Let us make an in-depth study of economics as a social science.
The term Social Science refers any subject that deals with human behaviour. Political Science, Psychology, Ethics, etc. come within the definition of Social Science.
Economics is a social science because it deals with one aspect of human behaviour, viz., how men deal with problems of scarcity. Samuelson says that Economics is “the queen of the social sciences”.
Economics deals with human beings living in a society, i.e., in a large group of persons with touching interests and problems. It does not deal with problems of solitary individuals like Robinson Crusoe. In a community of people everybody is influenced by the actions of the others.
Economics deals with the activities of people, living in an organised community or society, in so far as such activities are related to the earning and use of wealth or with the problems of scarcity, choice and exchange. Economics is, therefore, considered to be a branch of sociology which is a study of the history and nature of society. As a consequence of this we find that economics is closely related to the other social sciences like Ethics, Political Science, and History etc.
Is Economics a Science?
The answer to this question is ‘yes and no’. Economics can never be an exact science, and is a different kind of discipline to, say, physics or chemistry. The essence of science is prediction. Physical ‘laws’ tell us what we believe must happen. If you drop a pencil out of an upstairs window, the known laws of physics predict that it must falls to the ground.
If ever a pencil flew vertically upwards, then physicists would have to look again at those laws in order to accommodate this new possibility. One thing that would not enter the discussion would be the possibility that the pencil ‘decided’ to fly upwards, and here is where the ‘laws’ of economics are very different from the ‘laws’ of physics. Economics is a social science, which means that it studies aspects of human behaviour.
The usefulness and importance of the Science of Economics in social and individual life is beyond measure. The impact of Economics in social life is further stressed by awarding the Nobel Prize on this subject from 1969. The 1998 prize was given to Prof. Amartya Sen and the 1999 prize to R. Mundell.