25 Social Sciences Examples

social sciences examples and definition, explained below

The social sciences are academic disciplines concerned with the study of human society and social relationships (Stone, 2018).

Social sciences disciplines span sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, geography, and economics, among others.

Throughout history, the social sciences have given us significant understandings of various aspects of human existence, stretching from individual behavior to societal structures (Architecture et al., 2012).

The products of social sciences research provide an extensive understanding of societal dynamics. Here is where the relevance of social sciences grows evident.

For instance, the insights derived from the social sciences disciplines can help policymakers to make well-calibrated policy decisions (King & Pardo-Cuellar, 2016).

Social Sciences Examples

1. Sociology

Sociology is the systematic study of societies, social interactions, and patterns of social behavior.

It attempts to understand how personal human interaction impacts and is affected by collective group behaviors, societal institutions, and broad social trends (Berger & Weisner, 2014).

Topics in sociology can range from family structures to global poverty, reflecting a wide scope.

By analyzing both the micro- and macro-level components of societies, sociology provides a multifaceted lens into the complex societies in which we live (Davis & Halpern, 2012).

Potential Career Paths
1. Social worker
2. Policy Analyst
3. Market Research Analyst
4. Public Relations Specialist
5. College Professor

2. Anthropology

Anthropology focuses on understanding humans and their cultures across time and space (Henrich & Gil-White, 2001).

Anthropology tries to understand humanity throughout the ages by investigating human life from various perspectives: biological, historical, cultural, and archaeological (Reyes-García et al., 2016).

Potential Career Paths
1. Cultural Resource Manager
2. Market Researcher
3. User Experience Researcher
4. Human Rights Advocate
5. Museum Curator

3. Psychology

Psychology centers on understanding the complexities of mind and behavior (Owen et al., 2016).

The field aims to investigate everything related to human experience: mental processes, emotions, behaviors, cognition, etc. – both normal and ‘abnormal’ (Cabrera et al., 2018).

Psychology is a multifaceted discipline that encompasses various sub-disciplines like clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and more.

Potential Career Paths
1. Clinical Psychologist
2. Counselor
3. Human Resources Personality Assessor
4. Forensic Psychologist
5. Neuropsychologist

4. Political Science

Political science involves detailed examination of political systems, theories of government organization, and the conduct of public policy (Reitsma et al., 2016).

It investigates the roles of individuals and groups within political systems, exploring how they operate in various context. Political scientists also explore issues like political power dynamics, international relations, geopolitics, and political-legal frameworks (Kellner & Hepp, 2019).

Overall, political science seeks to decipher how political systems and their subsequent policies impact everyday life on both micro and macro levels.

Potential Career Paths
1. Political Consultant
2. Public Policy Analyst
3. Diplomat
4. Politician
5. Journalist

5. Economics

Economics is a social science that examines how people, organizations, and societies produce, distribute, and consume resources (Mankiw, 2014).

It spans over two main streams – macroeconomics, which analyzes entire economies and their various segments; and microeconomics, which seeks to understand individual decisions within an economic framework (Gruber et al., 2016).

The discipline applies scientific methodologies to study economic phenomena, yielding objective insights into complex economic systems.

Perhaps its most important aim is to inform fiscal policies that enhance society’s overall well-being. To this end, economics offers tools and frameworks that individuals, companies, and governments can use to sustain a healthy and productive economy.

Potential Career Paths
1. Economist
2. Financial Analyst
3. Management Consultant
4. Market Research Analyst
5. Policy Analyst

6. Human Geography

Human Geography focuses on the study of people’s relationships with their environments (Hubbard et al., 2010).

The discipline seeks to understand spatial aspects of human existence – how cultures and societies adapt to their environments and transform them.

It may explore concepts such as the dynamics of population migration, urbanization, regional development, and global integration (Trudeau & McMorran, 2011).

By bridging the natural world with human society, human geography offers unique insights into sustainable practices for societal development.

Potential Career Paths
1. Urban Planner
2. Environmental Consultant
3. Geospatial Analyst
4. Transportation Management
5. Economic Developer

7. Archaeology

Archaeology is a subdiscipline of anthropology concerned with the systematic recovery and scientific investigation of material remains of past human life and culture (Scarre & Scarre, 2016).

The branch explores human history starting from prehistoric times up to contemporary periods through excavation and analysis of artifacts like tools, pottery, architecture – all evidence of past human civilizations (Wynn & Coolidge, 2011).

