Social science is a major branch of science, and a major category of academic disciplines, concerned with society and the relationships among individuals within a society. It in turn has many branches, each of which is considered a “social science”. The main social sciences include economics, human geography, political science, demography and sociology. In a wider sense, social science also includes among its branches some fields in the humanities such as anthropology, archaeology, history, law and linguistics. The term is also sometimes used to refer specifically to the field of sociology, the original ‘science of society’, established in the 19th century. Positivist social scientists use methods resembling those of the natural sciences as tools for understanding society, and so define science in its stricter modern sense. Interpretivist social scientists, by contrast, may use social critique or symbolic interpretation rather than constructing empirically falsifiable theories, and thus treat science in its broader sense. In modern academic practice, researchers are often eclectic, using multiple methodologies (for instance, by combining the quantitative and qualitative techniques). The term social research has also acquired a degree of autonomy as practitioners from various disciplines share in its aims and methods.
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