A small group of focused individuals with healthy minds is enough to change the world. Never doubt this. Do you like assisting people in general? Are you sociable and helpful? Do you find yourself helping your friends out, whenever, however? When you grow up, would you be interested in crafting a more sustainable future for us all and not just your friends? Can you help people in understanding and imagining this future? Imagining is the most important deed of all as only that can ensure our progress toward it. Our planet today is ridden with several impoverishments. Will you consider yourself responsible enough to get us away from a terrible future by securing the present? You can help in multiple ways as a Social Scientist to alleviate problems like environmental changes or sufferings of the elderly or maybe even a worldwide pandemic. Don’t wait. Let us explore who Social Scientists are, what they do, how they do it, and how to become one.
Social Scientists are engaged in studying, assessing, and researching about as well as resolving challenges concerning one or more complex aspects of our societies (local, national, regional, and global)– such as the welfare of the elderly, environmental changes, inequality among people, economic & political turmoil, movement of people (migration), social development, human rights, international relations, criminal justice, religion & traditions, demography/ population studies, tribal welfare, the military systems, natural disasters, epidemics, and so on. They have several contributions to make such as devising ways to mitigate social trauma (suffering) or preventing social issues or finding solutions to introduce a happier & healthier way of being applicable to different cultures of societies.
Why become a Social Scientist?
As a Social Scientist, you will be studying, assessing, and researching about as well as resolving challenges concerning one or more complex aspects of our societies (local, national, regional, and global)– such as the welfare of the elderly, environmental changes, inequality among people, economic & political turmoil, movement of people (migration), social development, human rights, international relations, criminal justice, religion & traditions, demography/ population studies, tribal welfare, the military systems, natural disasters, epidemics, and so on.
These are some of the many areas where you can work as a Social Scientist. You will have several contributions to make such as devising ways to mitigate social trauma (suffering) or preventing social issues or finding solutions to introduce a happier & healthier way of being applicable to different cultures of societies. Let us take up some of the most prominent & interesting challenges in the current scenario.
Example 1 – Helping our Seniors
You must know that with the exponential advancement in medical and healthcare sciences as well as in engineering, the individual life expectancies of us Homo sapiens (the current occupants of this planet) have increased manifold.
This has led to an increased population of the elderly. Japan has a staggering volume of the aged and has an inverted age pyramid (populations of age groups)! The top of an age pyramid indicates the elderly and the base indicates lower ages.
Social Gerontology is the academic field concerning the social aspect of growing old and the welfare of the elderly. Social Scientists are in great demand to apply their expertise in improving support services for the elderly by educating, researching, and advancing the broader causes of older people.
They play a crucial role, facilitating absolute handholding, in helping seniors achieve what they call ‘active aging’ by coming up with exciting programs, initiatives, and services to assist their physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional well-being. Their work can also influence laws and policies that affect the way society perceives and treats our seniors.
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Example 2 – The Curious Case of Personoids
Then humanoids or personoids (human-like robots or human intelligence inside computers/ software or humans with capabilities enhanced by artificial intelligence or robotic technologies- whatever you can think of), when they become real in another couple of decades (they will certainly do), will have to be taught everything about how humans behave in groups, how our societies work or what kinds of problems our societies have, how they understand a language on a context, how they explain things with different words, how humans emote & behave, etc. This is because, to be part of human societies, they have to have this knowledge so that their communication and interactions with humans become effective and free of conflicts.
Understand that this knowledge, at least some basic knowledge about these, have to be built into the fully or partially artificial personoids or they should be taught through interactions. Social Scientists are working to structure and build such knowledge now and they will be called in for training or teaching in the future.
Example 3 – There will still be humans
With these world-shattering innovations and transformations in our lives, as we know it, we will be rendered completely unable to cope with the adjustments that will be needed in us (those who are still completely human or partially human), in order to use these technologies, wherever it may be, in all places where active human life takes some form.
Like say, a park while taking a stroll or playing professional games or at the office doing work or in school/ college studying, or say if we participate in a parade or while watching television or listening to music (if at all television or music remain the way we know it now)! Currently, we cannot completely imagine what transformations may be brought about to which social aspect of our lives.
Because our societies will be transforming radically, working people (remember not just office, maybe students or others too) will also require mental & physical aid for readjusting to a new transformed life.
We may have super-extended abilities too which we will have to use frequently in the years to come, say, detachable wings to get to the office! Today, extended abilities are just limited to office software and little tiny bits of automated gadgets, etc. Behold the future!
Every innovation which is utilized across societies for a purpose by several thousands of users has complex social aspects which can be addressed by Social Scientists. Social Scientists will have to theorize how to deal with the implementation of artificial intelligence or such extended abilities.
