The main interest of the social sciences is the study of human social behaviour. More specifically, social sciences study subjectivity and its relation to structural aspects of society. This is divided into many specialisations that are responsible for analysing and describing the specificity of different social processes and their impact on individuals.
In the following article, we explain what social sciences are and the characteristics of their branches.
What are the 7 branches of social science?
The 6 major branches of social science are:
Social science studies the way in which human societies are organised and the behaviour of each of their members.
In general, their mission is to determine the objective, concrete and precise realities about different situations, facts and experiences of human life.
Many of them also focus on analysing the impact of experiences and contexts on the behaviour and development of social groups.
In order for you to understand more precisely what social sciences study, it is important for you to know the different branches and disciplines and the main focuses of each one.
The social sciences, as a whole, have many branches or fields of study. These in turn form smaller groups according to the object of study, leaving us with four subgroups:
- The sciences that study social interaction, such as anthropology, history and economics, to name but a few.
- Sciences that study the human cognitive system. Psychology and linguistics are in this group.
- Sciences that study the evolution of societies, such as archaeology, demography and human ecology, among others.
- Applied social sciences. In this group, we can name administration, pedagogy and international relations.
In this article we will show you what the disciplines of the social sciences are, and we will give you a brief overview of some of them, what they are and what they study.
Social interaction has several areas of manifestation. It occurs in person-person relationships, or in person-group relationships, as well as in group-group relationships. Social interaction determines the social influence that every individual receives.
The following are some of the branches of social science that study social interaction in all its forms.
7 branches of social science
The social sciences can be divided into different disciplines, which vary according to the intention of those who define and use them.
For example, according to the specific social science tradition, one of these disciplines can be considered a social science, human science, or even natural science.
Likewise, according to the needs of each context, there may be more or less disciplines within the social sciences. This is the case, for example, of the boundaries that exist between some sub-disciplines within medicine (such as social medicine), sociobiology, neuropsychology or philosophy itself.
The word anthropology is derived from the Greek “anthropos”, meaning “human”, and the word “logos”, meaning “knowledge”. Anthropology is dedicated to the study of the human being as a whole.
Anthropology is the science that studies the response of human beings to their environment, interpersonal relationships and the social and cultural framework in which they develop.
Its object of study is the human being in his multiple relationships, his culture as an element that differentiates him from other human beings, as well as his biological and socio-cultural aspects.
History is the science of studying, describing and representing the events of mankind’s past. This discipline studies and narrates past events chronologically.
Although it is considered a social science, it is also considered a bridge between the social sciences and the natural sciences, as it applies methodologies from the natural sciences to social studies.
History is divided into prehistory, which basically covers the period of time before the appearance of writing, and history for which there are written records.
History makes use of other disciplines to obtain, process and interpret data from the past. Sciences such as physiology, geography or anthropology are considered auxiliary sciences to history.
The word law has its origin in Latin “directum”, which means “that which conforms to the rule, the law, the norm”.
Law is the set of rules that regulate social coexistence, thus enabling interpersonal conflicts to be resolved. It is the normative and institutional order of human conduct in society, inspired by postulates of justice, whose bases are the existing social relations, which determine its content and character.
The discipline that studies, interprets, integrates and systematises a legal system for its fair application is known as the science of law. It is also known as legal science. Those who study law are not lawyers simply by studying for a law degree, but upon graduation, they will be “jurists”, i.e. knowledgeable in law and jurisprudence.
Economics is the discipline that studies the social relations associated with the processes of production, distribution, exchange and consumption of goods and services in order to satisfy human needs in society.
Contrary to what some people think, the main objective of this science is not to explain how to generate wealth and money.
In fact, economics is a discipline with a social focus, which was born to study the means of production of societies, the consumption of goods and services, and the dynamics of life as a consequence of purchasing power and the availability of economic resources.
Furthermore, multiple indicators and statistics, seeks to determine what the characteristics and conditions of life are like in a given place and what they might be like in the future.
Economic science focuses on understanding what are the means created to satisfy our needs as a society, and what is their impact at both the individual and societal levels.
Since economic activity is very diverse, economics is divided into different areas of study, such as labour economics or international economics, to name a few.
Sociology is a social science whose aim is the scientific analysis of the structure and functioning of human society. Its study focuses on social activity and the phenomena it produces, within the historical and cultural context in which they manifest themselves. This means that its objects of study are very diverse.
Sociology studies religion, the family, social classes, racial divisions, and the organisation of states, to name but a few.
Sociology seeks to understand social stability as well as processes of change and transformation at the group level, and at the individual level, it seeks to understand the impact of social phenomena on individuals.
Cognition is defined as the ability to learn through perception and the organs of the brain.
The social sciences that study the human cognitive system basically seek to understand how human beings communicate through an educational system adapted to the different societies that inhabit the planet, as well as the use that human beings make of the education received through these systems to relate to other individuals and to face their daily environment.
Psychology is the science that studies human behaviour, as well as the thought processes on which it is based. It seeks to develop generalised explanations of mental functions and individual behaviour.
Human behaviour has a wide variety of variants, which has forced psychology to specialise in different disciplines that study it under different aspects.
For example, educational psychology, which studies behaviour and mental processes in the field of learning. Another example is organisational psychology, which studies individual behaviour in the workplace.
The word linguistics originates from the Latin “lingua”, which means “language”.
Linguistics is the scientific study of the structure of natural languages and other related elements, such as their historical evolution, their internal structure, and speakers’ knowledge of their language.
Linguistics as a science focuses on the analysis of the nature and laws that govern language; it tries to explain how languages function at a specific point in time, which helps it to understand their general behaviour.
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So why is social science important?
Well, great! If you have read this far, you already know what social sciences are about and what their main branches of study are.
The initial idea of social sciences has evolved in recent times. Knowledge has diversified and interdisciplinarity has made its appearance.
And although the object of study is still the human being and society, as well as the way in which it is organised and the relationships that are established, the perspective is different and each discipline approaches this common object in a different way.
All these areas, and those that have emerged as some of them have split, have developed especially throughout the 20th century and have made an important contribution to the understanding of human and social behaviour.
What has been said so far allows us to conclude that, without these sciences, we would simply know much less about ourselves and the way we organise ourselves within societies.
Among other things, social sciences allow us to know what situations have led us to the current reality, what are the main characteristics and problems of this era and how certain elements impact the human mind.
Knowing about these and other aspects allow human beings to cope better with the present and to be better prepared for the future.
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New World Encyclopedia (2015). Social science.
The university of North Carolina (2018). What is sociology?
Vessuri, H. (2002). Ethical Challenges for the Social Sciences on the Threshold of the 21st Century. Current Sociology, 50: pp. 135 – 150.