Social Science: Meaning, Branches, Examples, Scope, Career

Social science becomes a part of our lives as soon as we enter the sixth standard in our school. We get introduced to social science through the divisions of subjects like History, Geography, and Civics. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, an introductory phase. In reality, the world of Social Science is vast and filled with unlimited resources and opportunities. Let’s dive into the details of this stream.

What is Social Science

In a broad sense, Social Science studies the interests of humankind. It examines various aspects of society. In the field of Social Science, all of the subjects interact with each other and constantly exchange ideas.  Social scientists aim to study the relationship between the individual and society, human behavior, social institutions, and organizations. Studying social science equips scholars with a more inclusive and practical knowledge of the world surrounding them.

Social Science Books

Difference between Social Science and Humanities

When you’re fresh out of school and looking for a degree to pursue, it can get confusing to hear the term “humanities” floating around. People assume that Social Science and humanities are the same. But these two disciples are not the same. Though they share a lot of similarities, their difference lies in the way these subjects are studied.

Social Science uses a scientific and evidence-based approach to study the facts of society. It is an objective study that tends to focus on the trends of society. If you choose to pursue a social science discipline, you will produce research based on empirical data and facts. Whereas, humanities is a discipline that bends toward a critical approach and studies the subjective properties of humans and societies. It is more philosophical in nature.

Branches of Social Science

Social Science subjects can be categorized under ten broad branches. However, it should be noted that every branch of Social Science has multiple specific sub-branches within them. These ten disciplines are:

  1. Anthropology
  2. Economics
  3. Political Science
  4. Psychology,
  5. Sociology
  6. History
  7. Law
  8. Linguistics
  9. Archeology
  10. Geography

Anthropology: The Study of People, Past and Present

Anthropology is the study of different aspects of the human condition. Its focal point is to study the cultural meanings of society and how over the years culture has formed human behavior. This branch of social science covers a broad range of theories ranging from the origin of humans and the evolution that took place and the changes that continue to happen.

Some of the subfields of Anthropology you might want to explore are:

  • Socio-Cultural Anthropology
  • Physical Anthropology
  • Archaeological Anthropology
  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Applied Anthropology

Economics: The study of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services

The field of Economics studies the conditions where the aim is to study the creation, production, distribution, and monetization of wealth. It is the study of choice and optimum utilization of resources. A student of Economics will learn about markets, trades, the global economy, and much more. Being trained in Economics allows one to implement their theatrical as well as mathematical skills in a very practical sense.

The two main branches of Economics are Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Within these two branches, there are multiple subfields that one can explore further based on their individual interests.

Political Science: The study of political systems and governments

Political science is an essential subject in the field of Social Science. Politics affects our everyday lives in more than one manner, thus studying it becomes very crucial. The subject matter concentrates on governance, politics, state, policies, and administration. It enriches the student with both historical and current knowledge of the polity.

Some of the subfields of Political Science you might be interested to explore further might be:

  • Political Philosophy
  • Political Economy
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations

Psychology: The study of human mind and behavior

Psychology can be called one of the most scientific branches of Social Science. It deals with the science associated with the human mind and human behavior. The students of this discipline study both social behavior and neurobiological processes. How does a human mind processes and internalizes things is the prime subject for Psychology students.

There are numerous sub-branches of Psychology that one can take up, a few of the most sought out being:

  • Child Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Industrial Psychology
  • Depression Counselling
  • Psychotherapy

Sociology: The study of human society, relationships, and social change

Sociology is the study of society, both at an individual and at a structural level. Focusing on everyday societal topics such as caste, class, religion, race, gender, etc. means that the students of Sociology attempt to study all the aspects that come under the umbrella category of “Social Science”. Being equipped in Sociology means that one has the theoretical backing which can then be put into use to support policymaking, activism, or social welfare.

Just as studying any society will lead you to multiple outcomes, there are more than enough options that you can take up from a selection of subsections that Sociology offers you, a few of them being:

History: The Study of Human History

History can be called the broadest subject of Social Science. Nothing can be more dense, vast, and complex than the study of History. The beauty and the shortcoming of this subject is that it does not limit itself. As a beginner of History, the subject can be overwhelming for your brain, but the longer you struggle with the subject the more expertise you gain. As you continue to study, you carve a niche or expertise for yourself.

There are many fields that the discipline of History opens for you, some of them are:

  • Social History
  • Political History
  • Art History
  • Food History
  • Women’s History

Law: Study of the legislation and judicial systems

Law is the discipline that accredits you to understand various facets of law and regulations. You get a chance to comprehend how the legal system, both national and global, operates. Out of all the other branches of Social Science, Law is the subject that grapples with how the country is governed, its provisions, section, and how the constitution ensures that the law is being maintained and respected.