Example 4 –What when disease strikes?
Say when the recent public health emergency caused due to the spread of the new type of Coronavirus (n-CoV) from China had impacted the welfare of civilians tremendously, even across national boundaries as the virus spread via air as well as asymptomatically (a person may spread without being ill but while carrying the virus).
The response measures that are being implemented have varying social effects on citizens and these measures vary from country to country. Social Scientists study the differential effects of these measures on citizens across different demographics amongst the population targeted. Response measures create differences and social inequalities too.
Social Scientists may also propose suitable counter-balancing ideas & collaborative efforts involving even the international community to mitigate these social inequalities. Social Scientists, if involved, can play a crucial role in containing and managing such outbreaks. Medical interventions are as essential as social interventions for coordinating corrective action internationally.
Example 5 – Where Art Thou Headed
Let us consider another example of the academic study of people migrating from one place to another. Social Scientists may be Migration Scholars too. Migration Scholars specialize in the academic study of human migration (size, structure, and distribution of migrant populations) or the movement of people across or within transnational boundaries, spanning different cultures and traditions.
They may specialize in archaeological studies focusing on early human migration flows, the spread of civilization, and the development of trade routes & settlements. They may study how migration flows interact with literature & the arts or how cities & migrant populations interact or the economic results of migration.
They may work on issues involving undocumented and globally minor populations. They may also scrutinize the behavior of certain nation-state governments which criminalize migrant populations. They may deal with how migrants are frequently treated as criminals, deviants, and security risks by certain nation-states.
Popular Specialization in Political Scientist Career
- Social Scientist (Applied / Public Sociology): Applied Sociologists use their research findings as well as sociological theory to resolve real-life problems in the ongoing activities contained within applied or practical settings, like offices, parks, schools, and other places where daily life takes place. Research is the foundation of applied sociology. Sociological Practice is a more appropriate term. Applied Sociologists / Social Scientists use sociological theory, methods & skills to collect and analyze data, communicate their findings, and understand & resolve social problems.
- Social Scientist (Defense Studies): Social Scientists may specialize in defense studies which is an interdisciplinary research area, considering basic palynological (description, analysis & prediction of political behavior), communicological (how we create & use messages to affect our social environment), and sociological findings. They are experts in the field of national & international security, teamwork, conflict resolution, and strategic thinking. They study social dimensions of security, defense, military, and peace in the contemporary world.
- Social Scientist (Comparative Sociology): Comparative Sociologists study the comparison of the social processes between nation-states, or across different types of society (for example capitalist and socialist). Some seek similarities across different countries and cultures. This field may be more appropriately called cross-national research, as essentially all sociological analyses are comparative.
- Social Scientist (Women’s Studies): Social Scientists specializing in this area draw on feminist & interdisciplinary methods in order to place women’s lives and experiences at the center of their study. They examine social and cultural constructs of gender; systems of privilege & oppression; and the relationships between power & gender as they intersect with other identities such as race, socio-economic class, and disability.
- Social Scientist (International Studies): Social Scientists specializing in International Studies focus on the major political, economic, social, & cultural issues that dominate the international and national boundaries. They have to study politics, economics, and law on a global level. They have a profound contemporary & historical understanding of global societies, cultures, languages & systems of government, and of the complex relationships between them.
- Computational Sociologist: Computational Sociologists specialize in computationally intensive methods (like software to analyze research data) to analyze and model social phenomena. They use computer simulations, artificial intelligence, complex statistical and mathematical tools, etc. to develop and test social theories.
- Social Scientist (Criminology): Social Scientists specializing in Criminology deal with the scientific study of the nature, extent, management, causes, control, consequences, & prevention of criminal behavior, both on an individual as well as social levels. Criminologists often look for behavioral patterns of a possible criminal. They also conduct research & investigations, developing theories and composing results, and often solving crimes.
- Social Scientist (Rehabilitation Science): Social Scientists specializing in Rehabilitation Therapy & Science work with people to help them restore normal day-to-day physical functionalities, mental abilities, and work-life after a debilitating illness, accidental injuries, surgeries, imprisonment, or addiction. They also deal with people having disabilities who need to develop physical and mental abilities to lead a normal, healthy work life.
- Migration Scholar: Migration Scholars specialize in the academic study of human migration (size, structure, and distribution of migrant populations) or the movement of people across or within transnational boundaries, spanning different cultures and traditions. They may specialize in archaeological studies focusing on early human migration flows, the spread of civilization, and the development of trade routes & settlements. They may study how migration flows interact with literature and the arts or how cities & migrant populations interact or the economic results of migration. They may work on issues involving undocumented populations. They may also scrutinize the behavior of certain nation-state governments which criminalize migrant populations.
