Meaning of Social Studies


Meaning of Social Studies

Social Studies is the study of man and his environment. It focuses on making us understand the interrelationship between man and his environment. It can be described as a subject that studies the way man lives in his physical and social environment. It is about how man influences his environment and how this environment, in turn, influences him.

Scope of Social Studies

Basically, scope of Social Studies entails man, his environment (physical environment and social environment) as well as science and technology which man uses to make his environment suitable or conducive for him. It also entails the fact that Social Studies is an integrated subject.

Dimensions of Social Studies

Man: In Social Studies, ‘when we say man’ we simply mean human beings – you and I. It refers to human beings anywhere in the world: male or female, black or white.

Man’s Environment: Environment refers to the totality of things and fellow human beings around man. There are two types of environment: physical environment and social environment.

(a) Physical Environment: Physical environment refers to those physical things (or non-humans) around man. Examples are land, river, water, car, building etc. They are natural or man-made objects in our environment that we can see, feel or touch. Physical environment can be divided into Natural Environment and Artificial Environment.

(i) Natural physical environments: These are things provided by God or nature. These include:

  • Water bodies: lagoons, lakes, rivers, oceans, seas, streams etc.
  • Relief: plains, lowlands, valleys, highlands, mountains etc.
  • Climate: temperature, sunshine, wind, rainfall, humidity etc.
  • Vegetation: forests, grasslands, deserts etc.


Natural Features of Man’s Environment

(ii) Man-made/artificial environment: These are things made by man in the environment which include roads, houses, factories, hospitals, etc.

(b) Social Environment: Social environment means the various avenues through which man interacts with other human beings in his environment. It refers to the culture, group of individuals and institutions with whom a person interacts institution. The institutions man interacts with include family institution, educational institutions political institutions, religious institutions, marriage institution, legal institutions and economic institutions.

(c) Science and Technology: Man has been able to influence his environment through science and technology. Science is a systematically-organized body of knowledge that has been deliberately developed by man to tackle man’s problems or improve his living condition. Technology is the correct application of science to solve human problems. Through science and technology, man has devised tools/machines, tarred roads, constructed bridges, drainages, dams or buildings, etc.

In summary, Social studies as a subject is the integration of many subjects such as history, geography, sociology, economics and government.

(i) Economics: This area deals with the way of living and managing resources in the society.

(ii) Religion: This area deals with man’s relationship with God his creator.

(iii) Sociology: This is an aspect that deals with man’s relationship with others in the society.

(iv) Psychology: This area deals with how man’s mind influences his behaviour in his society.

(v) Geography: This aspect deals with man’s surrounding environment.

(vi) Political Science: This aspect deals with how man is governed in the society.


Issues examined by Social Studies

(i) How to solve problems such as corruption, bad leadership, drug abuse and crimes.

(ii) How to vote during elections.

(iii) How they can produce enough food for everyone to eat.

(iv) How people can work together without conflict.

(v) Why laws should be obeyed.


Interaction between Man and the Environment

Social Studies seeks to make us understand the interactions between man and his environment. Man’s environment influences him. For example, the physical environment influences the types of crops he plants, the type of food he eats, the type of clothes he wears, etc. Social environment also influences his cultural practices, his religion, marriage, etc.

Man, especially through science and technology, influences his environment in many ways. For instance, he cultivates the land for his food and earns a living; he explores the seas and the rivers for fishing, and he taps natural resources both for his personal use and to earn a living.


Reasons for Teaching/Studying Social Studies

The topic “Reasons for Teaching /Studying Socials Studies” is the same as “Importance of Social Studies”. Hence, the importance of Social Studies include:

  1. It gives us the knowledge of our environment.
  2. It checks our negative attitudes towards our environment.
  3. It makes us understand our social system and how the negative/positive attitude of man influences the environment.
  4. It gives us the knowledge of other cultures to have a better relationship.
  5. It makes us to understand that we have contributions to make towards the sustenance of our society.
  6. It is a subject that teaches us to understand the customs and values of our society.



  1. What is Social Studies?
  2. Highlight issues examined by Social Studies.
  3. Mention the two main environments of man.
  4. With the aid of a diagram, describe the dimensions of Social Studies.
  5. Enumerate five reasons for studying Social Studies.
  6. List five subjects that were taught separately and later integrated into Social Studies.


See also






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