Difference Between Humanities and Social Sciences

Humanities vs Social Sciences

There are areas of study that deal with human aspects and lives that are often referred to as humanities. There are also fields of study that deal with human societies and relationships that are very similar to humanities subjects. People often remain confused between humanities and social sciences because of their similarities. There are even Universities and colleges that have a department named as humanities and social sciences to create confusion in the minds of the students. Despite much overlap, there are differences between humanities and social sciences that will be talked about in this article.


Science and scientists are expected to uncover the truth and enhance our knowledge. However, lots of people feel that science must offer solutions to the problems faced by human societies also. The academic subjects or fields of study that provides students’ knowledge of concepts and skills that are intellectual rather than occupational are classified under humanities. Study of cultures is one of the important parts of this vast field of study that also includes languages, literature, religion, philosophy, visual and performing arts etc. The subjects that are clubbed together under humanities are not sciences for sure. However, these subjects aim to bring into focus the human or social aspects of sciences. These subjects are descriptive and move ahead through analysis and some speculation. Music, visual arts, theater etc. are also humanities subjects. History that has traditionally been a subject under humanities is nowadays included among social sciences.

Social Sciences

Social sciences are sciences, and this vast field of study includes subjects that adopt a scientific approach to study. However, these subjects are close to both human lives and natural sciences. Subjects like law, political science, history, education, psychology economics etc. classify to be called social sciences. Study of politics is called social science. The thing to remember is that the subjects included in social sciences are those that are in one way or the other connected with human society and human nature.

While traditionally only psychology, anthropology, sociology, and economics were included in social sciences, it has come to include many of the erstwhile humanities subjects such as law, political science, and linguistics.

What is the difference between Humanities and Social Sciences?

Both humanities, as well as social sciences, concern themselves with human lives and human nature. The difference lies in their approach as social sciences are sciences and adopt a more scientific approach, whereas humanities are descriptive and make use of analytical methods to explain concepts. This is why one finds lots of explanation in social sciences but a lot more understanding in humanities.