Archaeology can offer a comprehensive picture of important historical developments in human cultures.

Potential Career Paths
1. Archaeologist
2. Historic Preservation Officer
3. Museum Curator or Archivist
4. Cultural Resource Manager
5. Post-secondary Teacher   

8. Social Work

Social work is a branch of the social sciences dedicated to promoting the well-being of individuals, families, groups, and societies (Johnson et al., 2014).

It often involves addressing social issues like poverty, discrimination, and abuse through therapeutic interventions or policy advocacy (Dominelli & Campling, 2012).

Social workers often focus on engaging with diverse and marginalized individuals in distress, helping to provide them with suitable interventions or support in order to empower them and help them achieve upward mobility.

By directly aiding vulnerable individuals or groups in society and influencing social policies for their benefits, social work plays an instrumental role in fostering equity in societies.

Potential Career Paths
1. School Social Worker
2. Clinical Social Worker
3. Child Welfare Social Worker
4. Mental Health Therapist
5. Substance Abuse Counselor

9. Criminology

Criminology is a branch of sociology that studies the nature, causes, control, and prevention of criminal behavior both in the individual and in society (Siegel & Welsh, 2015).

It emphasizes the social and psychological impacts of crimes, including the effects of crime on its victims, and causes of criminal behavior.

Criminology uses scientific methodologies to observe criminal behavior and how it influences societal patterns (Durrant & Ward, 2012). It also plays a crucial role in informing crime legislation and correctional practices.

Potential Career Paths
1. Criminologist
2. Forensic Psychologist
3. Corrections Officer
4. Police Officer
5. Probation Officer

10. International Relations

International relations (IR) is a field emphasizing the relationships between countries, the roles of sovereign nations, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and multi-national corporations (Mingst & Arreguin-Toft, 2013).

It explores the complexities of international politics, international law, and international economics, to understand global problems such as human rights concerns, international conflict, financial crises, trade disputes, etc.

International relations also has an important role in interpreting processes of globalization and their implications for international power dynamics (Sayers & Tomlinson, 2018).

Fusing historical understanding with geopolitical analysis, IR aids decision-makers in formulating informed international policies.

Potential Career Paths
1. Diplomat
2. International Consultant
3. Political Analyst
4. Non-profit/NGO Organizer
5. Intelligence Specialist 

11. Education Studies

Education studies investigate processes of teaching and learning within various settings like schools, universities or informal education institutions (Petrina et al., 2014).

Research in this discipline spans domains such as pedagogical theories, instructional design, curriculum development, educational psychology, and learning assessment techniques (Cobanoglu et al., 2018).

Education studies aim to refine educational practices by integrating scientific evidence into teaching methodologies to improve student’s learning experiences and outcomes. In essence, its focus is fostering effective educational environments that uphold equal opportunities for all learners.

Potential Career Paths
1. Teacher or Professor
2. Instructional Designer
3. Education Policy Analyst
4. School Principal or Administrator
5. Special Education Specialist 

12. Communication Studies

Communication studies deal with the processes of human communication and its effective use across various contexts – from interpersonal communication to mass media outlets (Miller et al., 2014).

The discipline explores various facets of communication – verbal/non-verbal communication, group dynamics in communication processes or influences of culture/media on communication (Carey & Hannan 2014).

Critical research in this domain assists in developing strategies for effective communications that enhance decisions making processes or conflict resolution techniques across fields like business or politics.

Potential Career Paths
1. Public Relations Specialist
2. Corporate Communications Manager
3. Media Analyst
4. Political Campaign Coordinator 
5. Health Communication Specialist

13. Linguistics

Linguistics is the study of language, exploring its structure, sound systems, meaning, and the social and cultural contexts in which it exists (Chomsky, 2012).

It explores aspects of language such as phonetics and phonology (sound systems), morphology (words), syntax (sentence formation), semantics and pragmatics (meaning). Through this work, it attempts to understand patterns of speech and text in various languages.

Linguistics also involves sociolinguistics – the relationships between language and society, and psycholinguistics – the processes happening in brain during communication (Friederici, 2012).

By providing fundamental insights into the human capacity for language acquisition and use, linguistics allows for effective study of and improvement in communication both within and across cultural boundaries.

Potential Career Paths
1. Linguist
2. Language Educator
3. Speech-Language Pathologist
4. Interpreter or Translator
5. Computational Linguist

14. Gender Studies

Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines how sex and gender influence our lives (Butler, 2011).

