Social Sciences

3.4259708737818 (824)
Posted by bender 03/12/2009 @ 18:07

Tags : social sciences, sciences

News headlines
Social Science Research Assists Navigation of 'Human Terrain' - Elites TV
This investment in social science research is driven by the current warfighting environment in Iraq and Afghanistan, which requires more direct interactions with the general population, said Estabrooke, who holds a doctorate in neuroscience....
Brazilian President Opens Research Center at Chinese Academy of ... - CRIENGLISH.com
Lula kicked off the second day of his China visit by opening a Brazilian studies center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the country's top research body. "In 2009, China became Brazil's first trading partner. Now we still face the challenge...
Revolutions in the History and Philosophy of Science - Metapsychology
Weinert defends the inclusion of Freud by stressing that Freudianism provides an interesting case study for the examination of the scientific status of a theory and the epistemological status of the social sciences. Because Freudianism has commitments...
UC Davis names dean of social sciences - Bizjournals.com
George R. Mangun has been appointed dean of the University of California Davis Division of Social Sciences. Mangun inherits a division that includes more than 240 faculty members, 10 departments, three research centers and eight interdisciplinary...
Government of Canada Invests in Regional Research Partnership - SYS-CON Media (press release)
Through a Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) grant administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), this investment will support numerous university researchers and students, in partnership with...
Social Networking and National Security: How to Harness Web 2.0 to ... - Heritage.org
Understanding social networking requires a multi-disciplinary approach to research that combines the techniques of the social sciences with "hard science" disciplines. This mix of disciplines is often called "network science." Network science examines...
Wary of US debt, China shifts gears on investment - Reuters
"The United States is making policy decisions purely according to domestic considerations and is giving little thought to the outside world," said Zhang Ming, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a leading think-tank....
Michigan scientist, ethicist urge scientists to speak out on ... - EurekAlert (press release)
Michigan Tech offers nearly 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, forestry and environmental sciences, computing, technology, business and economics, natural and physical sciences, arts, humanities and social sciences....
UCR Celebrates 2009 Graduates with Six Ceremonies - UC Riverside
Saturday, June 13, 8 am -- College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Departments of Anthropology, Economics, History, Philosophy and Political Science. Keynote speaker will be former UCR Chancellor Raymond Orbach. Under Orbach's leadership...
Though cheesy, Angels & Demons adds to science-religion debate - Canada.com
Simon Fraser University's dean of arts and social sciences, Lesley Cormack, contributes a lively chapter challenging the misconception that the medieval church taught that the earth was flat. Cormack points out that Thomas Aquinas and Dante,...

Social sciences

Buyers bargain for good prices while sellers put forth their best front in Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala.

The social sciences comprise academic disciplines concerned with the study of the social life of human groups and individuals including anthropology, communication studies, economics, human geography, history, political science, psychology and sociology.

The word "science" is older than its modern use. Through the influence of positivism, the word has become a short-form for "natural science". It is a recent development that society has become the object of an organized body of knowledge which can be standardized and taught objectively, while following its own rules and methodology.

In ancient philosophy, there was no difference between mathematics and the study of history, poetry or politics. Only with the development of mathematical proof did there gradually arise a perceived difference between "scientific" disciplines and others. Thus, Aristotle studied planetary motion and poetry with the same methods, and Plato mixes geometrical proofs with his demonstration on the state of intrinsic knowledge.

Augustine of Hippo wrote the City of God in the 5th century AD. Bruce Haddock, in 'The Political Classics: Essential Texts from Plato to Rousseau' (OUP 1992), describes the work as a veritable encyclopedia of late Roman culture... penetrating account of human motivation...

Significant contributions to the social sciences were made by Muslim scientists in the Islamic civilization. Al-Biruni (973–1048) has been called "the first anthropologist". He wrote detailed comparative studies on the anthropology of peoples, religions and cultures in the Middle East, Mediterranean and South Asia. Al-Biruni's anthropology of religion was only possible for a scholar deeply immersed in the lore of other nations. Biruni has also been praised by several scholars for his Islamic anthropology).

Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) is regarded as the father of demography, historiography, the philosophy of history, sociology, and the social sciences, and is viewed as one of the forerunners of modern economics. He is best known for his Muqaddimah (Prolegomenon in Greek).

