“Social sciences” is an umbrella term that covers a number of academic disciplines; it is used in distinction from the “natural sciences.” Anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology are among the disciplines grouped in the larger category. While elements of social scientific approaches had been in place for centuries, the consolidation of a set of approaches that used scientific methodologies to analyze social problems is generally considered to begin in the19th century. These developments drew on 18th-century changes during the Enlightenment, with its renewed focus on the human being as a subject of analysis, was one strong influence. Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution, published in the mid-19th century, sparked a change in analytical approaches through all academic endeavors.
Because the social sciences cover every aspect of society and culture all over the world, each person will evaluate different topics as highly significant. One way to approach this question would be to examine a particular world area or aspect of society at a particular time and address it from the perspective of one specific social science. For example, sociology is ideally suited to analyzing widespread social changes such as the massive waves of European immigration to the Americas that occurred in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Because financial crises in Europe in those years were a primary factor that motivated people to leave, economics would be well suited to analyzing the financial dimensions of that social phenomenon.