It explores gender identities, roles, biases, interactions, and gendered institutions from sociological, feminist, marxist, psychological, historical, economic, and literary vantage points.

Gender Studies seeks to understand how our social structures are influenced by gender constructs and how these constructs impact individual attitudes and experiences (Lorber & Farrell, 2010).

This discipline fosters equality by exposing biases in societal norms related to gender that often go unnoticed or unchallenged.

Potential Career Paths
1. Human Rights Advocate
2. Gender Equality Officer
3. Social Worker
4. Journalist
5. Public Policy Analyst

15. Cultural Studies

Cultural studies focuses on understanding and interpreting the ways in which individuals make sense of societal norms, beliefs, artifacts, and institutions and how they form their identities accordingly (Hall et al., 2013).

It analyzes multiple aspects shaping social life – such as media, technology, and ideologies, using theoretical perspectives from sociology, anthropology, and literary theory.

Cultural studies serves as a critical tool for interrogating socio-cultural phenomena – including social inequalities or cultural transformations – thereby fostering a comprehensive understanding of contemporary culture (Grossberg et al., 2017).

Potential Career Paths
1. Communication Strategist
2. Diversity Coordinator
3. Arts Administrator
4. Media Analyst
5. University Professor

16. Ethnology

Ethnology is a branch under anthropology concerned with comparative studies of different cultures (Franz & Boas, 2018).

It involves analyzing cultural phenomena based on field study data gathered from living cultures or historical records, with a focus on uncovering intersocietal similarities or differences.

Ethnologists study topics like religion, economic practices or political structures across various cultures in order to offer cross-cultural insights into the human experience (Erikson & Murphy 2017).

As such, ethnology plays a pivotal role in fostering cross-cultural understanding in an increasingly globalized world.

Potential Career Paths
1. Cultural Resource Manager
2. Market Researcher
3. User Experience Researcher
4. Human Rights Advocate
5. Museum Curator

17. Social Psychology

Social Psychology is a discipline that investigates how individuals’ thoughts, feelings, behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others (Fiske, 2014).

It explores how social influences shape individual’s attitudes, beliefs, decision-making processes, and behaviors.

Central themes include social perception, social influence, interpersonal attraction, and group behavior.

Furthermore, it seeks to understand the impact of social disparities on an individual’s mental health and behavior (Card, 2020). 

Overall, social psychology provides practical solutions for improving social relationships and managing conflicts within societal settings.

Potential Career Paths
1. Social Psychologist
2. Human Resources Manager
3. Behavioral Analyst
4. Crisis Intervention Counselor
5. Market Research Analyst 

18. Public Health Studies

Public Health focuses on protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention (Marmot, 2020).

It analyses the impact of genetic, environmental and social factors on human health and aims to prevent health issues from occurring or re-occurring through implementing educational programs and advocating policies (Novignon & Nonvignon, 2020).

Public health also plays a crucial role in disease surveillance and response during health emergencies. A core objective is to reduce health disparities among different segments of the population.

Potential Career Paths
1. Public Health Officer
2. Disease Investigator
3. Environmental Health Specialist
4. Health Educator
5. Biostatistician 

19. Urban Studies

Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary field centered around cities and urban areas, their formation, function, and their impact on society and nature (Knox & Pinch, 2014).

It explores issues of city planning, urbanization, and urban sustainability from a socio-economic, environmental and political perspective (Glaeser, 2011).

Urban Studies seeks to understand how urban environments shape and are shaped by various factors, including social, economic, and cultural practices, thus making city living more sustainable, equitable, and vibrant. 

Potential Career Paths
1. Urban Planner
2. Urban Policy Analyst
3. Transportation Planner
4. Urban Sociologist
5. Community Development Coordinator 

20. Demography

Demography studies statistical patterns of human populations including size, composition, density and distribution (Poston & Bouvier, 2017).

It explores phenomena such as fertility, mortality, migration and how these dynamics affect the size and structure of a population over time (Riley, 2011).

Demography provides insights into societal problems like overpopulation, aging, and social mobility, influencing social policies related to health, education, and economic development.

In essence, demography plays a pivotal role in planning and policymaking processes.

