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What are the social sciences and why are they important?

Like the humanities, the social sciences focus on the social and cultural aspects of human behavior, looking at how people behave and interact with one another. However, while the humanities use a more subjective, qualitative approach, the social sciences use a more objective approach based on both quantitative and qualitative research and evidence. The five main branches of the social sciences are psychology, political science, sociology, anthropology, and economics. 

By studying the social sciences, individuals are able to better understand human behavior, how governments, organizations, and societies work, and figure out how to create a better future for everyone around us. These are five crucial skills that the social sciences help to develop:

  1. Using an Interdisciplinary Approach

  • All social science subjects require students to integrate perspectives from economics, political science, and sociology as well as perspectives from other disciplines such as English, math, and science. By doing this, students gain the ability to apply holistic perspectives when trying to comprehend complex issues and create solutions to them. For example, while evaluating an economic policy, students have to consider a number of different factors, from political structures to societal dynamics to economic and environmental factors.

  1. Problem-Solving 

  • Social science subjects require students to utilize analytical and critical-thinking skills to solve complex social issues. Students practice identifying the root causes of problems, analyzing the effects, and proposing viable solutions that can address all the key factors of the issue at hand. For example, a political science student, when proposing a hypothetical solution to a policy issue, must consider the issue from various lenses, including political, economic, cultural, and societal in order to create a truly comprehensive and effective solution.

  1. Financial Literacy

  • Whether it is economics, political science, sociology, or any other social science subject, students gain some sense of economic principles and their applications. This knowledge allows students to become more financially literate, which allows them to make more informed decisions about their finances in their personal lives. For example, a sociology student who is studying income inequality may have to explore the economic factors behind it, allowing them to enhance not only their understanding of societal structures, but also their own financial literacy at the same time.

  1. Real-World Understanding

  • The social sciences go beyond theoretical concepts. All social subjects emphasize the application of practical knowledge to real-world scenarios and issues. By looking at case studies and historical examples, students develop an understanding of how political, economic, cultural and societal structures impact their own lives and the world around them.

  1. Political Understanding

  • Most, if not all of the topics and issues in the social sciences involve politics in some way. Students must explore various political systems, institutions, and ideologies and gain a nuanced understanding of the complexities of public policy and government. This prepares students to engage actively and critically with current-day political issues and contribute to the democratic process. 

The social sciences play a crucial role in helping individuals understand human and societal dynamics, navigate diverse perspectives and situations, and create innovative and interdisciplinary solutions. This leads to both personal and professional success, as the skills developed by studying the social sciences are prioritized by employers in a wide array of fields. By exploring the realms of human behavior, government, and societal structures, students of the social sciences become more informed, analytical, and socially responsible and help pave the way to a more equitable and inclusive future.


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