What is social science?

There are various definitions of social science. A short one is “the scholarly study of human society and social relationships”.

The European Science Foundation has a longer one: “Social sciences are key to the understanding of many…societal issues such as the balance between economic growth and impact on the environment. In other words the social sciences examine what it means to be a social being, ranging from the minutiae of human behaviour and brain functions, to large scale social movements, demographics, economics and politics.”

The social sciences include: anthropology; business and management; economics; human geography; law; media studies; political science and international relations; psychology; social policy and sociology. List of social science organisations.

According to The Impact of The Social Sciences (SAGE, 2014), there were around 630,000 students studying social science subjects at UK universities in 2010/11 (34% of the total number of students), and there were around 35,000 academics (26% of the total) in social science areas.
Introduction to The Impact of The Social Sciences (pdf)
Statistical summary from The Impact of The Social Sciences (pdf – 33Mb)

Social scientists are often based in departments of health or science within universities, as well as in social science areas. Many researchers work outside of academia in industry and government.

Our site features some of the work of social scientists. See our Social Science section. Our Making the Case booklets give summaries of some research, and our News section has the latest information. To see more on social science’s ability to explain our society, visit Social Science in the News. In 2015 we published our report, The Business Of People: The Significance of Social Science Over The Next Decade.

10 reasons why you need social science.