The Differences between Social Science and Social Studies


The Differences between Social Science and Social Studies


The discipline of social studies has had a precarious relationship with technology, simultaneously touting its potential benefits and critiquing its limitations in facilitating social studies practice. The integration of technology tools and resources into instruction has been accompanied by an interest in the power of technology to affect changes in social, civic, and economic functioning. Some of this impact has been beneficial to the construction of global connections among diverse people, while other components of technology diffusion have highlighted and accentuated inequities in access and quality of exposure. Historically, we have many examples of the simultaneous predictions of the utopia of technological progress (Hudson, 1997) and cautionary views which question the value and worth of technology (Postman, 2000; Stoll, 1999).

Educators have been fascinated by the potential of technology to make our lives more enjoyable, more efficient, and more productive. In social studies, the application of technology as a tool to ameliorate work products has become firmly entrenched in the curriculum, based on the premise that technology-based products can promote integrative learning, exploration of ethical and social policies, and active engagement in authentic activities. However, many schools have not kept pace with technoculture, either as a tool of instruction or as a focus of investigation and exploration (Berson, Lee, & Stuckart, 2001).

Furthermore, the mere act of placing a computer in the classroom does not seed reform. Students may access data and receive up-to-date information from top researchers in any area of specialty; however, effectiveness requires more than facilitated access to knowledge. Technology is merely a “means to an end” (White, 1997b), and necessitates a broader understanding of its role and application by teachers and learners.

Social studies and social science can be easy to confuse. Though Social they are sounds like two similar concepts and deal with some of the same subject matter. They are two different fields of study. However, there are some key differences that distinguish the two terms so that they cannot be used interchangeably. In this article, we are going to look at the difference between social science and social studies.

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What is Social Science?

The Social Sciences encompass diverse concerns of a society that include a wide range of content drawn from the disciplines of History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, and Sociology. The selection and organization of material into a meaningful Social Science curriculum, one that will enable students to develop a critical understanding of society, is, therefore, a challenging task. The possibilities of including new dimensions and concerns are immense, especially in view of the student’s own life experiences.

Social Science is a subject area that studies society and the relationships among individuals within a society. Social Science is categorized into many branches such as Geography (study of the earth and its features, inhabitants, and phenomena), Anthropology (study of humans), History (study of past), Economics (study of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services), political science(study of theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior.), etc.

What is Social Studies?

Social Studies as a field of study it is designed to promote civic competence and it is integrative, incorporating many fields of endeavor. Social Science is an umbrella concept and a field of study or academic discipline that envelops a number of discrete disciplines in their discreteness or separateness such as Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Psychology, Geography, and many others (Meziobi & Meziobi, 2015). Although, Social Science as a subject can be viewed as that, which is generally regarded to include Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, and Political Science, consists of the disciplined and systematic Study of Society and its institutions, and of how and why people behave as they do, both as individuals and in groups within society. At a minimum, it would appear that to be “scientific” entails a systematic and disciplined method of acquiring knowledge, and that knowledge must be verifiable knowledge (McQuail, 2005).

Social studies can be introduced as the study of both social sciences and humanities. According to U.S. American National Council for Social Studies, “Social studies, is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence.” However, social studies are most often used as the name of the course taught at schools.

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What is the difference between Social Science and Social studies?

  1. The main difference between social science and social studies is in their intended purposes. The social sciences are branches of study that analyze society and the social interactions of people within a society. Subjects that fall under the umbrella of social sciences are anthropology, history, economics, geography, and many others that explore societal relations.
  2. Social studies is the systematic study of an integrated body of content drawn from the social sciences and the humanities. It enables students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the diverse and dynamic nature of society and of how interactions occur among cultures, societies, and environments.
  3. Social science is more streams oriented. It’s the science of society; the in-depth knowledge and systematic study of each branch of social transaction. It is empirical and based on various scientific methods of deduction to arrive at a conclusion based on facts.
  4. Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote effective citizenry. Social studies are subjects most frequently taught to school students to help them understand how to be effective citizens of society.
  5. Social Science, as the name implies, deals with the science of society utilizing the gathering of data and analysis of that data. Whereas Social Studies normally deals with the observation of Society. Here students develop and apply skills as they investigate society, explore issues, make decisions, and work cooperatively with others.
  6. Social sciences are taught under a higher studies curriculum, social studies are subjects most frequently taught to school-based students to help them understand how to be effective citizens of society.
  7. The core difference between social science and social studies exists in their purpose; in social science, you study the society and social life of human groups while in social studies, you study both social science and humanities in order to promote effective citizenry.
  8. Social Studies is the study of all phases of societies whereas Social Science is the inference of those studies with the intention of solving problems within a society, which may lead to the ultimate development of the society as a whole.
  9. Social science is the field of sciences concerned with the studies of the social life of human groups and individuals. Social study is a term used to describe the broad study of various fields which involves past and current human behavior and interactions
  10. Another difference is that Social science is divided into many branches while social studies are divided into two main categories of humanities and social sciences.
  11. Social science dates back to the 18th century while social studies is a relatively new term.
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We can conclude therefore that even though social studies make use of social science disciplines, it has a different orientation. The study of social studies should remain an integral part of the educational system at all levels. We conclude that if social studies and social sciences did not permeate and cooperate with each other in the long run human beings and society would fail to develop smoothly.

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