Recommended Sociology Books for IAS

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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.

Also ReadSociology Optional Preparation Strategy for UPSC Mains

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.

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography


I am the content head at IASKracker.com. But, I am foremost your friend, mentor and guide to help you crack the IAS exam. I have cleared the Prelims 4 times in a row and also reached the IAS Interview. I have been guiding hundreds of IAS Aspirants since 2009 to help realize their dream of cracking the IAS exam.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 48 comments
RAM JI KUSHWAHA - June 24, 2014

Im an engineering graduate.. . Im confused in choosing the optional whether sociology or pub ad.. As both are new to me i dont know the difference between these two. Plz give some suggestions sir..

deepak patidar - July 23, 2014

sir maine12th kar liya hai kya me ab ias ki tayyari start kar sakta hu

dhana - October 25, 2014

I would like to take sociology optional. Im an engineering graduate. Will doing MA Sociology from Ignou help in optional. What is the petcentage of its use in sociology optional.

kailash - August 22, 2015

hello… sir i want material/books for sociology,how to get it pls guide me..!

soumya - November 10, 2015

I am Soumya.I have applied for ODISHA CIVIL SERVICES EXAM-2015.My prelimnary exam is already completed and main exam will be on Jan 15,2015.So I have only 2 months of time.I have taken SOCIOLOGY AND PUBLIC ADMIN. as my compulsory Optional paper. I am currently employed in pvt company…so I am not getting enough time to study.

I have already written all the syllabus of sociology and pub. ad below for your reference.

Please kindly tell me the books name with author that will come as sufficient for this subjects. I want you to tell me those books name which will be sufficient to crack the exam. I know I am behaving like a mad, but due to my time constraint ,I am saying this.

Please tell me minimal no. of books name at the earliest.


1. Basic concepts : Meaning, Scope and Significance; Public and Private

Administration; Evolution of the Discipline; Comparative Public Administration;

Development Administration; New Public Administration; New Public

Management Perspective.

2. Principles of Organisation : Hierarchy, Unity of Command, Span of Control,

Authority and Responsibility, Coordination, Supervision, Centralisation and

Decentralisation, Delegation.

3. Theories of Organisation : Classical Theory, Scientific Management Theory,

Bureaucratic Theory, Human Relations Theory, Behavioural Approach, Systems


4. Administrative Behaviour : Leadership, Policy Formulation, Decision Making,

Communication, Motivation, Morale.

5. Accountability and Control : Concepts; Legislative, Executive and Judicial

Control over Administration; Citizen and Administration; Civil Society, People’s

Participation, Right to Information.

6. Comparative Administrative Systems : USA, UK, France: Features,

Recruitment, Training, Promotion.

7. Personnel Administration in India: Recruitment to all India and Central

Services, Training, Promotion; Union Public Service Commission.

8. Financial Administration: Budget – Concept, Formulation, Execution;

Accounts; Audit; Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

9. Central and State Administration in India: Features of Indian Constitution;

President, Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Central Secretariat, Cabinet

Secretariat, Prime Minister’s Office, Planning Commission, Finance Commission,

Election Commission; Governor, Chief Minister, State Secretariat, Directorate,

District Administration.

10. Local Government: Evolution; 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts.,

Rural and Urban Local Governments in Orissa – Structures, Functions, Finances,

Problems and Prospects.


Unit I : Basic Concepts :

Society, community, association, institution, culture, culture change, diffusion, Cultural

log, ethnocentrism, acculturation.

Social Groups-primary, secondary and reference groups.

Little Tradition and Great tradition,

Status and role, role conflict, role set, social control.

Norms and values-conformity and deviance,

Law and customs.

Socio-cultural processes :

socialization, assimilation, integration, cooperation, competition, conflict,

accommodation, universalization and parochialization.

Unit II : Marriage, Family and Kinship :

Marriage : types and forms, marriage as contract, and as a sacrament.

Family : types, functions and changes.

Kinships : terms and usages.

Unit III : Social Stratification :

Forms and functions; Caste, Class and gender, Jajmani system, purity and pollution,

dominant caste, sanskritisation.

Unit IV : Types of Society :

Tribal, agrarian, industrial and post-industrial, society.

Unit V : Economy and Society :

Economic systems of simple and complex societies, non-economic determinants of

economic behaviour, market (free) economy and controlled (planned) economy.

Unit VI : Industrial and Urban Society :

Rural-Urban Continuum and contrast, urban growth and urbanization, town, city and

metropolis; urban slums; impact of automation on society; industrialisation and


Unit VII : Social Demography :

Population size, growth, composition, and distribution in India; components of

population growth-births, deaths and migration; population policy.

Unit VIII : Political Processes :

Power, authority and legitimacy; political socialisation; political modernisation, pressure

groups; caste and politics, Religion and politics.

Unit IX : Weaker Sections-and Minorities :

Protective discrimination; Constitutional safeguards.

Unit X : Social Change :

Theories of change; factors of change; science, technology and change. Social

movements-Peasant Movement, Women’s Movement, Backward Caste Movement, Dalit




pallavi - June 1, 2016

Hello sir
Aapne jo sociology ki book batai h .wo pure syllabus ke liye kafi h

anil - September 13, 2016

Sir please suggest me which book I will refer for essay and. Compulsory English .

Srishti - July 26, 2017

Sir I am a science student i want start ias pepration give me righ way how to start study and selection best suvjecct

sreeni - August 16, 2018

preparation strategy for sociology optional preparation.

    Vimlaksh - August 21, 2018

    Hello Sreeni,

    I will soon post an article on this topic. Thanks for your suggestion.

Neeraj - September 10, 2018

Hi Vimlaksh,

Would you please help me to give some advice on Sociology reference books for UPSC and some notes which would help my nephew on the exam.


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