan- Great reference for thinkers and revision after prelims. It has numerous thinkers for every topic which is very handy.
- Sociologyguide.com- I referred this for understanding basic terms in Sociology. It has great summary compilation for every line mentioned in the syllabus.
- IGNOU Material (Available Online)- Easy, simple language will give us basic knowledge of thinkers and Syllabus.
- Self made notes from Haralambos and Vikas Ranjan.
- Principals of Sociology by C.N.Shankar Rao- Good read for simple and lucid explaination of the topics.
- Application of Sociology by Vikas Ranjan- Highly recommended for Indian thinkers. To some extent it solves the shortage of thinkers in Paper 2.
- Sociology notes by Rajitha madam at Shankar IAS Academy,Chennai.
- IGNOU material
- Social problems in India by Ram Ahuja- For basic and statistical details of Indian issues.
Enjoy the preparation over the course of one and half year. Take your time to get your basics right. Work hard. Hard work always fetches good returns and it is the Rule of Nature. Go ahead with self belief and honesty.
Maintain a good friend circle and people who believe in you. Plan your preparation accordingly. It is said that A Goal without a plan will just be a wish. Chase your dreams. Glory is yours. All the best.