The Department of Sociology was established by the University of Delhi in 1959 as a constituent of the Delhi School of Economics under the leadership of eminent sociologist Professor M. N. Srinivas. In the 1960s the following four other members joined the Department to strengthen teaching and research: Prof. M. S. A. Rao, Prof. Andre Beteille, Prof. A.M. Shah and Prof. J.P.S. Uberoi. Subsequently, Professors B.S. Baviskar, Anand Chakravarti, E. A. Ramaswamy and Veena Das began teaching in the Department. The Department has also progressed under the headships of Professors. Aneeta A. Minocha, Virginius Xaxa, Tulsi Patel, Meenakshi Thapan, Rajni Palriwala, Nandini Sundar and Satish Deshpande.
Programmes and Centre of Advanced Study of the UGC
To begin with, the Department trained students for two courses: M.A. and Ph.D. In 1966, a two-year course for the M.Litt. degree was introduced. This has been replaced since 1976 by an M. Phil. degree course of a year's duration.
In 1968, the Department was recognized as a Centre of Advanced Study in Sociology by the University Grants Commission (UGC). To date this is the only Centre of Advanced Study in Sociology in the country recognized by the UGC. In 2018, we shall be completing 50 years of continuous CAS programme.
At present, the sanctioned strength of the faculty includes six Professors, eight Readers, seven Lecturers, and three Research Associates. In addition, there is a Documentation Officer, and eight members on the office staff.
The Department has a co-coordinated programme of teaching and research covering a variety of fields, including some developed for the first time in the country. Studies have been published or prepared on community power structures, local-level politics, trade unions, co-operatives, textual and contextual studies of Hinduism, religious symbolism, family and kinship, social and religious movements, and environment and society. Studies have also been conducted in the fields of stratification, gender, environment, the sociology of development, historical sociology, urban sociology, the sociology of collective violence and medical sociology. The sociology of masculinity, demography, popular and visual cultures, education, migration, the sociology of violence and documentary practices of the state are some of the new areas that faculty members are working on at present. Currently the following four thrust areas have been identified under the UGC CAS programme: (i) State and Society, (ii) Sociology of Marginality, (iii) Popular Culture, Media and Visuality, (iv) Environment, Livelihoods and Resources.
Faculty Research and Teaching
The Department has been visited by a large number of distinguished scholars from India and abroad, who have delivered lectures and given seminars, some of them as Visiting Professors and Fellows. The faculty of the Department has also been associated with many institutions in India and elsewhere as Visiting Professors and Fellows, and as participants in seminars and conferences. The Department draws students from different parts of India and from universities abroad for all its courses.
All members of the faculty are actively engaged in research in diverse areas like family and kinship, education, political movements, affirmative action, castes, religion, society and environment, urban life, agrarian structure, and so on. This has resulted in the publication of a long list of books, reports, and research papers in different fields of sociology. The Department has undertaken several research projects during the last five decades. Members of the Department have been actively associated with the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and the UGC in preparing surveys of research and teaching in the discipline.
From its very inception, the Department has encouraged a view of learning in which students are given an opportunity to participate actively in discussions. To supplement the classroom interaction between teacher and M.A. students through lectures, the Department has an active M.A. tutorial programme. In this system, each student is assigned a tutor who discusses particular topics and allocates reading and writing exercises in accordance with the needs of a student. Thus a student has a continuous feedback on his or her progress. Small groups of students meet their tutor every week for discussion and each student writes one long essay per course every semester. Since 1994-95 a system of continuous internal evaluation has been introduced, where the marks of one tutorial essay submitted in each course are counted towards the final examination. The Department follows the semester mode for both teaching and examination for several years now.