It’s very strange to keep running into people speaking and writing dismissively about the social sciences, categorically, lumping all so-called “social sciences” together as though there are no distinctions and no real value to be found among any of its social theories and research. While I understand those who speak the worst of “the social sciences” are typically those with very limited and superficial exposure to such fields of study, perhaps having once attended a sociology course or gender studies course taught by a professor who rubbed them the wrong way; there’s a great deal more that falls under the heading of “social sciences” than many seem to realize.
- Political Science
- Economics & Business studies
- Communications & Linguistics
- Social Work
- Urban Development studies
- Public Administration
Etc. Law intersects with the social sciences realm even. As does Geography in terms of human migration and settling. And that’s certainly not all. So to dismiss this vast array of fields as though they, and any college majors therein, are useless strikes me as beyond ridiculous. Humans wish to understand ourselves, one another, our environments and histories, and how all are interrelated and impacted in myriad ways. To view such endeavors as folly simply because one can’t imagine most who go down that route of study will turn out highly profitable still doesn’t negate the value such research has added to our lives in countless ways, not to mention how such information plays into developments and innovations within other fields.
Makes me wonder where others are getting their information from that so many are now out wandering around online talking trash about “social sciences” in general. Were they raised by parents like my own who openly disdained sociology majors because they saw no money in going that route? I suppose if making money is your primary objective you might look elsewhere when choosing a college major, but income potential alone isn’t the sole determinant of the value of an entire network of fields of study.
Is it because students today are brought up on a STEM kick? And has that morphed into them thinking only those fields specifically are the ones worth pursuing any longer?
I’ll assume it’s mostly to do with naivety and a lack of deep exposure, and in saying that I am NOT defending every social theory taught therein. Nor do I subscribe to the notion that the social sciences realm is purely the terrain of Political Leftists and Feminists and should be left alone by all others, lest they wind up recruited. I’m not a Leftist and yet still headed down that path of study and remain just as libertarian as I ever was. Ceased identifying myself as a feminist while in college, and it wasn’t college that turned me on to feminism in the first place.
People like to say nowadays these fields of study are pointless, a waste of time and money, impractical, too theoretical without enough concrete backing (and on that last point there is a bit of truth, though one could argue the same thing about Philosophy and Religious studies). These are inquiries into humanity and our social institutions as they’ve been developed over time, how our places of business are organized, how our societies and forms of governments have been arranged, how our laws have been utilized in practice, how our minds function and our decisions are influenced, etc., etc.
Guess I just don’t understand the need for disparagement of a wide array of fields as if they have brought nothing to the table. Even the field of Sociology is far more complex than most seem to recognize. It’s opened up countless questions about why we humans do as we do, or did as we did, and whether there are other ways to manage life beyond what popular traditions and religions sanctioned as proper in any given era. Maybe people feel threatened by all the rapid changes of the last century or two and worry that opening up such inquiries is what unsettled the stability they’re nostalgic for. But that illusion of past stability isn’t wholly accurate either, and the changes we face now are arguably more the result of massive technological and industrial shifts over that same period of time. To generically blame “social sciences” for mucking up the status quo is tantamount to blaming the invention of the computer or television for doing so, or industrial-scale farming that shut down smaller family farm operations and drove people from their rural roots to urban cities in search of jobs, or the countless ways the economy has been altered and expanded throughout the last century. We certainly aren’t living within a vacuum here.
I will say this — perhaps it would be easier for people to accept these fields of study were they not referred to as “sciences.” That term alone seems to raise some ire, and I can understand why. Personally speaking, it wouldn’t bug me if “social sciences” were referred to instead as “social studies” since that’s a bit more accurate and less likely to trip people up in the common quibbles over the language usage.