Research Paper: Comparison of the Social Sciences

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¶ … Social Sciences

Background- for centuries, philosophers have puzzled the human condition. Questions abound about why humans act the way they do, why they form groups, what role cultural and social norms have for learning, how societies form, the nature of society, social change, and the way integration and alienation fit in with modern societies. In particular, the changes in urbanization and technology, and access to other cultures, spurred even more study of what it means to be human. Together, these paradigms form a notion of human history in which theories have tried to explain different aspects of human behavior and interaction. We now call the study of society and human behavior social science; a more umbrella term that refers to a number of sub-disciplines that focus on different aspects of the human condition. In fact, the basis of this combination of study to look at a more holistic view of humanity developed out of the writings of Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim; both who looked at history as a continual evolution and the manner in which these changes impacted past and present. Even now in the age of globalization and advanced technology, the Social Sciences provide a way to understand humanity and help provide a template of ethics from which to evolve (Vessuri, 2000).

Anthropology- Anthropology is considered to be a holistic approach to the science of human existence, with the goal to provide an account of human nature. This field is certainly multi-disciplinary, since it has strong ties to human biology, linguistics, history, and cross-cultural communication. It is typically divided into four sub-fields: 1) Physical or Biological; 2) Linguistics; 3) Archaeology, and; 4) Cultural Anthropology. As a social science, anthropology takes the scientific method, but tends to study local traditions through a larger lens in order to understand events or eras, or broader trends within society. Of course, this also means that anthropologists study the very origins of humanity -- behavior as well as biological and physical differences and evolution. The field itself originated when the more "advanced" technological societies, primarily European oriented, came in contact with less developed societies and needed a way to explain certain nagging questions about culture. While this originated in the colonial and imperialistic eras, modern anthropology is a global discipline that has shifted after the 1970s to more seminal questions about the nature and production of knowledge and the manner in which divergent societies learned to communicate, trade, and form relationships. The physical part of anthropology, though, has remained more positivist, but has undergone a series of advancements due to increased fossil finds and the technology to analyze ancient materials (American Anthropological Association, 2012).

Psychology- Psychology is the study of both behavior and mental processes, as well as how knowledge and culture apply to an individual's everyday life. This, of course, includes what happens to individuals or groups who fall into the category of deviant, or behavior outside the norm -- whether through mental illness or a glitch in development. Psychology is unique from other social sciences in that it tends to focus more on explanatory generalizations about cognition (mental function) and the behavior of individuals. Other social sciences tend to be more descriptive about how groups function, but psychology also shares the hard science with the soft science in that it focuses on the interaction of mental processes and behavior -- the overall process of the human system as opposed to just biological, neurological, or even behavioristic. On one hand, psychology seeks to understand individuals and groups by finding general principles that can be applied globally, while on the other hand it focuses on curing individual behaviors to benefit society. Psychologists explore human issues like perception, cognition, emotion, motivation, personality, the unconscious mind, and any issue that may cause or contribute to certain behaviors. While there are numerous sub-disciplines of psychology as well, most involve at least a partial therapeutic role -- whether that be active healing or research directed towards healing (Fernald, 2008).

Sociology- From a broad perspective, sociology… [END OF PREVIEW]

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