During the European Age of Enlightenment, this unity of science as descriptive remains, for example, in the time of Thomas Hobbes who argued that deductive reasoning from axioms created a scientific framework, and hence his Leviathan was a scientific description of a political commonwealth. What would happen within decades of his work was a revolution in what constituted "science", particularly the work of Isaac Newton in physics. Newton, by revolutionizing what was then called "natural philosophy", changed the basic framework by which individuals understood what was "scientific".

While he was merely the archetype of an accelerating trend, the important distinction is that for Newton, the mathematical flowed from a presumed reality independent of the observer, and working by its own rules. For philosophers of the same period, mathematical expression of philosophical ideals was taken to be symbolic of natural human relationships as well: the same laws moved physical and spiritual realities. For examples see Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Leibniz and Johannes Kepler, each of whom took mathematical examples as models for human behavior directly. In Pascal's case, the famous wager; for Leibniz, the invention of binary computation; and for Kepler, the intervention of angels to guide the planets.

In the realm of other disciplines, this created a pressure to express ideas in the form of mathematical relationships. Such relationships, called "Laws" after the usage of the time (see philosophy of science) became the model which other disciplines would emulate.

The term "social science" first appeared in the 1824 book An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth Most Conducive to Human Happiness; applied to the Newly Proposed System of Voluntary Equality of Wealth by William Thompson (1775–1833). Auguste Comte (1797–1857) argued that ideas pass through three rising stages, theological, philosophical and scientific. He defined the difference as the first being rooted in assumption, the second in critical thinking, and the third in positive observation. This framework, still rejected by many, encapsulates the thinking which was to push economic study from being a descriptive to a mathematically based discipline. Karl Marx was one of the first writers to claim that his methods of research represented a scientific view of history in this model.

With the late 19th century, attempts to apply equations to statements about human behavior became increasingly common. Among the first were the "Laws" of philology, which attempted to map the change over time of sounds in a language.

It was with the work of Charles Darwin that the descriptive version of social theory received another shock. Biology had, seemingly, resisted mathematical study, and yet the theory of natural selection and the implied idea of genetic inheritance - later found to have been enunciated by Gregor Mendel, seemed to point in the direction of a scientific biology based, like physics and chemistry, on mathematical relationships.

In the first half of the 20th century, statistics became a free-standing discipline of applied mathematics. Statistical methods were used confidently, for example in an increasingly statistical view of biology.

The first thinkers to attempt to combine inquiry of the type they saw in Darwin with exploration of human relationships, which, evolutionary theory implied, would be based on selective forces, were Freud in Austria and William James in the United States. Freud's theory of the functioning of the mind, and James' work on experimental psychology would have enormous impact on those that followed. Freud, in particular, created a framework which would appeal not only to those studying psychology, but artists and writers as well.

One of the most persuasive advocates for the view of scientific treatment of philosophy would be John Dewey (1859–1952). He began, as Marx did, in an attempt to weld Hegelian idealism and logic to experimental science, for example in his Psychology of 1887. However, he abandoned Hegelian constructs. Influenced by both Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, he joined the movement in America called pragmatism. He then formulated his basic doctrine, enunciated in essays such as "The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy" (1910).

This change was not, and is not, without its detractors, both inside of academia and outside. The range of critiques begin from those who believe that the physical sciences are qualitatively different from social sciences, through those who do not believe in statistical science of any kind, through those who disagree with the methodology and kinds of conclusion of social science, to those who believe the entire framework of scientificizing these disciplines is mostly from a desire for prestige.

Some social science subfields have become very quantitative in methodology. Conversely, the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary nature of scientific inquiry into human behavior and social and environmental factors affecting it have made many of the natural sciences interested on some aspects of social science methodology. Examples of boundary blurring include emerging disciplines like social studies of medicine, sociobiology, neuropsychology, bioeconomics and the history and sociology of science. Increasingly, quantitative and qualitative methods are being integrated in the study of human action and its implications and consequences.

In 1924, prominent social scientists established the Pi Gamma Mu honor society for the social sciences. Among its key objectives were to promote interdisciplinary cooperation and develop an integrated theory of human personality and organization. Toward these ends, a journal for interdisciplinary scholarship in the various social sciences and lectureship grants were established.

Theodore Porter argued in The Rise of Statistical Thinking that the effort to provide a synthetic social science is a matter of both administration and discovery combined, and that the rise of social science was, therefore, marked by both pragmatic needs as much as by theoretical purity. An example of this is the rise of the concept of Intelligence Quotient, or IQ. It is unclear precisely what is being measured, but the measurement is useful in that it predicts success in various endeavors.

