Difference Between History and Social Studies

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 29, 2023


Difference Between History and Social Studies

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


Education is surrounded by a wide number of academic fields and disciplines like political science, archaeology, humanities, architecture, history, psychology, social studies, and so on. History and social studies are also part of the academic fields. Both disciplines are regarded as compulsory subjects in many schools and universities as additional subjects. The human element is prevalent in history and social studies, and both are considered as matters of inquiry.

History is the study of life in the past in society, in all its aspects about present developments and future hopes. It is a series of past events that connect with something to make better future decisions. By studying history, we get the answers to the questions like, how we got where we are and why we live the way we do. It includes political, social, economic, scientific, technological, cultural, intellectual and religious developments.

On the contrary, social studies functions as a field of study that incorporates many different subjects. It is the study of man and his social and physical environments. Social studies deal with human behavior, relationships, institutions, and resources. It prepares students to fit well in society and boosts confidence in them to complete any task. It includes history, geography, economics, and government.

History vs. Social Studies

History is a discipline that studies the chronological record of events that happened in the past by critically examining source materials. It is traditionally centered on people, cultures, countries, and regions. History includes anything that can be either described or studied, like deaf history, the history of movies, the history of Saudi Arabia, the history of science, the history of Christianity, the history of tea, and many others. The study of history has been considered as a part of the humanities or a subject like literature. But in modern times, it has evolved as a social science. History can take the form of a story or a narrative filled with great personalities and their tales of struggle and victory. It teaches us, through examples and hints, to organize and manage our societies in a better way.

Social studies is a field that is a part of a school or college curriculum and studies society's social relationships and functioning. The aspects of the subject make it so important that it is always included in schools and colleges. Social studies include humanities subjects like geography, history, anthropology, economics, sociology, and political science. It deals with human behavior, relationships, resources, and institutions. Social studies aim to teach students to make them participate in society and become good citizens. It connects students with the real world by preparing them to interact with people of different cultures and communities. Social studies has no limit and has a wide range of core fields.

History and social studies are subjects or fields often confused as similar or the same. Although both have similar ways of study, they differ based on the scope, nature, and other parameters. It is important to study and take a look at the differences between the two.

Difference Between History and Social Studies in Tabular Form

Parameters of ComparisonHistorySocial Studies
DefinitionHistory focuses on the study of historical events by the human contributions and involvement of the people.Social studies focuses on the study of society as a whole and of individual human beings.
FormHistory is time-bound and is in chronological form.Social studies are not conformed in chronological form.
ScopeThe scope of history is to make students think about the actions of their ancestors.The scope of social studies is to make students aware of society or the world.
DisciplinesHistory is one of the disciplines that fall under the category of social studies.Social studies includes many disciplines under it like geography, economics, political science, and history.
Learning outcomeHistory develops the right attitudes in an individual.Social studies make an individual understand about economy and economic systems.
FocusHistory is limited to learning about happenings in a bygone area.Social studies has a broader focus on the world.
ExamplesExamples of history include historical events, historical maps, history books, fossils, etc.Examples of social studies include- civics, sociology, psychology, history, geography, etc.

What is History?

In simple words, history is the systematic study and documentation of past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of the period of the events. Historians use historical sources like written documents, oral accounts, art and material artifacts, and others to acquire knowledge related to the past. They also use narrative to explain the significance and causes of an event. History is regarded as a myth by many people. But it is not true. A myth is a false belief or idea, but history is not a belief but is a true event supported by verified evidence. The modern study of history is wide and involves historical investigations of the study of specific events. It is taught as a mandatory subject in many elementary and secondary schools and universities. Greek historian Herodotus is regarded as the father of history.

According to Benedetto Croce, "History is not science, because it is not knowledge of the universal but of the individual, just like art." Historical records are the events remembered and preserved in the form of authenticity. History is studied as a part of the humanities other than social sciences. In the 20th century, the Annales school revolutionized the study of history by using disciplines like economics, sociology, and geography to study global history. Historians have passed the information of the past either orally or in written form. They used monuments, scriptures, and pictures. History can be organized culturally, technologically, or chronologically in many ways.

According to historians, prehistory is the recovery of past knowledge in an area without written records. In the absence of written records, information can be obtained by studying paintings, drawings, carvings, and other artifacts. EH Carr states that "history is the process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past."

Some commonly recognized historical methodologies used by historians are:-

  1. Palaeography- Palaeography is the study of historical writings and manuscripts. It is used to determine whether a document is a forgery or not. For example- a person working in the field of palaeography would read a document by William Shakespeare to study the way of his writing letters not to study the content of his poems or plays.
  2. Diplomatics- Diplomatics is a scholarly discipline that focuses on the critical analysis of documents, especially historical documents. It studies records like bills, reports, registers, etc. For example- archaeologists discovered the first written diplomatic documents on clay tablets using cuneiform characters.
  3. Chronology- Chronology is the order in which a series of events happened. It studies how time is organized and divided about historical events. For example- a book providing a chronology of events that led to the American Civil War.
  4. Epigraphy- Epigraphy is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs in the form of writings. It generally offers information about personages and events in Indian history. For example- inscriptions of emperor Ashoka on the Pillars of Ashoka.