- Social Scientist (Cultural Sociology): Cultural Sociologists specialize in the analysis of culture. They research and analyze how cultural aspects, that describe the way of life of a person, affect human connections. They study class systems, caste systems, customs, traditions, language, religion, artifacts, etc. in cultural sociology.
- Social Scientist (Demography & Population Studies): Social Scientists specializing in Demography & Population Studies focuses on the study of population with respect to the environment, geography & climate or with respect to race by taking into consideration of mortality, fertility, birth rate, life expectancy, marriage traditions like polygamy, health, and genes, etc.
- Social Scientist (Environmental Sociology): Environmental Sociologists specialize in the study of interactions between societies and their natural environments. They study how social factors can influence environmental resource management how social factors can cause environmental issues and how society responds to these problems.
- Social Scientist (Youth Studies): Social Scientists specializing in Youth Studies is devoted to the study of the development, history, culture, psychology, and politics of youth. They not only study specific cultures of young people but also their relationships, roles & responsibilities throughout the larger societies. Studies in this area particularly encourage the understanding of experiences that are predominantly manifested among young people, generalized phenomena as well as social change.
- Social Scientist (Human Ecology): Human Ecologists specialize in the study of the relationship between humans and their natural and social environment. They study the role of social, cultural, and psychological factors that maintain the ecosystem. They also study the effect of population density on health, social organization, and environmental quality.
- Social Scientist (Energy Studies): Social Scientists specializing in Energy Studies examines the relationship between energy systems and society. They focus on a range of topics revolving around the intersection of energy technologies, fuels, and resources on one side; and social processes and influences – including communities of energy users, people affected by energy production, social institutions, customs, traditions, behaviors, and policies – on the other. They are interested in the social aspects of energy production or use, as well as sometimes policymaking.
- Social Scientist (Industrial Sociology): Industrial Sociologists are the experts who specialize in the study of trends in technological change, globalization, work organization, managerial practices, and employment and how these trends are affecting the changing pattern of inequality in modern societies. They study the effect of industry and its factors on human relations, human society, families, and social order.
- Social Scientist (Folklore Studies): Social Scientists may specialize in Folklore Studies. Folklore means the traditional expressive culture shared within various groups: familial, ethnic, occupational, religious or regional. They study a wide range of creative & symbolic forms of expression such as custom, belief, technical skill, language, literature, art, architecture, music, play, dance, drama, ritual, pageantry, and handicraft among these social groups. ‘Folk’ was traditionally applied only to rural, frequently poor and illiterate may be the peasant classes. However, contemporarily the word relates to a social group that includes two or more persons with common traits, who express their shared identity through distinctive traditions.
- Social Scientist (Military Sociology): Military Sociologists are experts who specialize in the study of the military as a social group. They study civil-military relations, life after military duty, military as a profession, etc., and how these factors are affecting social relations within the military and outside the military.
- Social Scientist (Water Resource Policies): Social Scientists may specialize in the policy-making processes that affect the collection, preparation, use, and disposal of water to support human uses and protect environmental quality. They address provision, use, disposal & sustainability decisions concerning water resources extensively or scarcely used by particular social groups, broad regions as well as cross-national locations.
- Social Scientist (Political Sociology): Political sociologists specialize in the study of political factors like the state, civil society, family, citizenships, and social-political movement through sociological analysis. They study, why particular classes, castes, groups of people, and nationalities vote or do not vote. They study how certain class, a caste of people has been popular in politics, what makes cast-based politics in India, etc.
- Social Scientist (Disaster Management): Social Scientists may specialize in disaster management which is a field within social science devoted to learning about the types of disasters, the social vulnerabilities, the social consequences, and planning & control of extreme weather-related or geophysical or similar events such as earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, oceanic waves, epidemics or pandemics (such as diphtheria/ flu/ influenza, etc.).
- Social Scientist (Rural Sociology): Rural Sociologists specialize in the study of social structure and conflict in rural areas. They study rural health care, rural education policies, rural cultures, etc.
- Social Scientist (Human Rights): Social Scientists concerned with the field of human rights are primarily devoted to humans’ inherent qualities, their responsibilities in democratic societies, and their rights as individuals and as group members. ‘Human rights’ as an academic domain deals with the fundamental freedoms to which all men & women, everywhere in the world, are entitled to, without any discrimination. They study about the significance of individuals’ rights with respect to different constitutions and the relationship between human rights and public goods and they are also engaged in the promotion of said rights.
