What are the Social Sciences? – Evolution, Classification, and More
The social science in which we move, social groups, family, and people are governed by established behavior patterns and subject to many factors. Knowledge of these guidelines, which are generally marked by sociological and psychological issues, and these factors, governed by demographic, economic, ethnological, pedagogical, and environmental issues, is essential for proper human development in all areas.
Science is considered an organized system of knowledge and the methods required to obtain said knowledge. Those that focus on man’s activity as part of a group are social within the sciences. The object of these sciences remains to tell the causes and consequences of human behaviour from both an individual and a social perspective.
Social Sciences and Natural Sciences
The main difference between the social sciences and the natural sciences lies in their object: the former study the interaction between individuals and communities. At the same time, the latter is dedicate to studying the physical components and the functioning of living beings and their environment.
Another critical difference is that the subject and the object of study are separate from the natural sciences. The thing of research and the subject performing it coincides in the social sciences. This difference questions the scientific nature of the social sciences since it is difficult for human beings to achieve objective knowledge of the social reality that they generate.
These differences have given the rise in modern science to the division between scientific culture and humanistic culture.
Evolution of the Social Sciences
The social sciences are relatively recent in the scientific field. They originated at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, due to the capital importance that Enlightenment thought gave to the use of reason as a weapon of knowledge. Some of its disciplines’ founders are French thinkers like Montesquieu and Comte, German thinkers like Marx, and English thinkers like Adam Smith and Ricardo.
Social scientific literature began to increase in Europe in the 19th century, with the first social science journals, faculties, and research centers. The social sciences advanced as the old world, swept away by the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, retreated. Sciences such as economics, sociology, anthropology, and psychology had the moment of their consolidation as autonomous disciplines in that century.
Classification of Social Science
There are various ways of classifying the disciplines that make up the social sciences. It must be taken into account that each of the sciences does not study isolated and independent realities but rather has strong interrelationships. Some of the disciplines act as a bridge between the different areas.
An example of classification may be choosing the field of reference of the different sciences as a criterion.
- Sciences related to a social organization: are those that influence the social environment. This section includes social sciences such as politics, sociology, law, anthropology, and geography.
- Sciences related to the economic organization also influence the social organization from the economic point of view. Here is the economy.
- Behavioral sciences: they study the individual’s behavior, in particular, psychology.
Major Social Sciences
Political science studies the nature and form of governments. In this field, the philosophers Plato and Aristotle stood out. However, the first reflections on politics in the West were made in Greece at the end of the 5th century BC.
This discipline tries to establish the general laws that explain the social interaction of human beings. It is responsible for analyzing collective realities and discovering the rules of group behaviour. It can be said that sociology has develope due to empty spaces not occupied by other sciences. The French Comte was one of its founding fathers.
Law can be defined7 as the science that studies the set of laws and rules that govern the activity of people in their social life, as well as their foundation and application. The basis of law in the West is Roman law.
Anthropology focuses on studying the human being as one of the animal species, contemplating its social and biological dimensions.
It is a science that describes the globe and analyzes people’s work on the Earth itself. On the other hand, geography usually works with data from nearby disciplines.
This discipline analyzes how human beings and society use existing resources to obtain the necessary goods and distribute them for consumption among the different community members. In a society like ours, the economy is of paramount importance based on the market.
Psychology deals with the motivations, processes, and behaviors of the person. Within psychology, Sigmund Freud, creator of psychoanalysis, stands out. She has been bound by philosophy for a long time and has found it challenging to disassociate herself from it.
History is most likely the oldest social discipline. It was born with the Greeks, highlighting in its origins Herodotus and Thucydides (V century BC). This science aims to reconstruct and understand the main social facts through time.
These are the primary data, but you can still delve deeper into classifying the disciplines that encompass the social sciences.
The Method of the Social Sciences
The research method of the social sciences is the same as that of the natural sciences, but with some differences:
In social disciplines, it is not always possible to carry out experiments. Some phenomena cannot be repeat to observe them, although some social sciences such as psychology have tried to apply experimentation as a study method.
As a consequence of the above, verifying the hypothesis is difficult. Moreover, it isn’t easy to establish a mathematization of the laws in many of these sciences, except in cases such as economics.
The Story Method
History is characterize because its object of study is past events and, therefore, unrepeatable. Thus, the experimental method cannot be applie in this discipline.
The usefulness of the Social Sciences
The constant transformation of the current world and the individual’s adaptation have imposed new challenges and tasks on the social sciences. For this reason, cooperation between the different disciplines aims to promote the economic and social development of groups and individuals, collaborating to eliminate misery, exploitation, ignorance, and stagnation of the most disadvantaged individuals.
Social science is the branch of science keen to study societies and the relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly refer to as sociology, the original “science of society,” established in the 19th century.