Rules for Sociology Answer Writing

General principles for answer writing in UPSC Mains

Answer writing can often be confusing. So here are a few general principles that can help you get those extra marks in sociology.

Structure of the answer

NOTE: These general principles can be followed for GS answers too. But for this post I’ll be sharing examples from sociology.

1. Introduction.

Intro should give a brief about the answer, not some generic statements. Be brief, but tell the examiner that you’ve understood what the question is about.

2. Thesis.

Main idea asked by the question. Or in case of critical analysis, the idea being criticised (in that case anti-thesis becomes the main part).

Explain parts in order. This is an extension of the thesis idea above.
For ex. in a question about structuration, the thesis part explains how it came up in response to problems of the positivist methods. Then explain structuration in the anti-thesis.
In theoretical questions mention methodology.
For ex. structuration uses a mix of both quantitative and qualitative methods of research thereby giving it a more balanced outlook. (Bryman triangulation can be mentioned)
In questions of methodology mention theory.
For ex. in studies of informal sector mention dependency theory to explain how globalisation informalizes.

3. Anti-thesis.

Always give counter arguments. Even if just one sentence. Because in sociology there are no absolute truths and as a student of sociology know that any argument is simply a perspective. Offering a different perspective adds value to your answer.

4. Synthesis.

Conclude with current examples from India. For example: you can use the recent riots in Wistron (Apple’s parts maker) factory in Bengaluru show that despite progress capital and labour still exist in a conflicting relationship as Marx had pointed out.

Some More Ideas

Mix ideas of both papers

For ex. in questions of religion explain how Durkheim, Weber, and Parsons point to a secularisation of values or value generalisation however, India society points counter to this (Modernisation - Yogendra Singh).

Structured comparisons

When comparing thinkers compare them on the basis of:

  • perspective,
  • methodology,
  • subject matter, and
  • focus of study.

This shows the examiner that you’ve not just mugged things up, but rather understood them deeply and that perception will fetch you those extra marks.

That’s all for now.

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