The rise of industrialism had created a series of social, economic, and political problems, particularly in managing supply and demand in their political economy, the management of resources for military and developmental use, the creation of mass education systems to train individuals in symbolic reasoning and problems in managing the effects of industrialization itself. The perceived senselessness of the "Great War" as it was then called, of 1914–18, now called World War I, based in what were perceived to be "emotional" and "irrational" decisions, provided an immediate impetus for a form of decision making that was more "scientific" and easier to manage. Simply put, to manage the new multi-national enterprises, private and governmental, required more data. More data required a means of reducing it to information upon which to make decisions. Numbers and charts could be interpreted more quickly and moved more efficiently than long texts. Conversely, the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary nature of scientific inquiry into human behavior and social and environmental factors affecting it have made many of the so-called hard sciences dependent on social science methodology. Examples of boundary blurring include emerging disciplines like social studies of medicine, neuropsychology, bioeconomics and the history and sociology of science. Increasingly, quantitative and qualitative methods are being integrated in the study of human action and its implications and consequences.

In the 1930s this new model of managing decision making became cemented with the New Deal in the US, and in Europe with the increasing need to manage industrial production and governmental affairs. Institutions such as The New School for Social Research, International Institute of Social History, and departments of "social research" at prestigious universities were meant to fill the growing demand for individuals who could quantify human interactions and produce models for decision making on this basis.

Coupled with this pragmatic need was the belief that the clarity and simplicity of mathematical expression avoided systematic errors of holistic thinking and logic rooted in traditional argument. This trend, part of the larger movement known as modernism provided the rhetorical edge for the expansion of social sciences.

There continues to be little movement toward consensus on what methodology might have the power and refinement to connect a proposed "grand theory" with the various midrange theories which, with considerable success, continue to provide usable frameworks for massive, growing data banks. See consilience.

Universities throughout the world consider the study of the social sciences as vital for the future of society, and most cater for many degrees in the multiplicity of social science fields.

In the United States, a degree candidate who has studied a field within the social sciences may earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, particularly if the field was within one of the traditional "liberal arts" - such as history - or may earn a Bachelor of Science degree, as the social sciences constitute one of the two main branches of "science" (the other being the "natural sciences"). In addition, beginning in the 20th century, specialized degrees have been created at some institutions specifically for a social science - such as Bachelor of Economics degree, though such specialized degrees are relatively rare in the United States.

The Bachelor of Social Science, BSocSc or B.Soc.Sc is a degree targeted at the social sciences in particular, it is often more flexible and in-depth than other degrees which also include social science subjects. The Bachelor of Social Science can be studied at The University of Waikato(Hamilton, New Zealand), The University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia), The University of Hong Kong(Hong Kong, China), The University of Manchester(Manchester, England), Lincoln University(Christchurch, New Zealand), National University of Malaysia(Bangi, Malaysia), and The University of Queensland(Brisbane, Australia).

Economics has two broad branches: microeconomics, where the unit of analysis is the individual agent, such as a household, firm and macroeconomics, where the unit of analysis is an economy as a whole. Another division of the subject distinguishes positive economics, which seeks to predict and explain economic phenomena, from normative economics, which orders choices and actions by some criterion; such orderings necessarily involve subjective value judgments. Since the early part of the 20th century, economics has focused largely on measurable quantities, employing both theoretical models and empirical analysis. Quantitative models, however, can be traced as far back as the physiocratic school. Economic reasoning has been increasingly applied in recent decades to social situations where there is no monetary consideration, such as politics, law, psychology, history, religion, marriage and family life, and other social interactions.

This paradigm crucially assumes (1) that resources are scarce because they are not sufficient to satisfy all wants, and (2) that "economic value" is willingness to pay as revealed for instance by market (arms' length) transactions. Rival schools of thought, such as heterodox economics, institutional economics, Marxist economics, socialism, green economics, and economic sociology, make other grounding assumptions, such as that economics primarily deals with the exchange of value, and that labor (human effort) is the source of all value.

The expanding domain of economics in the social sciences has been described as economic imperialism.

Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, positive judgement and well-developed wisdom. Education has as one of its fundamental aspects the imparting of culture from generation to generation (see socialization). To educate means 'to draw out', from the Latin educare, or to facilitate the realization of an individual's potential and talents. It is an application of pedagogy, a body of theoretical and applied research relating to teaching and learning and draws on many disciplines such as psychology, philosophy, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, sociology and anthropology.

The education of an individual human begins at birth and continues throughout life. (Some believe that education begins even before birth, as evidenced by some parents' playing music or reading to the baby in the womb in the hope it will influence the child's development.) For some, the struggles and triumphs of daily life provide far more instruction than does formal schooling (thus Mark Twain's admonition to "never let school interfere with your education"). Family members may have a profound educational effect — often more profound than they realize — though family teaching may function very informally.

Geography as a discipline can be split broadly into two main sub fields: human geography and physical geography. The former focuses largely on the built environment and how space is created, viewed and managed by humans as well as the influence humans have on the space they occupy. The latter examines the natural environment and how the climate, vegetation & life, soil, water and landforms are produced and interact. As a result of the two subfields using different approaches a third field has emerged, which is environmental geography. Environmental geography combines physical and human geography and looks at the interactions between the environment and humans.

Geographers attempt to understand the earth in terms of physical and spatial relationships. The first geographers focused on the science of mapmaking and finding ways to precisely project the surface of the earth. In this sense, geography bridges some gaps between the natural sciences and social sciences. Historical geography is often taught in a college in a unified Department of Geography.

Modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks to understand how the world has changed in terms of human settlement and natural patterns. The fields of Urban Planning, Regional Science, and Planetology are closely related to geography. Practitioners of geography use many technologies and methods to collect data such as remote sensing, aerial photography, statistics, and global positioning systems (GPS).

The field of geography is generally split into two distinct branches: physical and human. Physical geography examines phenomena related to climate, oceans, soils, and the measurement of earth. Human geography focuses on fields as diverse as Cultural geography, transportation, health, military operations, and cities. Other branches of geography include Social geography, regional geography, geomatics, and environmental geography.

History is the continuous, systematic narrative and research of past events as relating to the human species; as well as the study of all events in time, in relation to humanity. There is much debate over history's classification of academe, for instance in the United States the National Endowment for the Humanities includes history in its definition of a Humanities (as it does for applied Linguistics). However the National Research Council classifies History as a Social science. History can be seen as the sum total of many things taken together and the spectrum of events occurring in action following in order leading from the past to the present and into the future. The historical method comprises the techniques and guidelines by which historians use primary sources and other evidence to research and then to write history.

Law in common parlance, means a rule which (unlike a rule of ethics) is capable of enforcement through institutions. The study of law crosses the boundaries between the social sciences and humanities, depending on one's view of research into its objectives and effects. Law is not always enforceable, especially in the international relations context. It has been defined as a "system of rules", as an "interpretive concept" to achieve justice, as an "authority" to mediate people's interests, and even as "the command of a sovereign, backed by the threat of a sanction". However one likes to think of law, it is a completely central social institution. Legal policy incorporates the practical manifestation of thinking from almost every social sciences and humanity. Laws are politics, because politicians create them. Law is philosophy, because moral and ethical persuasions shape their ideas. Law tells many of history's stories, because statutes, case law and codifications build up over time. And law is economics, because any rule about contract, tort, property law, labour law, company law and many more can have long lasting effects on the distribution of wealth. The noun law derives from the late Old English lagu, meaning something laid down or fixed and the adjective legal comes from the Latin word lex.

Linguistics investigates the cognitive and social aspects of human language. The field is divided into areas that focus on aspects of the linguistic signal, such as syntax (the study of the rules that govern the structure of sentences), semantics (the study of meaning), phonetics (the study of speech sounds) and phonology (the study of the abstract sound system of a particular language); however, work in areas like evolutionary linguistics (the study of the origins and evolution of language) and psycholinguistics (the study of psychological factors in human language) cut across these divisions.

The overwhelming majority of modern research in linguistics takes a predominantly synchronic perspective (focusing on language at a particular point in time), and a great deal of it—partly owing to the influence of Noam Chomsky—aims at formulating theories of the cognitive processing of language. However, language does not exist in a vacuum, or only in the brain, and approaches like contact linguistics, creole studies, discourse analysis, social interactional linguistics, and sociolinguistics explore language in its social context. Sociolinguistics often makes use of traditional quantitative analysis and statistics in investigating the frequency of features, while some disciplines, like contact linguistics, focus on qualitative analysis. While certain areas of linguistics can thus be understood as clearly falling within the social sciences, other areas, like acoustic phonetics and neurolinguistics, draw on the natural sciences. Linguistics draws only secondarily on the humanities, which played a rather greater role in linguistic inquiry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Ferdinand Saussure is considered the father of modern linguistics.

