What are the Social Sciences?

The social sciences include subjects such as psychology, sociology, communications, and more.
The social sciences include subjects such as psychology, sociology, communications, and more.

Modern science is broadly divided into three main branches, namely formal science, social science, and natural science. Each of the three branches consists of various specialized but overlapping academic disciplines or fields. Social and natural sciences are both empirical sciences since they are based on empirical observation and their validity can be tested by researchers working under the same condition. Formal science involves the careful and systematic study of formal systems or areas of knowledge and relies exclusively on deductive reasoning.

Social Science

Social science can be defined as the branch of modern science that is concerned with the society and the interactions among the people in society. Like the other two branches, social science consists of various specialized disciplines including, but not limited to sociology, political science, psychology, linguistics, communication studies, archaeology, economics, musicology, anthropology, history, public health, and human geography. Social scientists study individuals and societies by adopting various philosophical theories. For instance, positivist social scientists use methods and tools similar to those of natural science in understanding society while interpretivist social scientists employ systematic interpretation or social critique instead of constructing empirically falsifiable theories.

Origin and History of Social Science

The origin of social science can be traced back to the Age of Enlightenment after 1650, during which an individual’s understanding of what was “scientific” was changed by the revolution within the natural philosophy. Social science originated from ethic or moral philosophy and was mainly influenced by the Age of Revolution such as French and Industrial Revolutions. It developed from applied and experimental sciences related to the social improvement of a community. The beginning and growth of social science are reflected in specialized encyclopedias such as the 18th-century grand encyclopedia of Diderot. Five paths of development soon sprang forth from this branch of science, namely social research, the study of social facts, identification of social phenomena, development of economic knowledge as a hard science, and correlation of knowledge.

Branches of Social Science

The branches of social science are taught and widely researched in universities and colleges around the world. Below are some of the social science disciplines;


Also known as the science of man, anthropology is the branch of social science that is concerned with the totality of human existence. This discipline integrates the various aspects of humanity, social science, and human biology to provide a holistic account of humans and human nature.


Economics is a social science discipline that is concerned with the analysis and description of production wealth as well as its distribution and consumption. It is divided into two broad categories; microeconomic (analysis at an individual level) and macroeconomics (economy as a whole).


History involves systematic research and analysis of past human events. These past events can be interpreted through theories or historiographical paradigms.


Education is the process through which a teacher imparts specific knowledge and skills to learners or students. The process can either be formal or informal and often begins at birth and continues throughout an individual’s life.

Political Science

This branch of social science is concerned with the study of the theory and practice of politics as well as the analysis and description of political systems. It is further subdivided into several fields including political theory, national systems, international relations, political developments, foreign policy, and international laws.


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