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Social sciences

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The social sciences comprise the application of scientific methods to the study of the human aspects of the world. They are also known (pejoratively) as the soft sciences (in contrast to the hard sciences), although many social scientists also refer to their discipline as the harder sciences, given the complexity of their subject matter.

Psychology studies the human mind and behavior; sociology examines human society and human relationships within it; political science studies the governing of groups and countries; communication the flow of discourse via various media; economics concerns itself with the production and allocation of wealth in society; and history the record of human societies. Social sciences diverge from the humanities in that many in the social sciences emphasise the scientific method or other rigorous standards of evidence in the study of humanity, although many also use much more qualitative methods. --http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences [Jun 2005]

Major fields

The main social sciences include:

--http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_sciences [Feb 2005]

Discourse [...]

In the social sciences a discourse is considered to be an instutionalized way of thinking, a social boundary defining what can be said about a specific topic. Discourses are seen to affect our views on all things; in other words, it is not possible to escape discourse. For example, two distinctly different discourses can be used about various guerrilla movements describing them either as "freedom fighters" or "terrorists". In other words, the chosen discourse delivers the vocabulary, expressions and perhaps also the style needed to communicate.

Discourse is closely linked to different theories of power and state, at least as long as defining discourses is seen to mean defining reality itself.

The social conception of discourse is often linked with the work of the French social philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse [Aug 2004]


  1. The Social Science Encyclopedia - Adam Kuper, Jessica Kuper [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    More of a dictionary than an encyclopedia, this one-volume paperback update to the first edition (LJ 4/15/86) comprises 600 entries, 90 percent of which are new or substantially revised to reflect recent developments and approaches in the social sciences, e.g., feminism, postmodernism, sociobiology, environmental and evolutionary economics, and cultural studies. Contributors, mostly scholars from the United Kingdom and the United States, are aiming at an audience of scholars and social scientists who need a handy desk reference for quick overviews of terms, concepts, movements, and individuals from disciplines outside or adjoining their own fields. The entries are of high quality in terms of content, but inevitably any one-volume work that attempts to cover all the social sciences will have gaps: for example, there's an entry on semantics but no entries for the equally important linguistic subfields of phonology and syntax. Readers needing in-depth treatment of topics will be better served by the multivolume encyclopedias that cover individual disciplines in the social sciences, the true heirs to the venerable Encyclopedia of Social Sciences (1930) and the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (1968). All libraries that missed the hardcover should purchase this inexpensive paperback edition.AMarc Meola, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia --Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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