To the Social Science Majors…

Throughout the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized that those in social science concentrations like to speak in abstract language.

Even more so than literary critics. And yes, that seems almost impossible.

I don’t understand why historians need to bolster their articles and writings with pretentious writing that only serves to validate how they’re on a higher plane of intellect than the rest of us. (Okay, we get it, liberalism embellished the independence of society and the underlying hierarchy of common welfare as we know it. Next time, rewrite using ordinary language, please?)

Each week, our history class is required to post on our online class discussion forum. Usually people ask questions about the reading. But of course, instead of asking straight-to-the-point questions, they convolute their prose into Social Studies Slang.

What is the Social Studies Slang? See if you can figure it out by yourself first. Here are some examples.

To what extent are our social relations, and the roots of “individual freedom,” grounded in economic calculus and capitalistic progress?

As a math lover, I was disheartened to see the word calculus used in this context. Concrete math has become abstract theory. (Although technically, calculus math-wise is still pretty abstract.) (Wait… does this mean we can combine random words like Lewis Carroll did in Alice in Wonderland?)

 How were these racial stereotypes established in order to maintain the hierarchy or exclude the freedom rights conferred to individuals from certain groups?

One line summary in ordinary language: How did racism exclude peoples’ rights?

The advantages of some merchant suppliers appeared to deprive myriad small producers and consumers in the towns and countryside of similar opportunities for gain, and when the periodic profiteering became a habit which knew no restraint during wartime necessity and which, in post-revolutionary years, grew to a mania of speculation…

I think my AP Lang teacher back in high school would blow a gasket if she saw this in a student’s paper. No, seriously, whatever happened to “conciseness”?

However, I admit the Social Studies Slang is fun to use when you’re trying to impress someone at a fancy dinner party. (Or when you’re trying to fill up blank pages in an essay.) All you need to remember are the Four Golden Rules of Social Studies Slang:

  1. The more words the better.
  2. Never use short sentences, such as the one used above; instead, incorporate as many semicolons, commas, and other devices to join separate clauses, as embellishing sentences makes you seem erudite and informed.
  3. Always use abstract words that have multiple meanings. Prime favorites are government, the people, individualism, establishment, and society.
  4. This is not science writing. Do not get to the point of what you’re trying to say; instead, lead the reader through a maze of unnecessary detail. (Because history is so amazing, who doesn’t want to know every minuscule piece of information??)

One thought on “To the Social Science Majors…”

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    Posted on December 9, 2012

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