History and Government: How is history a social science?

CHAPTER ONE

1 a vii). Explain how history is a social science.

History as a social science

The term social science has been defined differently by a number of professional practitioners. Some of the definitions are as follows1

  • Social sciences are concerned immediately with the life, institutions, the thoughts, the aspirations and the far-reaching policies of a nation in its world setting. The social sciences embrace the traditional disciplines which are concerned directly with man and society (American Historical Association: 1934)
  • Social sciences are those subjects that relate to the origin, organization and development of human society especially man in his association with other men (Arthur C. Binning and David Fi. Binning1 1952)
  • Social sciences are those parts of cultural knowledge which have a direct bearing on man’s activities in specific fields, . . . arc advanced studies of human society which are meant for mature studies and they aim at finding out new truths about human relationships so as to contribute to social utility Q.C. Aggarwal: 1982).

The relationship between social science and history can be derived from these definitions. The definitions have one thing in common: they focus on people and society (see Figure 1). This implies the way people interact with environment, both natural and artificial. History being the study of people’s activities (past and present) fits well in the above definitions because like all social science disciplines, it deals with the way people interact with the environment. Whatever results from this interaction is what becomes a record of people’s activities and thus history.( see figure 1)

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