Political science is an academic and research discipline that deals with the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior. Fields and subfields of political science include political economy,political theory and philosophy, civics and comparative politics, theory of direct democracy, apolitical governance, participatory direct democracy, national systems, cross-national political analysis, political development, international relations, foreign policy, international law, politics, public administration, administrative behavior, public law, judicial behavior, and public policy. Political science also studies power in international relations and the theory of Great powers and Superpowers.

Political science is methodologically diverse. Approaches to the discipline include classical political philosophy, interpretivism, structuralism, and behavioralism, realism, pluralism, and institutionalism. Political science, as one of the social sciences, uses methods and techniques that relate to the kinds of inquiries sought: primary sources such as historical documents and official records, secondary sources such as scholarly journal articles, survey research, statistical analysis, case studies, and model building. Herbert Baxter Adams is credited with coining the phrase "political science" while teaching history at Johns Hopkins University.

One of the main branches of political science, public administration can be broadly described as the development, implementation and study of branches of government policy. The pursuit of the public good by enhancing civil society and social justice is the ultimate goal of the field. Though public administration has historically referred to as government management, it increasingly encompasses non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that also operate with a similar, primary dedication to the betterment of humanity.

Differentiating public administration from business administration, a closely related field, has become a popular method for defining the discipline. First, the goals of public administration are more closely related to those often cited as goals of the American founders and democratic people in general. That is, public employees work to improve equality, justice, security, efficiency, effectiveness, and, at times, for profit. These values help to both differentiate the field from business administration, primarily concerned with profit, and define the discipline. Second, public administration is a relatively new, multidisciplinary field. Woodrow Wilson's The Study of Administration is frequently cited as the seminal work. Dr. Wilson advocated a more professional operation of public officials' daily activities. Further, the future president identified the necessity in the United States of a separation between party politics and good bureaucracy, which has also been a lasting theme.

The multidisciplinary nature of public administration is related to a third defining feature: administrative duties. Public administrators work in public agencies, at all levels of government, and perform a wide range of tasks. Public administrators collect and analyze data (statistics), monitor fiscal operations (budgets, accounts, and cash flow), organize large events and meetings, draft legislation, develop policy, and frequently execute legally mandated, government activities. Regarding this final facet, public administrators find themselves serving as parole officers, secretaries, note takers, paperwork processors, records keepers, notaries of the public, cashiers, and managers. Indeed, the discipline couples well with many vocational fields such as information technology, finance, law, and engineering. When it comes to the delivery and evaluation of public services, a public administrator is undoubtedly involved.

Psychology is an academic and applied field involving the study of behavior and mental processes. Psychology also refers to the application of such knowledge to various spheres of human activity, including problems of individuals' daily lives and the treatment of mental illness.

Psychology differs from anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology in seeking to capture explanatory generalizations about the mental function and overt behaviour of individuals, while the other disciplines focus on creating descriptive generalizations about the functioning of social groups or situation-specific human behavior. In practice, however, there is quite a lot of cross-fertilization that takes place among the various fields. Psychology differs from biology and neuroscience in that it is primarily concerned with the interaction of mental processes and behavior, and of the overall processes of a system, and not simply the biological or neural processes themselves, though the subfield of neuropsychology combines the study of the actual neural processes with the study of the mental effects they have subjectively produced. Many people associate Psychology with Clinical Psychology which focuses on assessment and treatment of problems in living and psychopathology. In reality, Psychology has myriad specialties including: Social Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Mathematical psychology, Neuropsychology, and Quantitative Analysis of Behaviour to name only a few. The word psychology comes from the ancient Greek ψυχή, psyche ("soul", "mind") and logy, study).

Psychology is a very broad science that is rarely tackled as a whole, major block. Although some subfields encompass a natural science base and a social science application, others can be clearly distinguished as having little to do with the social sciences or having a lot to do with the social sciences. For example, biological psychology is considered a natural science with a social scientific application (as is clinical medicine), social and occupational psychology are, generally speaking, purely social sciences, whereas neuropsychology is a natural science that lacks application out of the scientific tradition entirely. In British universities, emphasis on what tenet of psychology a student has studied and/or concentrated is communicated through the degree conferred: B.Psy. indicates a balance between natural and social sciences, B.Sc. indicates a strong (or entire) scientific concentration, whereas a B.A. underlines a majority of social science credits.

