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. Finance

    Finance describes the management, creation, and study of money, ...
  3. Political Economy

    Political economy is the study and use of how economic theory ...
  4. Social Good

    A social good is an act that benefits the largest number of people ...
  5. Socially Responsible Investment ...

    Socially responsible investing looks for investments that are ...
  6. Social Enterprise

    An organization that is directly involved in the sale of goods ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    When Socially Responsible Investing Hurts

    Socially responsible investing can make you feel good but it may not boost your returns.
  2. Personal Finance

    Social Finance Careers: Creating A Better World

    A financial career can be used to do more than just bring in profits. Find out how to get a career with a more social objective.
  3. Insights

    Economics Basics

    Learn economics principles such as the relationship of supply and demand, elasticity, utility, and more!
  4. Investing

    Computer Sciences Corp. Is Graduating to the S&P 500

    The ever-shifting lineup of stocks on the S&P 500 will soon undergo another change. S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which manages that index and many others, announced that the company currently known ...
  5. Insights

    The Uncertainty Of Economics: Exploring The Dismal Science

    Learning about the study of economics can help you understand why you face contradictions in the market.
  6. Investing

    Biotech's Exact Sciences Seen Plunging 25%

    With shares around $38.75, options traders are betting the stock falls by another 25% by Dec. 31.
  7. Retirement

    Will the Social Security Cap Increase Help It Last Longer?

    The Social Security cap increase will be 7% in 2017, but even that may not be enough to keep Social Security from running out of funds.
  8. 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.
  9. Personal Finance

    College Degrees of the 1%

    Find out which college majors give you the best odds of joining the wealthiest percentile of Americans.
Hot Definitions
  1. Net Present Value - NPV

    Net Present Value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows ...
  2. Price-Earnings Ratio - P/E Ratio

    The Price-to-Earnings Ratio or P/E ratio is a ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative ...
  3. Internal Rate of Return - IRR

    Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is a metric used in capital budgeting to estimate the profitability of potential investments.
  4. Limit Order

    An order placed with a brokerage to buy or sell a set number of shares at a specified price or better.
  5. Current Ratio

    The current ratio is a liquidity ratio that measures a company's ability to pay short-term and long-term obligations.
  6. Return on Investment (ROI)

    Return on Investment (ROI) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency ...
Trading Center