What are 'Social Sciences'

Social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that examine society and how people interact and develop as a culture. Social science as a field of study is separate from the natural sciences, which cover topics such as physics, biology, and chemistry.  Economics, political science, history, law, and geography are considered social sciences.

BREAKING DOWN 'Social Sciences'

Social science as an academic field of study developed out of the Age of Enlightenment (or the Age of Reason), which flourished through much of the 18th century in Europe. Adam Smith, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, Immanuel Kant, and David Hume were among some of the giant intellectuals at the time who laid the foundations for the study of social sciences in the Western World. Individuals began to take a more disciplined approach to quantifying their observations of society, and over time similar aspects of a society, such as linguistics and psychology, were separated into unique fields of study. 

Formal Education in Social Sciences

In the U.S., early education of social sciences begins in elementary school, and progresses throughout middle and high school with an emphasis on core social sciences such as economics, political science and history. At the collegiate level, more specialized disciplines are offered.

Examples of Social Sciences

For example, the following 15 departments comprise University of California, Berkeley's Social Sciences Division: African American Studies; Anthropology; Cognitive Science Program; Demography; Economics; Ethnic Studies; Gender and Women's Studies; Geography; History; International & Area Studies Program; Linguistics; Political Science; Political Economy; Psychology; and, Sociology. Master's degree and Ph.D. programs at colleges and universities offer further opportunity for deeper specialization.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Actuarial Science

    Actuarial science is a discipline that assesses financial risks ...
  2. Socially Responsible Investment ...

    Socially responsible investing looks for investments that are ...
  3. Social Networking

    Social networking is the use of internet-based social media programs ...
  4. Finance

    Finance is a term for matters regarding the management, creation, ...
  5. Social Audit

    A social audit refers to a formal review of a company's endeavors ...
  6. Social Identity

    Social identity is a company's image as derived from its relationships. ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    How to Find the Truth in Financial Services Studies

    How do you find the real science today given an environment where there’s so much sensationalism and spin trying to present a specific answer?
  2. Investing

    Why Exact Sciences Will Plunge Even Further

    Exact Sciences stock is dropping like a hot potato on news of an impressive rival colorectal cancer detection test.
  3. Investing

    Soaring Cash Makes Gilead Cheaper Than You Think (GILD)

    There are a lot of reasons investors may be considering owning shares in Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), including the fact that Gilead is the market share-leading maker of both HIV and hepatitis ...
  4. Investing

    Biotech Exact Sciences' 13% Plunge Could Get Steeper

    The steep stock decline of 13% for Exact Sciences could signal more problems to come.
  5. Investing

    Gilead Sciences Stock: A Dividend Analysis (GILD)

    Discover analysis of the dividend policy of Gilead Sciences, Inc., and learn about its historical earnings growth and the future of its dividend.
  6. Retirement

    The Potential Impact of 2017's Social Security Cap

    The Social Security cap increased to 7% in 2017, but even that may not be enough to keep Social Security from running out of funds.
  7. Investing

    Gilead Stock: Analyzing 5 Key Suppliers (GILD)

    Take a closer look at several key pharmaceutical companies providing Gilead Sciences with important inputs to its pharmaceutical business.
  8. Investing

    Druckenmiller-backed "LinkedIn for the 1%" Opens to the Public

    The network, called Relationship Science, aims to provide links between high profile individuals in the worlds of business, finance, and law.
  9. Retirement

    Are Social Security Benefits a Form of Socialism?

    Socialism is a loaded word in the U.S., but Social Security, one of the nation's most popular benefit programs, is wholly government-run.
Trading Center