Social Work is concerned with social problems, their causes, their solutions and their human impacts. Social workers work with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Social Work is the profession committed to the pursuit of social justice, to the enhancement of the quality of life, and to the development of the full potential of each individual, group and community in society. Social refers to human society or its organization. stem "soci-" which is from the Latin word socius, meaning member, friend, or ally, thus referring to people in general. It is a social science involving the application of social theory and research methods to the study and improve the lives of people, groups, and societies. Social work is unique in that it seeks to simultaneously navigate across and within micro , mezzo, and macro systems -in order to sufficiently address and resolve social issues at every level. Social work incorporates and utilizes all of the social sciences as a means to improve the human condition.

Social work bases its methodology on a systematic body of evidence-based knowledge derived from research and practice evaluation, including local and indigenous knowledge specific to its context. It recognizes the complexity of interactions between human beings and their environment, and the capacity of people both to be affected by and to alter the multiple influences upon them including bio-psychosocial factors. The social work profession draws on theories of human development and behaviour and social systems to analyse complex situations and to facilitate individual, organizational, social and cultural changes. (International Federation of Social Workers).

In social work research there is a great deal of traditional research, both qualitative and quantitative being carried out, primarily by university-based researchers, but also in different fields, by researchers based in institutes, foundations, or social service agencies. Meanwhile, the majority of social work practitioners continue to look elsewhere for knowledge. This is a state of affairs that has persisted since the outset of the profession in the first decade of the twentieth century. One reason for the practice-research gap is that practitioners deal with situations that are unique and idiosyncratic, while research deals with regularities and aggregates. The translation between the two is often imperfect. A hopeful development for bridging this gap is the compilation in many practice fields of collections of "best practices," largely taken from research findings, but also distilled from the experience of respected practitioners.

Sociology is the study of society and human social action. It generally concerns itself with the social rules and processes that bind and separate people not only as individuals, but as members of associations, groups, communities and institutions, and includes the examination of the organization and development of human social life. The sociological field of interest ranges from the analysis of short contacts between anonymous individuals on the street to the study of global social processes. Most sociologists work in one or more subfields.

The meaning of the word comes from the suffix "-ology" which means "study of," derived from Greek, and the stem "soci-" which is from the Latin word socius, meaning member, friend, or ally, thus referring to people in general. It is a social science involving the application of social theory and research methods to the study of the social lives of people, groups, and societies, sometimes defined as the study of social interactions. It is a relatively new academic discipline which evolved in the early 19th century.

Because sociology is such a broad discipline, it can be difficult to define, even for professional sociologists. One useful way to describe the discipline is as a cluster of sub-fields that examine different dimensions of society. For example, social stratification studies inequality and class structure; demography studies changes in a population size or type; criminology examines criminal behavior and deviance; political sociology studies government and laws; and the sociology of race and sociology of gender examine society's racial and gender cleavages.

Sociological methods, theories, and concepts may inspire sociologists to explore the origins of commonly accepted conventions. Sociology offers insights about the social world that extend beyond explanations that rely on individual quirks and personalities. Sociologist may find general social patterns in studying the behaviour of particular individuals and groups. This specific approach to social reality is sometimes called the sociological perspective.

Sociologists use a diversity of research methods, including case studies, historical research, interviewing, participant observation, social network analysis, survey research, statistical analysis, and model building, among other approaches. Since the late 1970s, many sociologists have tried to make the discipline useful for non-academic purposes. The results of sociological research aid educators, lawmakers, administrators, developers, and others interested in resolving social problems and formulating public policy, through subdisciplinary areas such as evaluation research, methodological assessment, and public sociology. New sociological sub-fields continue to appear - such as community studies, computational sociology, network analysis, actor-network theory and a growing list, many of which are cross-disciplinary in nature.

