This subject is an introduction to the social sciences that provides students with the conceptual tools necessary to make sense of the complex problems that they face in the modern world. The subject cultivates an understanding of core issues, fundamental theories and philosophical stances in the social sciences, and explores the manner in which social scientists formulate questions about society that can be addressed with empirical research. Canonical social science texts and methodologies are explored in lecture, discussion and group exercises. The subject is organized around four key questions: (i) What is society and what are the social sciences? (ii) How is society organized and how does it change (iii) How and why do people act? (iv) How do people express group values and norms? Each of these questions defines a thematic section within the class. The thematic sections are organized sequentially so that students begin with a broad examination of what social scientists mean when they use the term ‘social’. They then move on to address the ways in which individuals operate within political, economic, and cultural contexts. The subject concludes with a reflection on the symbolic dimensions of social life.

Subject Lead
Mihye Cho