 Some of the renowned areas of history are:-

  • Intellectual History- Intellectual history is the study of the history of human thoughts and intellectuals. It believes in understanding different views of people, one on which an individual does not agree today. For example- Begriffsgeschichte by Reinhart Koselleck in continental Europe.
  • Diplomatic History- Diplomatic history is the study of the history of international relations between states. People who practice diplomacy are known as diplomats. For example- Armenian pilgrims were barred from crossing the border from Turkey into Armenia in 2001.
  • Public History- Public history is the use of historical methods and skills outside the academic settings. It enriches people's everyday lives and contributes to shaping personal and community meaning-making. For example- history museums, historical societies, public and private archives and collections.
  • European History- European history is the study of the cultures, societies, economy, and politics of Europeans in the past. It familiarizes an individual with the developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which we live today. For example- the Metal Ages, Greeks, Romans, and barbarians, etc.
  • Economic History- Economic history is the study of history using methodological tools from economics. It focuses on how resources are allocated across a market. For example- the economic development of nations, the growth of business enterprises, and the work-organisation.
  • Military History- Military history is the study of the history of armed conflicts in the history of humanity. It is the history of wars and armed forces in peace and war. For example- the Indian Armed Forces fought in all four wars against Pakistan and two wars against the People's Republic of China in 1962 and 1967.
  • History of Art- The history of art is the history of the study of the objects made by humans for any purpose. For example- Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, etc.
  • Other areas include archaeology, ancient history, cultural history, world history, social history, political history, environmental history, historiography, Middle Ages, history of religion, modern history, anthropology, African American history, and history of science. Some of the popular historians of all times are- Walter Ullmann, Marc Raeff, Muhammad ibn Ja'far al-Kattani, Felix Dahn, Raouf Abbas, Nicolas Zafra, Polybius, William of Malmesbury, and Joseph Needham.

What is Social Studies?

Social studies is the integrated medium of study of diverse fields together. It includes history, geography, and political science. It aims to integrate several disciplines with the use of unique methodologies and special focus of concentrations, especially at the level of higher education. Social studies trains students to participate in a diverse society.

 The field of social studies emerged in the 19th century and later grew in the 20th century. At that time, the purpose of the subject was to promote social welfare and awareness in countries like the United States and others. In 1900, in the United States, social studies revolved around geography, history, and government. In 1920, the contribution of the Committee on Social Studies for the subject culminated in the publication and the release of bulletin no. 28.

 It is important to understand that social studies is not a subject but a field of study that includes different subjects under. Apart from history, geography, economics, sociology, and civics, the elements of psychology, philosophy, literature, and art are also included in the field itself. To teach social studies in India, the individual should have the following requirements:-

  • A degree in history, geography, education, or any other related field.
  • Preferable master’s degree.
  • Relevant license or certification.
  • Excellent skills in communication and debate.
  • Ability to calm under pressure.
  • Knowledge of current events and strong multitasking abilities.
  • Strong sensitivity to culture.

 According to the National Council for the Social Studies, there are ten themes representing the standards of human experience:-

  • Culture- The study of culture examines the social beliefs, values, ethics, behaviors, institutions, and traditions of a group of people. For example- western culture, youth culture, counter-culture, and high culture.
  • Time, continuity, and change- The study of time, continuity, and change enables learners to understand their historical roots and to locate themselves in time.
  • People, places, and environment- It enables us to understand the relationship between human populations and the physical world.
  • Individual development and identity- It helps students to describe factors important to the development of personal identity.
  • Individuals, groups, and institutions- It prepares students to ask and answer questions like what is the role of institutions in this, how am I influenced by institutions, and how do institutions change?
  • Power, authority, and governance- It typically arrives in the units and courses dealing with government, politics, civics, history, and others.
  • Production, consumption, and distribution- It provides the study of how people organize the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
  • Science, technology, and society- It assumes scientific and technological developments to be socially constructed phenomena.
  • Global Connections- It encourages learners to build and maintain learning relationships with the students, teachers, schools, and experts from cultural and geographical contexts.
  • Civic ideals and practices- It introduces students to the essential principles of democracy.

Main Differences Between History and Social Studies (In Points)

  • History is the chronological record of past events in a systematic and organized way. Social studies functions as a field of study that studies society.
  • The word history is derived from the Greek word 'historia' which means inquiry, narrative, or account. On the other hand, the word social studies was coined in French by Mirabeau in 1767.
  • Herodotus is regarded as the father of history. In contrast, David Emile Durkheim is regarded as the father of social studies.
  • History develops international understanding among the countries. While social studies applies geographical reasoning.
  • History is a narrative account of past events. On the other hand, social studies is a scientific approach to the study of history.
  • A history teacher is like a storyteller who is fully immersed in the period of the teaching. Whereas a social studies teacher is distant and removed, treating the people and past events as an object to analyze.
  • History is presented in a sequence from the beginning of the human evolution. While social studies lacks order of the sequences.
  • History deals with the places to understand their historical importance. At the same time, social studies deals with places to understand it geographically, economically, historically, and politically.


In short, history and social studies are two different subjects taught in schools and universities. While history is a subpart of social studies that studies past events historically, social studies is a field that studies society in an economic, political, geographical, and historical way.


  • theclassicalclassroom.com
  • cram.com
  • historytoday.com


Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between History and Social Studies." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 20 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-history-and-social-studies>.

Edited by

Share this article