5 April 2014




The school is a social institution. It imparts instruction covering a variety of subjects. Education is a lifelong process. Man is in the centre of all educational activities, processes, programmes or products.

Although one can say that language learning, the arts, mathematics and the natural sciences deal with human experiences in the form of ideas, skills and products, it is the special function of social studies to have the people as the subject matter. 

Consider, for a moment, yourself as an object of study. In order to arrive at a meaningful understanding of you, you would have to investigate your past (history), the environment in which you live (geography), your needs and desires (psychology), how you will place yourself in the society in which you live (sociology), how you are supported financially (economics), the influence you exert on others and vice-versa (political science), how your culture has influenced you (anthropology) and so on.

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Thus social studies reveals to the learner where she/he is in the context of time, space and society. Hence, definitions and the nature of social studies range fiom a study of human beings favouring a separate subject approach to an integrated one in which the subject matter is indistinguishable as history, geography, civics and so on.

You might define social studies as something similar to any of the following:

1 It is a study of the people in their environment.
2. It is a study of how people live and work together at the local, national or international level.
3. It is an inquiry to realise how the people today all over the world are economically and politically interdependent.
4. It is a study to enhance the understanding of the past to interpret the present or current trends to develop skills of becoming an effective member of the society in which one lives.

Understanding Social Studies in Relation to Other Areas of Study

The field of social studies is distinct from other fields of learning for the fact that its content  as well as purpose emphasis human-beings and their various relationships. As already stated, all  other fields of study also have a social purpose and utility. They form a significant part of the curriculum as they serve the needs of human-beings. Arithmetic  has social utility and enhances human relationships too, but its content is not inclusive of human-beings and their relationships.

Science deals with material objects, language with communication, and mathematics with quantity but social studies deals mainly with the relationships·among the people. While dealing with social studies, the emphasis is always upon relationships rather than individuals, upon social activities rather than individual performances, stressing that society makes the individuals and it is not merely composed of individuals. Its three main usually stated purposes are in terms of satisfying individual needs, acquiring academic, social, and scientific knowledge and providing citizens education relevant to societal needs. It clarifies that no human-being lives for himself/herself and that social studies is devoted to a study of the life of the people with reference to and in the context of the society where one lives.

Present Perception of Social Studies as a Subject-reality and Expectations

In almost all the states, of India, the subject of social studies forms a part of the core curriculum. However, the traditional content of history, geography, civics, economics, etc., is covered in the sequential organisation of the subject matter. Some teachers continue to teach individual social sciences in the name of social studies. Various commissions, committees and policy formulations have clarified the purpose of teaching social studies but in practice the old segmented type ( of teaching continues in most schools, barring some innovative schools. Hence, there is a need to develop awareness among prospective teachers as well as those already teaching about social studies as a significant part of the school curriculum.

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