Current Definitions of Social Studies 2022

Current Definitions of Social Studies 2022
Current Definitions of Social Studies 2022

Current Definitions of Social Studies 2022



To understand social studies as a subject in schools, it is useful to look at the history of its introduction. Most educational historians consider social studies to be an American invention and its origins as a subject can be traced back to the early twentieth century in the United States (US) (Roldao & Egan, 1992;

Ravitch, 2003). A 1916 bulletin titled The Social Studies in Secondary Education was published by the US Bureau of Education and is viewed as seminal in the development of social studies in the US, and then ultimately around the world (M. Nelson, 1988). History, which was already a subject taught in schools in the US, was then integrated into social studies during the 1930s, alongside content from geography and civics. Consequently, history subject content has driven much of social studies content and approach in many contexts.

Following the publication of the 1916 bulletin, social studies became increasingly widespread within education in the US. The global influence that the US had meant that social studies as a school subject also spread to numerous countries, often replacing or combining other subject areas. That said, much of the research on social studies education has been and remains US-centric (Parry, 1999).

This global trend of social studies adoption is illustrated by a comparative study of social science subjects in jurisdictions across the world during the period 1900– 86 (Wong, 1991). This study looked at the presence of social science subjects in

the curricula (which they defined as history, geography, civics and social studies), grouped into time periods. It found that 11 per cent (of 47 countries) had social studies as a subject in their curricula in the period 1920–44; increasing to 60 per cent (of 77 countries) in the period 1970–86. There was also a corresponding decrease in history (81 per cent to 47 per cent), geography (87 per cent to 47 per cent) and civics (40 per cent to 27 per cent) subjects, illustrating that social studies had replaced these subjects in many contexts.

Social studies are the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provide coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences.

The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

One meaning of the word social refers to humans interacting. By definition, then, social studies can be thought of as a study of humans interacting. Social studies is not simply a body of knowledge or a set of skills. Instead, social studies is the process of using knowledge and skills to study humans as they interact in local, national, and world communities.

Current Definitions of Social Studies 2022

  • Edinyang and Mezieobi (2013) defined social studies as an integrated field of study that probes man’s environmental relationships and imbues man with high-level intellectual skills, social skills and competencies germane to solving man’s environmental diverse problems for better and effective living.
  • According to Osakwe (2013), Social Studies is a course of study that studied human beings in the various capacity of their interaction with their fellow counterpart
  • According to Akpochato (2013) Social study is a subject that fosters a new and integrated approach aimed at resolving societal and environmental issues.
  • Osakwe (2014) defines social studies education as “an integrated field of study that attempts to study man in-dept within the ramification of his dynamic environments as well as equipping him with positive knowledge, attitudes, values, and skills for purpose of producing competent, humane and effective citizenry who can contribute positively to the good of the society”.
  • Njok and Sunday(2014) posited that social studies is an interdisciplinary subject that enables the learners to acquire a wide knowledge of the surrounding complex phenomena and forces that influence man in his society.
  • Social study is a program of study that a society uses to instill in students or learners the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions it considers important in the relationships human beings have with each other, their world, and themselves Mezieobi, Ossai, and Young (2013).
  • Ezegbe maintains that social studies education has a primary objective of helping to produce good citizens who are of great benefit to the Nigerian society.
  • However, Famwang (2013) defined Social Studies as a subject dealing with human groups – people and their environment – the world over. They stated that Social Studies covers the nature and functions of these human groups; through their structure, organization, and their interactions within the environment, though Social Studies derived its content from the Social Sciences and other related subjects, like anthropology, economics, sociology, social psychology, political science, geography and history among others, it’s not exactly these subject.
  • They further agreed that Social Studies, as a subject, goes beyond factual knowledge of these subjects. It is intended to present questions, concepts, Issues, generalizations, and problems that would be challenging not only to the students but to the entire citizenry.
  • Danladi (2015), defined social studies as the parts of the school’s general education program which is concerned with the preparation of the citizens for participation in a democratic society.

Current Definitions of Social Studies 2022


Social studies has various  definitions because,  there is much variation in what is included within social studies curricula (Hayward et al., 2018; Hughes et al., 2020; Brant et al., 2016). There are different approaches to balancing knowledge and skills, with some social studies curricula also including values or dispositions (Hughes et al., 2020).


Akpochafo, W. P. (2013). Are best pedagogical practices in social studies really the best? A lead paper presented at the 29th National Conference of Social Studies Educators Association of Nigeria (SOSCEAN) at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, 15th – 19th July, 2013.

Danladi, E. N. (ed.) (2015). Social studies perspectives in Nigeria 1 Nimo: Rex Charles and Patrick Limited.

Edinyang, C; and Mezieobi, T. (2013). Poor Rural Neighbourhoods and Early School Achievement. Journal of Poverty, 6.89-108

FAMWANG W.V Ph.D Uyo. (2013). Social Studies education and the Nigerian society. Institute of Education, University of Jos.

Mezieobi DI, Ogaugwu, L.N. Ossai, J.N. And Young S.C (2013). Agenda for A Transformation Implementation Of Social Studies Curriculum In Nigeria University. Development Country Student 3(12), 100-104

Njok, P.C. And Sunday D.E (2014), Socio-Cultural Factors Affecting The Teaching And Learning Of Social In Nigeria. Journal Of Education And Practice. 5 (24), ISSN 2222-1735.

Obed D, (2019). Addressing Current Controversial Issues through the Social Studies Curriculum: Making Social Studies Come Alive. European Journal of Educational Studies 1(1), 25-34

Osakwe, E. (2014). Social Studies and Integrated National Development in Nigeria. Ibadan: Kraft Book Limited.

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