Humanities vs Social science can look like Tweedledee and Tweedledum at first sight; as they all study human society and the human condition.
But not everyone can tell their (vast) differences!
Interestingly, these differences do not lie in the subject matter and topic, but rather the opposite approaches, methodologies, and resulting analysis.
If you are curious or wanna learn further, read below to grasp the difference between social science and humanities and potential jobs in these fields.
Table of Contents
Social Science Background
Social science is an academic discipline traced back to Ancient Greeks, with early inquiries into human nature and mortality.
The term initially referred to the field of sociology, or “science of society”.
It covers a wide range of subjects investigating our past, present, future, and analyzing human society beyond the limits of individual experience, based on trends and predictions.
The most popular fields are Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Archaeology, History, Law, Linguistics, Politics, and Economics.
Social scientists study institutions like the government, the economy, and the family. In addition, they examine how individuals and groups interact with one another and what motivates human behavior.
According to The European Science Foundation: “Social sciences are key to the understanding of many societal issues such as the balance between economic growth and impact on the environment. In other words the social sciences examine what it means to be a social being, ranging from the minutiae of human behaviour and brain functions, to large scale social movements, demographics, economics and politics.”
Research Methods In Social Sciences
Social science research mainly uses empirical methods that aim to explain the causality of events. These methods can be conducted in:
- The quantitative design concentrates on large sample sizes and the number of responses.
- The qualitative design focuses on gaining emotional insight through direct observation and communication with participants.
With these methods, the social researcher aims to attentively observe and measure the behavior of individuals and groups in their communities. From that, they want to provide a descriptive and predictive model that can explain the given events.
According to the ISEM 101 courses by the University of Idaho, in studying a rite of passage, a psychologist might ask: ”What variables contribute to the community’s identity and self-esteem?”
A sociologist would question: ”What are the contributing variables that strengthen social solidity?”
”How do political and economic variables contribute to social stratification within a community?”
”What functions might a rite of passage provide individual identity and social transitions, as well as community solidarity?”
Humanities are academic disciplines studying human culture, including law, history, ancient languages, history, modern languages, philosophy, religion, and visual/performing arts.
In reality, humanities is considered one of the oldest fields of knowledge available. Its origin derived from Ancient Greece, when the concept of liberal arts appeared.
Research Methods In The Humanities
- Hermeneutics: the study of interpretation, reflecting what makes interpretations sound or unsound, legitimate or wrong-headed.
- Literary criticism: the interpretation, comparison, analysis, and evaluation of literary works.
- Phenomenology: the study of structures of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view.
- Ethnography: the scientific description of the customs of people and cultures’ customs.
The goal of the humanities is to understand the culture’s meaning, purpose and to generate wisdom from there.
In these fields, common questions to investigate can be:
- How do we communicate effectively?
- How do we express ourselves?
- What makes each of us unique?
Unlike social sciences, humanities don’t frequently use mathematical or statistical data in their research.
The Value Of A Humanities vs Social Science Degree
Social Science Degree
A bachelor’s degree in social sciences can include multiple majors, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, political science, criminology, or cultural studies.
According to Zippia.com, a social science graduate in the US can earn $41,028/year on average.
Here are the top Six cities in the USA with the highest pay scale for social sciences graduates.
Top 6 cities with the highest pay scale for social science graduates. Source: Zippia
Social Science Jobs
Since this degree mainly involves studying human behavior and the relationship between humans and societies, jobs in public service fit quite well with those studying social science.
Here are the top 10 highest-paying social science careers we recommend:
- Political Scientist
- Urban and Regional Planner
- Survey Researcher
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
Now you might wonder why is Psychology considered a social science?
It is because Psychology studies human behavior, human minds, and mental development.
Even though many aspects of Psychology require natural science research, most psychological entities are based on prediction.
Finally, psychology is closely connected with social cognition, which is directly influenced by the social environment.
Unlike graduates with specific degrees, people with humanities degrees cannot apply for a job as a humanist. Therefore, they have to follow careers in fields that are closely relevant to their major.
Majoring in humanities strengthens your analytical research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Plus, the vast majority of time is spent investigating literature, history, culture, and human values.
Therefore, obtaining this degree can train you to be a transformation agent in the editorial world, cultural industry, cultural management, historical and heritage interpretation.
When it comes to getting a humanities degree, there are many common myths attach to it. One of them is that getting a humanities degree is a financial waste.
However, according to The American Academy of Arts & Sciences research, humanities graduates earn more than the average for all American workers.
In 2013, humanities graduates earned the median annual salary of $50,000 and above the $42,000 average for all American workers.
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So we have mentioned one common myth of the humanities degree.
The second most popular one is that Teaching is the only job you can get with a humanities degree. However, this myth is proved to be wrong. Nowadays, companies are looking for employees with interpersonal, analytical, critical thinking, and creative skills that are well-taught in Humanities majors.
Nonetheless, graduates inevitably find humanities majors are broad, and the career path is not clear. In this case, you should take more technical courses or other degrees related to the fields and jobs you are about to apply for. Together with the humanities degree, you will impress employers much more than the majority.
Here are ten potential jobs a humanities graduate can go for:
- Human Resources Specialist
- Foreign Correspondent
- Public Relations Manager
- Arts Director
- Education Administrator
- Museum Worker/Curator
Final Thoughts Of Humanities vs Social Science
No matter what differentiates these two fields, they are both essential to keep cultivating the well-being of society. They also preserve the core principles of a democratic society: integrity in leadership, ethics in public administration and legislation, and education in citizens.
Sadly, more people are considering studying STEM subjects as a key to surefire career success and raise their eyebrows at these social fields.
However, the world we live in is constantly changing that one degree cannot secure us a safe position. Instead, it is the innovativeness and leadership that keep us forward.
Trust your gut that when you pursue Humanities and Social Sciences seriously, you will equip yourself with skills needed to lead and innovate: integrity, inquisitiveness, perceptiveness, and creativity.