Because social sciences are interdisciplinary in nature, the research conducted by specialists in one field often overlaps work that is being conducted in another discipline. Regardless of their fields of specialization, social scientists are concerned with some aspect of society, culture, or personality.
- Anthropologists study the origin and the physical, social, and cultural development and behavior of humans. They may study the way of life, remains, language, or physical characteristics of people in various parts of the world, comparing customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures. Anthropologists generally concentrate in sociocultural anthropology, archaeology, biological-physical anthropology, or linguistics. Sociocultural anthropologists study the customs, cultures, and social lives of groups in a wide range of settings, from nonindustrialized societies to modern urban cultures. Linguistic anthropologists study the role of language in various cultures. Biological-physical anthropologists study the evolution of the human body and look for the earliest evidences of human life.
- Archaeologists are part of a subdivision of anthropology. Archaeologists study the artifacts of past cultures to learn about their histories, customs, and living habits. They survey and excavate archaeological sites, recording and cataloging their finds, and reconstruct earlier cultures and determine their influences on the present.
- Economists study the production, distribution, and consumption of commodities and services. They may conduct
surveys and analyze data to determine public preferences for these goods and services.Most economists are concerned with the practical applications of economic policy in a particular area, such as finance, labor, agriculture, transportation, energy, or health. Others develop theories to explain economic phenomena such as unemployment or inflation. Marketing research analysts research market conditions in localities, regions, the nation, or the world to determine potential sales of a product or service; they examine and analyze data on past sales and trends to develop forecasts.
- Geographers study the distribution of both physical and cultural phenomena on local, regional, continental, and
global scales.Most specialize in a particular field. Economic geographers study the regional distribution of resources and economic activities. Political geographers are concerned with the relationship of geography to political phenomena at local, national, and international levels. Physical geographers study the distribution of climates, vegetation, soil, and land forms. Urban and transportation geographers study cities and metropolitan areas, while regional geographers study the physical, climatic, economic, political, and cultural characteristics of regions, ranging in size from a congressional district to a state, country, continent, or the entire world.Medical geographers study health care delivery systems, epidemiology, and the effect of the environment on health. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysts work in a geographic specialty that combines computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and high-speed communication to store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, and map geographic data. GIS is widely used in weather forecasting, emergency management, and resource analysis and management.
- Historians research and analyze the past. They use many information sources in their research, including government and institutional records, newspapers and other periodicals, photographs, interviews, films, and unpublished manuscripts such as diaries and letters. Historians usually specialize in a specific country or region; in a particular time period; or in a particular field, such as social, intellectual, political, or diplomatic history. Biographers collect detailed information on individuals. Genealogists trace family histories. Other historians help study and preserve archival materials, artifacts, and historic buildings and sites.
- Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems. They conduct research on a
wide range of subjects, such as relations between the United States and foreign countries, the beliefs and institutions of foreign nations (for example, those in Asia and Africa), the politics of small towns or a major metropolis, or the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. Studying topics such as public opinion, political decision making, and ideology, they analyze the structure and operation of governments as well as informal political entities. Depending on the topic, a political scientist might conduct a public opinion survey, analyze election results, or analyze public documents.
- Psychologists, who comprise more than half of all social scientists, study human behavior and counsel or advise
individuals or groups. Their research also assists business advertisers, politicians, and others interested in influencing or motivating people.While clinical psychology is the largest specialty, psychologists focus on many other fields, such as counseling, experimental, social, or industrial psychology.
- Sociologists analyze the development, structure, and behavior of groups or social systems such as families, neighborhoods, or clubs. They may specialize in a particular field, such as criminology, rural sociology, or medical sociology.
- Urban and regional planners develop comprehensive plans and programs for the use of land for industrial and public sites. Planners prepare for situations that are likely to develop as a result of population growth or social and