Social Science & the Failing System

by on March 7th, 2015
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Educational institutes have been teaching the study of social sciences for centuries. The term social science is commonly used to refer to several fields outside of the natural sciences. One may, however, refer to it as the science of society that was established in the 19th century. With the vast array of study, todays educational institutes are failing to teach beyond the fundamentals which are necessary to project positive responses regarding society’s improvement and growth.

In an article written by Herbert J. Gans, a professor of sociology at Columbia University, it is expressed that in times of economic stress, social sciences must become more relevant and useful by devoting attention to societies major problems. The author feels strongly that distressing times require an overhaul in terms of the education received by the future students of social sciences. Currently, the educational system is failing to incorporate distinctive perspectives and methods on public issues.

Gans discusses that in the past certain movements have been marginalized by the academic social scientists that control the disciplinary roots. He feels strongly that distressing times will continue, and publicly bonded social scientists need to work together and settle their differences by working on issues they have in common. He expresses the difference between academic and social scientists, supported by his brief definition of what academic social scientists undertake as “basic” research, in which theories, research, concepts and methods are more important then research subjects.

Public social scientists may conclude that some behaviors or situations should change. They often become fixated on some action that might violate human rights and move beyond relative cultural issues to take a position. Social scientists usually work behind a desk, either alone or in collaboration with other social scientists; they read and write research articles or reports, very few actually do field work. With the lack of field study, could they actually benefit society in its current state? Times change drastically, and our society has proven itself more complicated than ever before. With cultural changes and technology advancements, education and implementation of social science will become a history lesson if the educational institutes and the professors which they hire do not remove themselves from these “research articles” and reach out to the public through extensive field studies and current behavioral research.

Conversely, Professor Gans believes that every discipline to correct the current issue within the education of social science should incorporate academic and public branches which include being trained to do empirical and theoretical research. I absolutely agree that it is imperative that the use of multivariate responses and statistics are performed and utilized prior to any individual receiving a degree or working as a professional in the field. The educational system is failing those who chose to work within the field of social sciences. In fact most research aims to contribute to the professionals “literature”. An academic doctor is more likely to have diagnosed and documented a patient’s symptoms than correcting the underlining issue.

Discipline is not the only solution and neither is collaborating to come up with a common agreement. The issue’s in social sciences does need to be revamped from the ground up. Higher criteria and expectations need to be set by the educational institutes which educate these individuals. A student will not be successful if the only base for their knowledge comes from text. This can be related to Mary Shelley’s book of Frankenstein, in which a student of literary knowledge becomes educated in his field and goes on to recreate life. Unfortunately this monsters creation leads to death and turmoil for his creator. If Frankenstein, the student, had been able to study realistic behaviors, and research the behavioral responses of society he probably would have re-directed is ignorant obsession and not created a socially unacceptable circumstance. Research should be performed outside and in the field; students should be required to engage with individuals from different social groups and statures. “It is therefore considered a critical socio-political issue to ensure provision of equal chances within the educational system” (qtd. In Empirical Research 2).

It is possible, that the future will hold no return on investment and corrections to the educational system if these circumstances within our educational system do not improve. Gans is right in holding his colleagues’ accountable for the current state of the situation. With non-collaborated statements and diagnosis, it would be extremely difficult to achieve successful implementation. Regardless of the state of economic stress, individuals within the department and those who chose to join it should be held to higher standards and not fall victim to the status of mediocre. Professors of social sciences should hold themselves accountable to the future of their profession and strive to find that common balance between what it would take to be successful and what it would take to overcome any and every obstacle that might arise, so that they may be able to make light on the world as it is. These professors of social science must remove themselves from the past and place foot in the future. In hopes that one day a significant change can be made in the education of social science.

Improvements and growth in the educational realm of social science are important to the success of our society. The individuals who chose to enter these fields should have a higher expectation placed upon them. We will not properly function as a society without being able to explain and correct our behaviors, and we will not be able to explain and correct our behaviors without studying them to the best of our ability. It is also important that the professionals in these fields change their outlook and choose more theoretical and empirical research tactics, while encouraging the predecessors of their profession to do the same. Educational institutes need to implement standards and field study applications that will help provide the successful tools needed by its students. When this is accomplished we will have the insight to help us understand the different ways in which individuals and groups make decisions, respond to change, and be able to fully implement the changes needed to produce successful communities all over the world.

Works Cited

Gans, Herbert J. “Public Presence & Social Science” SEEDMagazine.com. Seed Media Group,

14 Jan. 2011. Web. 4 Aug. 2011

Panitsidou, Euenia A. “Empirical Research on Education and Student Failure: Teachers

Psychological and Sociological Interpretations” International Journal of Humanities and

Social Science 1.9 (2011): n. pag. Web. 3 Aug. 2011.


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