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SOCIOLOGY STRATEGY: By UPSC CSE-2018 Topper Chirumamilla Vinay Kumar – AIR 169 (Sociology Marks – 319)



By UPSC CSE-2018 Topper

Chirumamilla Vinay Kumar 

AIR 169 (Sociology Marks – 319)


Hello Friends!

Sociology helped me a lot in developing new thoughts, perspectives and added value to my essays as well.

In my first attempt when I was selected (AIR 464, CSE 2016) I had limited time to prepare and write answers. This directly reflected in my sociology scores and I ended up getting only 265 marks

Since then I tried many ways to turn things around and fortunately I could improve my sociology marks to 319 in CSE 2018 (Paper 1 =154 + Paper 2 =165).  

This article is an effort to pen down my approach towards sociology during this attempt. I have added few examples as well to explain it better.


5 things I did to Ace Sociology:

1. Clarifying the Sources:

When it comes to sources, there are quite a few for sociology – thanks to the simplicity of the subject.

Initially I did read (selectively) the following:

  • Haralambos (the Blue one – for few chapters like Family, Polity, Religion)
  • George Ritzer (for thinkers of Paper 1)
  • IGNOU (B.A. and M.A. selected topics to fill the content void) etc.
  • In addition to that you have your class notes (any coaching material) and test series discussions.

After reading all these, it is very difficult to say to what extent each of them helped me. It was very evident even during the preparation that I was reading the same topic from multiple sources, each explaining the same thing in different levels of complexity. At the end, it was very difficult to comprehend and put everything at one place so that I could revise.

However, I can say that with repeated reading my understanding of topics did improve.

For this attempt I referred Nitin Sangwan’s Essential Sociology and I found it very useful. This book came in handy for the last moment revision.

To conclude I relied on the following –


Source Comments
IGNOU B.A. and M.A. – very Selectively First see the Index of all the books and give a reading on selected topics – it takes time, but they give you good clarity on subject. 

MSO 004 Sociology in India is a very good book for Paper 2.

Essential Sociology by Nitin Sangwan Very good for Paper 1. It will cover both Haralambos and Ritzer as well for paper 1.
Any coaching notes If you don’t have one, then spend more time on IGNOU B.A to understand the subject.
Internet Very random. I used it whenever I needed any clarity on thinkers and their ideas.


However, if you are following any other sources and if you are comfortable with them, you could stick to it and focus on answer writing.


2. Familiarity with Sociological Thinkers

I wrote all the thinker names under each topic and read them very frequently. Overall, I remember almost 70 thinkers for each paper – which is quite easily doable, with repeated revisions.


3. Write ‘Sociological’ answers

Entering in to this attempt, this is the biggest take away for me from my mentors.

Your answers should look sociological and thoughtful. Please don’t write any casual answers for contemporary issues.


Example 1 – short note on MGNREGA 


  • group work, people from different communities share same field and work together.
  • financial empowerment of women leading to social empowerment and better articulation of issues,
  • indirect impact – lowers the incidence of child labour and school drop out of girl child, poverty alleviation, major beneficiaries are less privileged.
  • you can link it to environment as well – Tank rejuvenation under NERGA work – Mission Kaakateeya of Telangana aims to revive age old tanks and the tank irrigation will benefit mostly small and marginal farmers. 



Highlight the Nature of work involved –

  • Think on the lines of Community Development Programme CDP and you will get some ideas.
  • The level of skill involved in work is low
  • You can relate it to ‘Work and Social Life’ & as Marx said – “Work is the creative expression of man, he interacts with nature and creates the object in his mind!” In this sense, we can comment on the nature of work involved


Other Examples

  • Under Changing Forms of Marriage, ‘marriage – divorce – remarriage’ is one pattern visible in urban setting. However, you can use the term Serial Monogamy, to refer the same.
  • Similarly, for topics such as Modernity in India and Middle Class in India – you can always incorporate concepts such as Conspicuous Consumption, Value Conflict among Middle class etc.


4. Add a bit of uniqueness – incorporate current developments in your answers.

Few Examples:

  • There are many events around us which break the notion of patriarchy and signify women empowerment. Ex – Induction of women into armed forces
  • Law and social change – Recent Maternity Benefit Act and Provision of creche services.
  • Some social conflicts – Caste conflicts, Communal violence in news etc
  • Environment movements, social movements (LGBT, RTI, Anti-Corruption)


5. Prepare topic by topic – Start thinking:

  • When you are preparing, I would suggest you spend time on each topic and reflect on it.
  • Think if you came across any examples or relate the topic to contemporary issues.
  • Current topics like Triple Talaq easily fit under the syllabus – Marriage / Challenges of Women / Minorities.
  • When you read about gender issues – do look at contemporary aspects like LGBT.

At the end of the day – you need to read, revise, write and improve your answers.

I would like to thank my friends and family, mentors and well-wishers who have supported me throughout in this UPSC journey ?

I hope this article will be useful to you. I wish you all the success. You Rock!!

  • Thanks and Regards.