What are the "social sciences?"  Well, they aren't  the "hard sciences" such as physics, chemistry, biology, the environmental sciences, and so on. They could be called the "soft sciences."  But I think there is a more meaningful, down-to-earth way to distinguish the two categories of science.

The social sciences are about people and their customs and institutions. The hard sciences mostly function without any necessary references to people.

The social sciences offer vast, open fields of opportunity for lifelong learners. Unlike most of the work in the hard sciences, you don't have to master any special languages (such as math) in order to work at the introductory levels. You can jump directly into the heart of the history of Western civilization, but can do very little meaningful work in elementary physics without first knowing how to do the math.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not implying that the social sciences are "easier" than the others--doing some serious work in psychology or archaeology can be just as challenging, and certainly as rewarding, as anything in astronomy or geology. It's largely a personal thing.

So, indeed, the social sciences offer vast and fertile  fields for radical lifelong learning: Learning new stuff, asking yourself new questions, suggesting some original theories, doing endless hours of research, and -- sooner or later -- coming up with an original question and provable answer of your own.

Narrow the Topic



Criminal Justice


Political Science and Government



Modern Languages and Cultures



The social sciences are a great place to work well above your pay grade -- adding to the body of knowledge without being able to cite a long string of credentials. You know! Actually accomplishing something is far more meaningful that boasting about your qualifications for trying.

My little Kindle book (below) is my credential for doing a lot of fun stuff without the proper credentials.

David L. Heiserman, Editor

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Revised: June 06, 2015