Some of the law fields that you can explore according to your passion are:

  • Constitutional law
  • Civil law
  • Administrative law
  • Penal law
  • Procedural law

Also Read: Sociology of Law

Linguistics: The scientific study of language

Social Science studies all countenance of human society. One of the most integral parts of any society and human interaction is Language. Linguistics is the field of study which fixates on studying how a language is formed, its origins, and its evolution. Its aim is not to learn how to speak a language but rather to dissect it. A scholar of Linguistics can choose to analyze any language, be it native or global.

If you want to try your hands on dismembering language, these are some of the narrower fields you can scrutinize:

  • Phonology
  • Historical Linguistics
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Comparative Linguistics

Archeology: Human Geography

Archeology deals with the study of ancient human beings, where the prime focus remains to study the material culture of any society. The intent is to study things that were made by humans and were left behind, i.e., the remains of past human life. As an Archeology apprentice, you will comprehensively explore the primitive cultures and extinct societies. A lot of excavation work and surveying will be taken up in this discipline.

If you want to dig deeper in the arena of Archeology, you can dust upon over these sub-sections:

  • Zooarchaeology
  • Geoarchaeology
  • Historical Archeology
  • Underwater Archeology
  • Prehistoric Archeology
  • Forensic Archeology

Geography: The study of the phenomena of the Earth

It is a huge misconception that Geography is only about maps. In truth, Geography is much more than that. To study any society, one needs to know where that society is. Geography studies the lands, their features, and crucial phenomena that impact the earth. Along with this, it also studies the human population and the relationship between the study of land and the human population. Similar to Archeology, Geography is another branch of Social Science that relies mostly on studying physical and physiological features.

A more detailed study of Geography can entail the following subfields:

  • Geology
  • Environmental Science
  • Population Studies
  • Oceanology
  • Earth Sciences

Why Study Social Science? Scope and Advantages

The tremendous amounts of things happening around us at a single moment is numberless. Why things happen, how they happen, what triggered a situation, what will be its consequence, and many such related questions erupt in our minds daily. To answer all questions and more, we need Social Science. As discussed above, different branches of social science engage with different sects of society. Thus, to study Social Science means to study all that there is.

But if you are still not convinced, let us glance over some of the reasons why you should study Social Science, and what is its scope and advantages.

You become aware

Being equipped with a rich understanding of the past and the present alike makes you more aware. You develop a habit to look at things from multiple points of view while staying objective. Moreover, you can comprehend not only what’s happening locally, but globally as well. The various subjects of social science broaden your horizon and reach.

Makes you a better citizen

Continuing the first point, when you are aware, you know significantly more than an uninformed person. Having the right information makes you wiser and present in a situation. When you know about the inner workings of any institution, there are lesser chances of you being swept in the wrong direction. 

You do not study only one subject, but many

The beauty of the discipline of Social Science is that no matter which branch of the subject you choose to study, you will always follow an interdisciplinary approach. This means that your wealth of knowledge does not get restricted to one field. While you do attain expertise in the specific field you are studying, you collect ample knowledge about their subfields and counter fields to make sense of an argument as a whole.

You learn what you see; You see what you learn

Yes, a consequential proportion of Social Science does fixate on the study of the past. However, this does not mean that you remain stuck in the past. Being trained in social science means that you gain a critical lens to analyze and absorb what is happening in the current times. A great proportion of the curriculum is also dedicated to studying the current happening all around the world. Hence, you can learn about what you see in front of you, vice versa you can apply what you studied over the ground reality.

Heightened Reasoning Skills

When you understand better, you can think better. When you think better, you can judge better. When you judge better, you reason better. Social Science endows you with a gaze that is different from the generalized commonsensical point of view. As you continue to study, the more intellectual intelligence you gain. Consequently, your reasoning ability increases giving you an edge over the others.

Career Opportunities after studying Social Science

Being a student of any discipline or field is one thing. Leaving this cozy cocoon of learning is another challenge. Once you’re done with your education, the next sword on the head is “What Next?” A majority of the time, the next step is landing on a career. A degree in the field of social science is not a professional degree. So you cannot go out in the job market and say “Oh, I’ll be a social scientist”, that’s not how it works. Though this next big step can be scary and intimidating, many opportunities are waiting for you as a scholar of Social Science.

  • Human Resource Manager (HR)
  • Police Officer
  • Lawyer
  • Public Relations Manager (PR)
  • Political Consultant
  • Social Worker
  • Researcher
  • Teacher/ Professor/ Lecturer
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Urban Planner
  • Psychologist
  • Journalist
  • Writer

Also Read: Career and Jobs – Sociology

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Hello! Eiti is a budding sociologist whose passion lies in reading, researching, and writing. She thrives on coffee, to-do lists, deadlines, and organization. Eiti's primary interest areas encompass food, gender, and academia.