What is Social Science?

Social science is the scientific study of the economic, cultural, political, social, and psychological motivations behind why people do the things they do. These disciplines produce scientific knowledge because they are collected or recovered, given context, interpellated or crosschecked, interpreted, categorized, and tested in systematic ways rather than simply recorded as subjective observations. The social sciences are disciplines that collectively direct the scientific method toward issues of sociocultural importance.

The fields of social science are as follows:

  • Linguistics — The study of human language and communication.
  • Anthropology — The study of human beings and the cultures they create. This may be in the form of their material goods (archaeology), their skeletal remains (biological), their lived cultures and ethnicities (cultural), and their spoken and written languages (linguistic).
  • Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Law — Criminology is the study of criminals and criminal actions, owing much of its theoretical basis to forensic research in the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Criminal justice and law are closely related disciplines dealing with the particulars of the law enforcement and court systems and the details of the legal system, including types of crime and the laws that define them.
  • Economics — The study of how people can fulfill their basic needs, especially monetarily. By looking at the social elements of consumption, production, and distribution, the field looks to predict trends and guide people in their economic and fiscal decisions.
  • Geography and Human Geography — These disciplines study the physical aspects of the natural world, the environment, and climate, as well as their relationships with economics and cultures. Human geography, in particular, tends to record group movements and interaction patterns through mapping, situating them in their environmental context.
  • Political Science — The study of the social and governmental organizations that maintain order and promote a peaceful existence within diverse societies. It focuses heavily on theories and systems of government and how they gain and keep societal control, especially through law, politics, and bureaucracy.
  • Psychology — The study of the mind, behavior, and personality. This is primarily done experimentally and therapeutically through research on the structure and function of the human brain, paths of emotional and intellectual development, and issues of behavior, memory, and sensation.
  • Sociology — The oldest of the social sciences, sociology is the study of human relationships and how people interact. Research in the field often centers on social pressures, organization, conflict, and cohesion.

The social sciences can help people to better understand themselves, others, and society as a whole. The knowledge these fields collect and curate can help people to live more harmoniously, reduce social conflict and, with a bit of empathy, appreciate and participate in various cultures without treating each other as ''other''.

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Social Science Resources

Study.com offers thousands of resources for students and teachers interested in social science. These include college-level courses, study guides, lesson plans, project resources, and homeschool materials for those who want to learn. The social sciences are a varied collection of academic disciplines, and these learning aids are the perfect place for anyone to begin their research into human social life.

Social Science Courses

The broad range of subjects covered by the social science disciplines means that there is no shortage of courses available in the field. From anthropology to sociology, political science to criminology, there are thousands of classes for students interested in the social sciences. Students studying culture and society can earn credits or increase their knowledge in social studies classes with the primary to secondary school level courses and quizzes that monitor progress.

Sociology 101: Intro to Sociology

This college-level course is an introduction to the original social science, sociology. This inclusive overview of the discipline focuses on basics and theoretical perspectives before moving on to the history of the discipline, how research is conducted, and major topics of social research.

Geography 101: Human & Cultural Geography

This college-level course is an introduction to the discipline of human geography, also called cultural geography. It examines how human populations moved across the world, along with the dispersal of their cultures, languages, technologies, religions, and their effect on the environment.

Political Science 101: Intro to Political Science

Students looking to engage with college-level content on the social science of politics and government may want to start with this course. One hundred thirty individual lessons lead students to study political philosophies, government and bureaucracy, policies, interest groups, and global issues.

Criminal Justice 101: Intro to Criminal Justice

Students thinking of going into law enforcement or the legal profession will need to take a college-level course on criminal justice. This course covers topics from criminology and theories of crime to the court system and types of law, along with sentencing and corrections.

Geography: High School

High school students interested in geography outside the classroom will find this course to be a valuable resource. The five themes of geography are discussed, along with the relationship between economics, culture, and the physical structures of Earth and the detailed geographies of each continent.

For teachers and parents

Social Science Lesson Plans for Teachers

The many and varied social sciences subjects make them important for any schooling curriculum, but especially for social studies classes. Whether a teacher is looking to incorporate the study of politics, culture, or geography into their class, there are plenty of resources to help supplement existing history, geography, or social studies coursework. Quizzes, lesson plans, and other classroom aids geared toward the social sciences will help keep students engaged in the course no matter the topic.

Lesson plans
  • World Cultures Lesson Plans & Resources

    There are many reasons a teacher may want to include a study of world cultures in their classes. These lesson plans and resources help bring discussions of various holidays, religious traditions, and national cultures into any history or social studies class.

  • Geography Lesson Plans & Resources

    Knowing how humans and the physical structure of earth interact is essential in making students citizens of the world. These resources will help them by covering the five themes of the discipline, along with the geography of the continents and oceans.

  • Teaching Geography of the Americas

    For those instructors who wish to have more focused lessons in their geography class, this collection of plans can help. These lessons focus on the Americas, including the various cultures and ethnic groups, with special detail given to the United States.

  • Social Sciences Lesson Plans & Resources

    Teachers venturing into the social sciences will find resources here that will be useful in building the foundation of any social studies class. Disciplines discussed at length here include anthropology, criminology, psychology, and sociology.

  • U.S. Politics & Civics Lesson Plans

    Political science is a social science relevant to classes engaged in civics and government, history, and social studies. Topics covered in these lesson plans include the U.S. government, the electoral system, and the interaction of media and politics.

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Social Science Homeschool Curriculum

For parent-teachers that want to broaden their homeschooling curriculum, Study.com offers full courses to help bring the social sciences into the classroom. These curricula include everything necessary to teach geography, and the basics of political science and are crafted for students at the high school level. High School US Government: Homeschool Curriculum includes over 130 lessons on topics ranging from the ideals of government and overviews of the three branches of governments to influential Presidents and landmark Supreme Court cases. High School Geography: Homeschool Curriculum reviews the basics of the field before focusing on the relationship between the Earth, culture, climate, and economics and going into detail on the geographies of various regions.

Homeschool solutions
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Social Science Topics

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the main focus of social science?

    The main focus of social science is humanity and the ways people interact in societies. This may mean studying the mind, cultures, social norms, economic circumstances, and political systems in a scientific way, either together or separately.

  • What are social science examples?

    The social sciences are those that study human motives and relationships. Examples of these disciplines include sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, and economics.