Social science refers to the academic disciplines concerned with society and human behavior. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to anthropology, archaeology, criminology, economics, education, history, linguistics, communication studies, political science, international relations, sociology, human geography, and psychology, and includes elements of other fields as well, such as law, cultural studies, environmental studies, and social work.
The term may however be used in the specific context of referring to the original science of society established in 19th century sociology (Latin: socius, "companion"; -ology, "the study of", and Greek λόγος, lógos, "word", "knowledge"). Émile Durkheim, Karl Marx and Max Weber are typically cited as the principal architects of modern social science by this definition. Positivist social scientists use methods resembling those of the natural sciences as tools for understanding society, and so define science in its stricter modern sense. Interpretivist social scientists, by contrast, may use social critique or symbolic interpretation rather than constructing empirically falsifiable theories, and thus treat science in its broader sense. In modern academic practice, researchers are often eclectic, using multiple methodologies (for instance, by combining the quantitative and qualitative techniques). The term social research has also acquired a degree of autonomy as practitioners from various disciplines share in its aims and methods.
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Famous quotes containing the words science and/or social:
“The method of political science ... is the interpretation of life; its instrument is insight, a nice understanding of subtle, unformulated conditions.”
—Woodrow Wilson (18561924)
“There exists, at the bottom of all abasement and misfortune, a last extreme which rebels and joins battle with the forces of law and respectability in a desperate struggle, waged partly by cunning and partly by violence, at once sick and ferocious, in which it attacks the prevailing social order with the pin-pricks of vice and the hammer-blows of crime.”
—Victor Hugo (18021885)