The social sciences share many social theory perspectives and research methods. Theory perspectives include various types of critical theory, dialectical materialism, feminist theory, phronetic social science, assorted branches of Marxist theory such as revolutionary theory and class theory, post-colonial theory, postmodernism as well as the related intellectual criticalism and scientific criticalism, rational choice theory, rational criticalism, social constructionism, structuralism, and structural functionalism. Research methods shared include a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods of data collection involves the use of numbers to assess information. This information can then be evaluated using statistical analysis. Questionnaires, field-based data collection and laboratory-based data collections are other types of techniques used in quantitative research.

The social sciences are sometimes criticized as being less scientific than the natural sciences, in that they are seen as being less rigorous or empirical in their methods. This claim has been made in the so-called Science Wars and is most commonly made when comparing social sciences to fields such as physics, chemistry or biology in which corroboration of the hypothesis is far more incisive with regard to data observed from specifically designed experiments. Social sciences can thus be deemed to be largely observational, in that explanations for cause-effect relationships are largely subjective. A limited degree of freedom is available in designing the factor setting for a particular observational study. Social scientists however, argue against such claims by pointing to the use of a rich variety of scientific processes, mathematical proofs, and other methods in their professional literature. Flyvbjerg (2001) has argued that the discussion of whether natural science is more scientific than social science is futile; social science is best practiced as phronesis, whereas natural science is best practiced as episteme, in the classical Greek meaning of the terms, and both have important if different roles to play in the production of knowledge in society.

It has been argued that the social world is much too complex to be studied as one would study static molecules. The actions or reactions of a molecule or chemical substance are always the same when placed in certain situations. Humans, on the other hand, are much too complex for these traditional scientific methodologies. Humans and society do not have certain rules that always have the same outcome and they cannot guarantee to react the same way to certain situations.

A third criticism is that social sciences tend to be compromised more frequently by politics, since results from social science may threaten certain centers of power in a society, particularly ones which fund the research institutions. Further, complexity exacerbates the problems, since observed social data may be the result of factors which are hard to evaluate in isolation.

Not all institutions recognize some fields listed above as social sciences or as being only social scientific. Some disciplines have characteristics of both the humanities, social and natural sciences: for example some subfields of anthropology, such as biological anthropology, are closely related to the natural sciences whereas archaeology and linguistics are social sciences, while cultural anthropology is very much linked with the humanities. Note that social science methodologies are being incorporated into so-called hard science fields like medicine, where a three-legged stool to the understanding of physical well-being is now emphasized in the medical curriculum: biological, socio-psychological, and environmental.

The beginnings of the social sciences in the 18th century are reflected in the grand encyclopedia of Diderot, with articles from Rousseau and other pioneers. The growth of the social sciences is also reflected in its specialised encyclopedias. The older editions are therefore of strong historical interest while the newest reflects current discussions and methodologies.

To the top



Social Sciences Citation Index

Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI ) is an interdisciplinary citation index product of Thomson Scientific. It was developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) from the Science Citation Index.

This citation database covers more than 1,700 of the world's leading journals of social sciences, and more than 50 disciplines. It is made available online through the Web of Science service for a fee. This database product provides information to identify the articles cited most frequently and by what publisher and author.

Bias In 2004 Economists Daniel Klein and Eric Chiang conducted a survey of the Social Sciences Citation index and identified a bias against free market oriented research. In addition to an ideological bias Klein and Chiang also identified several methodological deficiencies that encouraged the over-counting of citations and argue that the Social Science Citations Index does a poor job reflecting the relevance and accuracy of articles.

To the top



Toulouse 1 University Social Sciences

University of Toulouse I: Social Sciences (Université Toulouse 1 Sciences Sociales, also called UT1) is located in the heart of the city of Toulouse, in southwestern France, and boasts an age-old academic tradition which goes back to 1229.

University buildings cover an area of 78,000 m² and are available to 17,000 students. On the two sites of the "Arsenal" and "Anciennes Facultés", a 2 minutes' walk from Place du Capitole, are located most lecture halls and classrooms as well as the main library on the Toulouse campus.

The Manufacture des Tabacs, between the Garonne river and the Brienne canal is where most research and library centres are to be found.

UT1 also provides courses in Montauban and Rodez.

The teaching policy privileges a pragmatic approach and high-quality job opportunities while promoting adequate teaching programmes.

UT1 is a world leader in research in industrial economics (ranked fifth in the world for publications in IO/business economics after Harvard, UC Berkeley, Chicago, and Stanford by econphd.net), with many well-known international researchers and Ph.D. students from all over the world.

To the top



Source : Wikipedia