9 Social Science Disciplines
As societies began to become more organised, social sciences were born. These disciplines range from anthropology and history to psychology and economics.
Anthropology studies human cultures through the recovery, documentation and analysis of archaeological materials. Gender studies also comes under this discipline while Sociology looks into the structure of a society.
The study of language, from its development and evolution to how people communicate. It also studies the influence of culture on language.
Linguistics research often takes a synchronic approach, examining language at a specific point in time. However, some approaches like contact linguistics, creole studies and sociolinguistics take more of a qualitative analysis.
Linguists can work in a variety of professions, including education, journalism and corporate communications. They may also choose to become translators or work in the field of teaching languages.
The study of societal behavior is the domain of sociology. This includes studying social status or stratification (gender, race, class, and ethnicity), societal change, and societal disorder such as revolutions and crime.
It’s important to remember that sociology is more than a discipline. It’s a way of thinking and seeing the world that can benefit people in multiple ways, including career paths. For example, a major in sociology can find work in education, law enforcement, health sciences, and many other fields.
While most people think of anthropologists miles away from home in a village of thatched houses, the discipline also studies our own culture. Anthropologists use a comparative method to understand similarities and differences holistically.
Their theories are based on the belief that human behavior is shaped by and influences other social institutions. This goes for cultural anthropologists interested in cognition and volition, as well as archaeological anthropologists studying the evolution of humans’ heritable traits.
Many anthropologists work at museums and participate in local, national and international field research. Others work for government, private companies and nonprofit associations as researchers, science analysts and program directors.
The discipline of political science studies systems of governance and power through the scientific study of politics. It analyzes political activities, ideas, and behavior and related constitutions and laws.
The social sciences, like their natural counterparts, are continually challenged to demonstrate their relevance to society at large. They also are often scrutinized for their ability to meet the Popperian standard of proposing research questions and hypotheses that can be tested or falsified. Social scientists largely succeed in doing so.
The study of economics looks at the optimum allocation of scarce resources among alternative alternatives to satisfy unlimited human wants. That’s why it is one of the social sciences.
Heterodox critics of mainstream economic theory have argued that the discipline has developed a degree of ‘physics envy’, whereby building clever mathematical models is regarded as more prestigious than advancing understanding of real markets.
The knowledge gained from studying these fields enables business professionals to better understand and predict consumer behaviour. They use these insights to create more effective advertising campaigns.
Geography is a social science that studies the interactions of humans and their environment. Its two main branches are human geography and physical geography. Human geography focuses on how space is used, viewed and managed by humans while physical geography focuses on the study of the Earth and its atmosphere, landforms, vegetation and climate.
Both of these branches differ in their approach but they share one fundamental aspect: a spatial perspective. Any phenomenon that can be displayed on a map and studied from a spatial angle is considered geographical.
Social science studies how people interact with one another. It aims to understand everything from the triggers of economic growth to what makes people happy. Its findings are then used in political policies, education programs and urban design.
Traditionally, history has been considered part of the humanities alongside subjects like literature. However, it’s increasingly classified as a social science. Social scientists use a variety of methods to study society, including ethnographies and historical archives. Some adopt an approach similar to the natural sciences while others take a more interpretive view of social reality.
Psychologists study the human mind and its behavior. They explore everything from the triggers of economic growth to what makes people happy. Their work has informed education programs, urban design, public policies and more.
The choice of whether to identify psychology as human or natural science has profound implications. It reflects the ontological map of psychological phenomena: far from being reducible on the one hand to biophysical and on the other to cultural/”objective spirit”, they are positioned as mediators between these two planes of reality.