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What do Social Scientists do?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A social scientist’s job involves studying society. This not only includes events in a society’s past, but also behavior and relationships. These scientists strive to learn how individuals and groups make decisions to gain insight into their behavior patterns. They gather and analyze data and draw conclusions about the manner in which human beings develop socially, culturally, and even physically. Social scientists also use their studies to figure out how human activities and behaviors relate to the environment in which people live.

A historian is one type of social scientist. His job involves learning about the past and analyzing it. To do this, historians use a wide variety of informational sources, including newspapers and periodicals, government records, photos, manuscripts, and films. Historians may even use diaries to reconstruct past events. Some historians record their interpretations in books and articles. Many go on to teach others what they’ve learned.

An anthropologist is another type of social scientist. He studies the origin of human life as well as how people develop and behave. Anthropologists study people from various regions of the world, researching their ways of life, physical appearance, customs, and value systems. A person in this career also works to uncover the social patterns that exist in different cultures as well as language differences. Some anthropologists study evolution while others may focus on such things as war and overpopulation.

An archeologist is a type of social scientist who works to learn about past civilizations, including how they lived, worked, and socialized. These social scientists uncover and examine items past civilizations have left behind, including parts of structures, pottery, and even paintings found in caves. To find these items, archeologists dig at sites they believe will contain items important to their work.

Geographers are also considered social scientists. These social scientists research and assess physical and cultural characteristics of the earth or a portion of it. Among the things they may study are climates, bodies of water, plant life, land forms, political systems and economic aspects of particular regions. There are also medical geographers who study medical care systems and ways in which the environment impacts health.

Social scientists are usually highly educated. Most careers in this field require either a master’s degree or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Though less plentiful, there may be some ground-floor job opportunities that require only bachelor’s degrees. People in this field often obtain statistics training as well, as such training is helpful for analyzing research data.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Practical Adult Insights writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By BostonIrish — On Dec 27, 2010


I think that this is important, and it would add that it is also necessary for a scientist to recognize the limitations of his or her own cultural background. Everyone will have a tendency to see things a certain way because of how they are raised to think. In evaluating any culture, it is important to see them with their own eyes before seeing them through the cloud of ones own cultural ethos.

By BigBloom — On Dec 25, 2010

Understanding statistics and avoiding any type of stereotypical thinking is important in social science. In the early 20th century, anthropologists followed a fairly straightforward and exploitative system of social theory which tended to lump nations and social groups together into large categories. These categories are what ultimately led to massive atrocities such as the Holocaust and ethnic cleansing in many nations and regions of the world. Today, it is the duty of any social scientist to ensure that a strong and objective system is followed when understanding the immense nuance between all peoples.

By JavaGhoul — On Dec 22, 2010

An understanding of psychology is important in evaluating social groups. Different members of a group will tend to have different psychological roles, affecting the overall social psychology of the group. A social scientist needs to take these factors into account, since a system of multiple persons will tend to have tremendous nuance and variance.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a Practical Adult Insights writer, where she focuses on topics...
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