Sociology is a popular subject among IAS Aspirants and requires a holistic understanding of the entire syllabus. This post lists the most recommended Sociology books for IAS Paper 1 and Paper 2.
Sociology Books for Paper 1
1. Sociology- Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn
The most definitive and must read book for Paper 1, often considered the Bible of Sociology. In fact to understand what’s Sociology is all about read Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Holborn. This book touches upon all aspects of paper 1 be that family, marriage, kinship, stratification, power, economic system etc. In the old Prelims syllabus nearly 20-25 questions were asked from this book alone. Even in mains, this book is indispensable. The biggest plus point about Sociology Themes and Perspectives is its language. Simple, easy to understand, comprehensive. It also contains relevant case studies of different social systems and phenomena that should be quoted in the IAS mains to score well.
2. Sociological Theory by George Ritzer
Since the chapter on Sociological Thinkers is crucial to your understanding of other topics of Paper 1 and will largely determine your score in this paper a good book is recommended on this topic. Sociological Theory by George Ritzer is highly recommended for covering thinkers in detail.
It covers all the sociological theories under three parts – Classical theories (Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, George Simmel), Modern theories and post-Modern theories.
In this way, it Sociological Theory by Ritzer covers the Paper 1 syllabus in detail and even goes beyond so when UPSC revises the civil services syllabus, this book will still be relevant.
3. Methodology and Techniques of Social Research by Jaspal Singh
Unit 3 of Sociology syllabus is about Research Methods and Analysis. Many students tend to skip this section altogether in their preparation as they don’t consider it that important from the Mains viewpoint. But given UPSC’s fickle nature they could ask more than one question from this unit. To plug this hole you should read Methodology and Techniques by Jaspal Singh.
Methodology and Techniques explains the basics and details of various research methodologies used by social researchers as well as techniques of data collection and sampling methods. A good book to tackle the unit 3 syllabus.
How to cover the other units of Paper 1?
The topics like Systems of Kinship, Religion and Society, Works and Economic Life don’t require dedicated book rather they they are based on the works of social thinkers. So first understand their work in depth and then combine this understanding with topics and social studies from Haralambos to frame your answers. Also prepare your own clippings of social surveys if you come across them in magazines or The Hindu to make your answers stand out.
Sociology Books for Paper 2
4. Indian Sociological Thought by BK Nagla
BK Nagla has authored a very important book titled Indian Sociological Thought that covers that contribution of all the important sociologists and schools of sociology in India. All the different perspectives and narratives of Indian sociology, be that the sub-altern perspective or Marxist or Functionalist or Stratification or Cultural etc are covered.
This will equip you to answer Paper 2 questions with confidence. Indian Sociological Thought is a recommended book for Paper 2.
5. Caste Its Twentieth Century Avatar by M.N Srinivas
The most striking reality of India is not class but caste and M.N Srinivas, one of the foremost Indian Sociologists, explains the caste system from the structural-functionalist perspective in a language that is very easy to comprehend. Caste its Twentieth Century Avatar explains how caste equations have evolved in India after the Independence phase and particularly after the Mandal politics of 1990’s.
Caste and its 20th Century Avatar by M.N Srinivas tries to understand how the caste structure and equations has changed over the years.
6. Social Change in Modern India by M.N Srinivas
Social change is another important focus of the Sociology syllabus. After all no society, however rigid, is completely statics and change in different degrees modifies it in myriad ways. To understand the changes taking place in Indian society right from the British period M.N Srivivas has written this very short and readable book called Social Change in Modern India. Through this book Srinivas refutes Louis Dumont’s theory of a static and unchanging India. A Social Change in Modern India for Sociology mains paper.
I can go on about sociology books but the fact is the above books are enough to cover the meat of the syllabus. For rest of the syllabus instead of referring individual books go through the IGNOU notes that covers the remaining paper 2 syllabus adequately.