Potential Career Paths
1. Demographer
2. Population Analyst
3. Market Research Analyst
4. Public Policy Analyst
5. Health Demographer

21. Human Rights Studies

Human Rights Studies is an interdisciplinary field examining the historical, philosophical, legal, and social underpinnings of human rights movements and concepts (Morsink, 2017).

It focuses on understanding, analyzing, and addressing human rights issues globally, ranging from civil liberties to economic and social rights.

Human Rights Studies also explore the mechanisms in place to protect human rights and the reasons these rights are violated in various societal contexts (Donnelly, 2013).

Moreover, it emphasizes the application of human rights principles to address societal inequities, shaping policy and advocacy efforts to promote human rights in diverse settings.

Potential Career Paths
1. Human Rights Lawyer
2. Policy Advisor
3. International Development Worker
4. Human Rights Educator
5. Activist and Non-Profit Organizer 

22. Development Studies

Development Studies is an interdisciplinary branch zooming into the economic, social, and political dynamics shaping the developing world (Hettne, 2016).

It focuses on issues including poverty reduction, gender equity, sustainable development, and governance.

Development studies investigates the strategies, policies, and practices involved in national and international development efforts (Sumner & Tribe, 2014).

By integrating theory and practice, this discipline aims to promote social justice and economic advancement in less developed regions.

Potential Career Paths
1. Development Worker
2. Policy Analyst
3. International Consultant
4. Foreign Service Officer
5. Sustainable Development Advisor 

23. Environmental Sociology

Environmental Sociology studies the reciprocal relationship between societies and their natural environments (Dunlap & Brulle, 2015).

It assesses the environmental implication of societal practices and the effect of environmental changes on societies.

Central themes include how social structures and activities contribute to or can help mitigate environmental problems, and how these environmental changes affect societal dynamics (Bell, 2018).

Ultimately, environmental sociology informs policy that needs to reconcile the tensions between sustaining ecological systems and fulfilling societal needs.

Potential Career Paths
1. Environmental Consultant
2. Conservation Strategist
3. Urban Planner
4. Policy Developer
5. Environmental Advocate 

24. Peace and Conflict Studies

Peace and Conflict Studies delves into the causes of conflict and the processes through which peace can be achieved (Galtung & Fischer, 2013).

It probes into dynamics of peace, conflict, violence, and resolution using interdisciplinary approaches.

The exploration of social conflicts, intergroup relations, and peace strategies provides valuable insights to conflict-resolution strategies and peacebuilding efforts (Lederach, 2015).

With an aim to promote harmony, this discipline offers pathways toward conflict resolution and peaceful social structures.

Potential Career Paths
1. Diplomat
2. Mediator/ Conflict Resolution Specialist
3. Humanitarian Worker
4. Non-profit Organization Director
5. International Relations Consultant 

25. Behavioral Economics

Behavioral Economics integrates psychological and sociological insights into economic analysis to better predict human decision-making behaviors (Dhami, 2016).

It examines how cognitive biases, emotions, and social factors can deviate individuals away from the rational choices predicted by traditional economics.

Behavioral economics provides critical insights into understanding and predicting human behavior in both negative (harmful biases or inconsistencies) and positive (pro-social behavior, altruism) contexts (Ariely, 2010).

This discipline’s approach can assist in designing effective policies and interventions for a broad range of societal issues.

Potential Career Paths
1. Behavioral Economist
2. Policy Advisor
3. Market Research Analyst
4. Financial Planner
5. User Experience Researcher 


The study of social sciences can help students to develop deep and nuanced understandings of social phenomena and learn to approach social issues with intellectual rigor, critical insights, and academic skepticism (Brownstein-Evans et al., 2015). Overall, the social sciences can be considerably transformative both for individuals and society.


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Bell, M. (2022). An Invitation To Environmental Sociology. Sage Publications.

Berger, P.L., & Weisner Thomas S. (2014). Sociology Reinterpreted: An Essay on Method and Vocation. Parity Democracy Publications.

Brownstein-Evans, C., Shenk, D., & Erisman, S. K. C. (2015). The Individual and Social Impact of Gender Inequality. Race, Gender & Class, 22(3-4), 91–110.

Butler, J. (2011). Gender Trouble: Feminism And The Subversion Of Identity. Routledge.

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Card N.A. (2017) Methodological Issues In Social Psychology.Sage Publication Ltd.

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Chomsky N. (2020) Syntactic Structures. Pearson Education.

Cobanoglu E., Bahali K. (2018). The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence And Social Skill: An Investigation On The Students Of Sport Sciences.Nova Science Publishers.

