Define research in the social sciences.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In order to answer this question, we must define two things.  First, we must define “social sciences.”  Then, we must define “research.” 

The social sciences are academic disciplines that are concerned societies and the ways in which people interact with one another within their societies.  These are disciplines that typically try to conduct themselves in scientific ways by doing empirical research.  Typically, we say that such disciplines as sociology, economics, psychology, geography, and political science are social sciences.

Research consists of efforts to better understand certain aspects of a given academic discipline.  In this case, then, research would consist of efforts to better understand aspects of societies and the relationships between people.  To understand what this means, let us look at a few examples.  In the field of economics, for example, we might conduct research to try to determine what happens to unemployment rates when the minimum wage increases.  In the field of sociology, we might look at how various groups of people are affected when there is increased immigration to a given country.  In both cases, we are conducting efforts to try to increase our understanding of how society works and how people interact with one another and with society.

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