- Social Scientist (Sociology of Religion): Social Scientists specializing in the Sociology of Religion attempts to conceptualize the place of religion in everyday life. They use various sociological methods (e.g., participant observation, in-depth interviews, surveys) to interrogate religious phenomena, practices, and trends empirically. They apply their knowledge of important theoretical frameworks (e.g., interactionism, conflict theory, secularization theory). They investigate “lived religion” both over time and amid contemporary contexts.
- Social Gerontologist: Social Scientists working in the field of social gerontology work with older adults for educating, researching, and advancing the broader causes of older people. They play a crucial role in helping seniors achieve active aging by coming up with exciting programs, initiatives, and services to assist their physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional well-being. Their work can influence agencies & organizations that serve older people, as well as the law and policies that affect the way society perceives and treats our seniors.
- Social Scientist (Urban Sociology): Urban Sociologists specialize in the study of life and human interaction in cities and urban areas. They study the structures, environmental processes, changes, and problems of an urban area and by doing so provide inputs for urban planning and policy-making.
What does a Political Scientist do?
You will be engaged in one or more of the following roles and responsibilities as well as other associated duties:
- You will plan and conduct research to develop and test theories about societal issues such as group relations, poverty, crime, religion, natural resource management, youth/ gender issues, natural aging, etc.
- You will collect data about the attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in groups, using observation, interviews, and review of documents.
- You will screen potential subjects to determine their suitability as study participants.
- You will develop, implement, and evaluate methods of data collection, such as questionnaires or interviews.
- You will administer standardized tests to research subjects or interview them to collect research data.
- You will observe group interactions and roles to collect data, identify problems, evaluate progress, and determine the need for additional change.
- You will conduct internet-based & library research; you will prepare, manipulate, and manage extensive databases and perform descriptive analyses of data, using specific technical computer software.
- You will consult with and advise individuals such as administrators, social workers, and legislators regarding social issues and policies, as well as the implications of research findings.
- You will prepare tables, graphs, fact sheets, and written reports summarizing research results.
How to become a Social Scientist – Eligibility Criteria
To get into this field, you need to complete Class 10 all subjects as per the scheme of studies. Then you have to complete Class 11-12 with any subject as per the scheme of studies.
- After Class 11-12:
- You can go for a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/ Social Science/ Social Studies / Sociology and Media / English & Sociology / Social Science / Applied Social Science / Human & Social Sciences/ Health & Social Science or similar disciplines
- You can study for a Bachelor’s / Master’s / Doctoral degree in any of the following fields (Note that all these fields may not offer you a degree at all three levels, that is in Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral. Some fields may offer a degree only at the Master’s or at the Doctoral level):
- Social Science
- Applied Sociology
- Comparative Sociology
- Computational Sociology
- Cultural Sociology
- Community Science and Studies
- Consumer Sciences & Studies
- Development Studies
- Disaster Management
- Energy Studies
- Folklore and Culture Studies
- Gender Studies
- Globalization Studies
- Human Rights
- International Studies
- Labor Studies
- Population Studies
- Psycho-Social Rehabilitation
- Regional Cultural and Community Studies
- Rehabilitation Science
- Sustainability Studies
- Urban Policy and Development
- Water Policies
- Women’s Studies
- Youth Studies and Development
- Environmental Sociology
- Family Studies
- Human Ecology
- Human Services
- Industrial Sociology
- Military Sociology
- Political Sociology
- Rural Sociology
- Sociology of Religion
- Urban Sociology
The cost of studying Social Sciences in India can vary depending on various factors such as the type of institution, course duration, level of study, location, and other additional expenses.
For example, studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at a government-funded university may cost around INR 10,000-50,000 per year, whereas studying in a private institution may cost around INR 50,000-2,00,000 per year. Similarly, studying for a Master’s degree in Social Sciences may cost around INR 20,000-1,50,000 per year, and a Ph.D. program may cost around INR 10,000-2,00,000 per year.
These costs are approximate and may vary depending on the specific institution and course. Additionally, other expenses such as accommodation, transportation, books, and living expenses should also be considered while estimating the total cost of studying Social Sciences in India.
Before starting out with a permanent industrial role, you must look for volunteering opportunities with organizations and/or businesses while completing your education. This will help you develop the skills relevant to this industry. Such volunteering work opportunities exist with schools, community education, or social work departments, or with groups including young people, victims of crime or homeless people, etc.
If you start as a Program Intern / Project Intern or Extern or Trainee, then after completing your internship or traineeship you may rise to such positions as these.