Davis M., & Halpern C.T. (2012). Social Sciences And The Evolving Concept Of Race. Momentum Press.

Dhami S.(2016). The Foundations Of Behavioral Economic Analysis. Oxford University Press.

Dominelli L., & Campling J. (2012). Green Social Work From Environmental Crises To Environmental Justice.Polity Press.

Donnelly J.(2013). Universal Human Rights In Theory And Practice. Cornell University Press.

Dumner A.,& Tribe M.(2014). International Development Studies.Taylor & Francis.

Dunlap R.P., Brulle R.J.(2017)Climate Change And Society:Sociological Perspectives.Oxford University Press.  

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Erikson P., & Murphy L.D.(2022) A History Of Anthropological Theory.University Of Toronto Press.

Fiske S.T.(2014)Social Beings:Core Motives In Social Psychology.Wiley. 

Franz B.,& Boas A.(2020) Race: Science And Politics.Routledge.

Friederici A.D.(2020).Language In Our Brain: The Origins Of A Uniquely Human Capacity.The Mit Press.

Galtung J.,& Fischer D.(2013).Johan Galtung:Pioneer Of Peace Research.Springer.

Glaeser E. (2011). Triumph Of The City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.Penguin Press.

Grossberg L., Nelson C.,Treichler P. (2020) Cultural Studies. Routledge.

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Hall S., Evans J.,& Nixon S.(2020) Representation.Cultural Representations And Signifying Practices.Sage Publications Inc.

Henrich J., & Gil-White F.J.(2001). The Evolution Of Prestige : Freely Conferred Deference As A Mechanism For Enhancing The Benefits Of Cultural Transmission.Taylor & Francis .

Hettne B.(2016). Development Theories. Routledge.

Hubbard P., Kitchin R. (2010). Key Thinkers On Space And Place.Sage.

Johnson P.V., James A. (2014). Introductory Medical Surgical Nursing.Wolters Kluwer Health.

Kellner D., Hepp A. (2019). Transnationalizing The Public Sphere: A Critique.Linköping University Electronic Press.

King, R., & Pardo-Cuellar, R. (2016). The policy relevance of the social sciences. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(2), 228-235.

Knox P.L, Pinch S. (2020) Urban Social Geography: An Introduction.Pearson Education Limited.

Lederach J. (2015).Building Peace:Sustainable Reconciliation In Divided Societies.US Institute Of Peace Press.

Lorber J., Farrell S. (2011). The Social Construction Of Gender. Sage Publications.

Mankiw G.N., Reis R.(2018) Principles Of Economics.Cengage Learning.

Marmot M.(2020) Health Equity In England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On. British Medical Journal.

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Morsink J. (2017). Universal Declaration Of Human Rights Origins Drafting And Intent.University Of Pennsylvania Press.

Novignon J., Nonvignon J.(2020) Health And Economic Growth: Evidence From Dynamic Panel Data.Palgrave Macmillan.

Owen DRJ., Villar M.G.(2020).The Absorption And Metabolism Of A Therapeutic Agent.Taylor & Francis.

Petrina S., Feng F. (2010) Advanced Teaching Methods For The Technology Classroom.Information Science Reference.

Poston D.L., Bouvier L.F. (2017). Population And Society: An Introduction To Demography.Cambridge University Press.

Reitsma H.P., Jesse,Fahlenbrach Katrin (2016). Low Risk And High Return.American Psychological Association.

Reyes-García V., Pyhälä A. (2016) Changing Indigenous And Scientific Knowledge In Amazonian Anthropology.Wiley-Blackwell.

Riley M. (2011). Demography Of Ageing. Oxford University Press. 

Sayers T., Tomlinson J., and Baulkman J. (2020) Race And Resistance: Literature And Politics In Asian America. Oxford University Press.

Scarre C., Scarre G. (2016). The Ethics Of Archaeology : Philosophical Perspectives On Archaeological Practice.Cambridge University Press.

Siegel L.J., Welsh B.C. (2020). Criminology. Theories, Patterns, and Typologies. Cengage Learning.

Stone, A. (2018). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science. Journal of Social Philosophy, 49(4), 687-691.

Trudeau D., McMorran R.T. (2011). Spatializing Difference Beyond Cosmopolitanism. Wiley-Blackwell.

Wynn T., Coolidge F.L. (2017). How To Think Like A Neandertal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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