Social sciences are a group of academic disciplines dedicated to examining society. This branch of science studies is about how people interact with each other, behave, develop as a culture, and influence the world.
Social sciences help to explain how society works, exploring everything from the triggers of economic growth and causes of unemployment to what makes people happy. This information is vital and can be used for many purposes. Among other things, it helps to shape corporate strategies and government policies.
Social science as a field of study is separate from the natural sciences, which cover topics such as physics, biology, and chemistry. Social science examines the relationships between individuals and societies, as well as the development and operation of societies, rather than studying the physical world. These academic disciplines rely more heavily on interpretation and qualitative research methodologies.
The social sciences include:
The origins of social sciences can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. The lives they led, and their early studies into human nature, the state, and mortality, helped to shape Western civilisation.
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 the big 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 quantify their observations of society, and over time, similar aspects of society, such as linguistics and psychology, were separated into unique fields of study.
The subject matter of the social sciences — human behaviour, relationships, attitudes, and how these things have changed over time — is of course useful information for any successful business to possess. Naturally, the social studies field of economics is key to the business sector. In particular, behavioural economists, who use psychology to analyse and predict the economic decision-making processes of individuals and institutions are increasingly sought after by some of the world's largest brands.
However, even the concepts of social sciences such as demography, political science, and sociology are frequently applied in many different business contexts. The fields of advertising and marketing, for example, often use theories of human behaviour from these fields to more efficiently market their products to consumers.
The social sciences are important because they help people understand how to not only analyse their own behaviour, but also the behaviour and motivations of their peers. The social sciences also give us a better understanding of how to create more inclusive, and effective institutions.
Obtaining a degree in the social sciences can help land you a job as an economist, psychologist, survey researcher, as well as opportunities in sectors such as law, government, and academia.