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Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences, humanities and history. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as Anthropology, Archaeology, Economics, Geography, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences.
The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.
The field is motivated by a desire to understand and explain real-world social phenomena while academia in the field is not purposely directed towards that end. Instead, social scientists are taught a theoretical framework and then apply it to every problem they work on. Academics are rewarded by publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals. Examples of theoretical frameworks are critical analysis, new institutionalism and instrumental variables. These are applied singly and little effort is dedicated to reconciling conflicting hypotheses or results emanating from the use of differing frameworks. Proposed theories are seldom tested in practice as seldom make an attempt to predict outcomes and in the cases they do, they come with large margins for error. Forwarded hypotheses may also either be untestable or the test may require larger resources to test than anyone is willing to provide. Thus hypotheses in the field gain support for other reasons than their ability to account for empirical observations.
Social studies arguably began with the influential 1916 study Social Studies in Secondary Education, which was put together by the National Education Association and published by the U.S. Office of Education. Social studies is the studies of man and physical environment.