Social science is 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, political science, human geography, demography, psychology, and sociology. In a wider sense, social science also includes some fields in the humanities such as anthropology, archaeology, jurisprudence, history, 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. A more detailed list of sub-disciplines within the social sciences can be found at Outline of social science.
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. The term social research has also acquired a degree of autonomy as practitioners from various disciplines share in its aims and methods.