- Applied Social Scientist
- Research Scientist-Social Science
- Policy Officer
- Survey Scientist
- Social Researcher
- Sustainability Science Researcher-Social Responsibility
- Well-Being Quantitative Researcher
- Community Development Worker
- International Aid/Development Worker
- Population Data Scientist
- Implementation Research Scientist
- Youth Worker
- Charity Officer
- People Research Scientist
- Family Support Worker
- Housing Manager/Officer
- Human Resources Officer
- Probation Officer
- Public Relations Officer
- Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
Typical employers include:
- Charitable, counseling, voluntary organizations/ NGOs
- Any government-owned corporations, ministries, or departments in central/ state governments such as transportation, health, agriculture, urban/ rural development, defense, treasury, labor, public services, education, etc.
- Media companies, marketing & PR firms
- Social & market research organizations, survey companies like Nielsen, etc. which conduct mass live data collection
- International policy-making and advisory organizations such as WHO, UN, International Food Policy Research Institute, IUCN, Organization for Economic & Co-operation Development, etc.
- Giant IT companies. These generally look for Doctorates though. Some are Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. for positions like Research Scientist, Sustainability Science Researcher, and Researcher – Social Media Collective. Here you will be expected to offer solutions with empirical & critical perspectives to complex socio-technical issues for these IT service providers and hardware manufacturing companies. You may be building analytical models and working with structured & unstructured data sets. You may participate in demographical and survey studies which help in crucial business decision-making.
- Experimentation-oriented analytics firms like Applied Predictive Technologies (which was acquired by MasterCard® recently)
- On the academic faculty of universities, research institutions, etc.
Salary of Social Scientist
At the entry-level jobs, after your post-graduation, you may expect to get about Rs. 20,000 – 25,000 or even more a month. In junior-level jobs (after 4-5 years of post-graduation), you can make about Rs. 25,000 – 50,000 or more per month.
In mid-level jobs in India, you can expect to earn about Rs. 45,000 – 150,000 or even more a month.
In senior-level jobs in India, you can expect to earn about Rs. 90,000 – 4,50,000 or even more a month.
After a Master’s degree, a stipend in India while doing Ph.D. is about Rs. 35,000-38,000 a month in a university or research center or as a Research Associate with a salary of about Rs. 15,000-20,000 a month.
After a Ph.D., the stipend for Post-Doctoral Fellows in a research institution or university research center is Rs. 40,000-45,000 a month.
In other organizations/companies mostly after a Ph.D. or after a Post-Doctoral Fellowship, salaries in India may vary between Rs. 50,000-1,20,000 a month or even more.
As per the Government prescribed salary scales at colleges and universities:
- Assistant Professor Grade II: Rs 57700 to Rs 117200 per month
- Assistant Professor Grade I: Rs 101500 to Rs 204700 per month
- Associate Professor: Rs 139600 to Rs 211300 per month
- Professor: Rs 144200 to Rs 224100 per month
Professionals on the faculty of private establishments have varied ranges too:-
- Qualified Master’s: Rs. 20,000 – 35,000 per month or more
- Qualified Ph.D.: Rs. 45,000 – 85,000 per month or more
- Higher qualifications: Rs. 55,000 – 1,50,000 per month or more
Career Progression of Soil Scientist Profession
- Career growth in university and college begins with Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor, Professor, and Professor Emeritus. Professors can also get administrative positions such as Director/Dean/Vice Chancellor, etc.
- If you are hired as a research associate, then you will go on to become a Doctoral Research Fellow, then Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Progressive Grades.
- If you join the private industry in Research / Scientific or related roles, you may progress to the Senior Level, Lead -> Principal -> Chief levels, and then gradually move on to become Research Director or VP-Strategy, etc.
What do industry trends say – Future Prospects
Social sciences play an integral role in today’s globalized world. It is reported that 60% of global leaders graduated with a social science degree. With increasing impoverishment across nations in the world, Social Scientists are required to think creatively & independently in order to understand, scrutinize, and re-assess common perceptions of the social world.
With their cross-cultural understanding of the world, they are heavily in demand across industrial verticals to appreciate the complexity & diversity of social situations, make reasoned arguments, and apply different research methods, analysis & statistical techniques to develop opinions and new ideas on societal issues.
Tomorrow’s most important discoveries into why people do what they do will most likely come from business innovation than university research. The best & most rigorous social science experiments will be done for profit. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Alibaba, and scores of other global enterprises conduct literally thousands of experiments on their networks every day.
Many or most of these ‘socio-tech-experiments’ or “people analytics” yield marginal shifts in terms of increments in design. But with literally billions of measurable customers, client, & channel interactions a year, these could no doubt lead to profitably disruptive innovations too.
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