Negotiating the ‘Social’ in Elementary School Social Science

Social science in the current 10+2 school system commences in Class 6. Typically, when one talks of the social sciences as an academic discipline(s), one has in mind varied fields of study spanning sociology, anthropology, political science and economics among others. However, to a school student, the term “social science” (sometimes “social studies”) essentially refers to the study of history, geography, and civics or social and political life (SPL). The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) social science textbooks are structured such that the subject is introduced in this trimurti (trifurcated) avatar from Class 6 onwards and continuing until Class 8. At first sight, there appears to be some dissonance in terms of what comprises social science at the university level as opposed to the school level. Trifurcation of Social Sciences Why does history figure as a “social science” at the school level when it typically constitutes a separate academic department at the university level? Further, history’s lineage as an academic discipline is far older than that of social science, and subsuming an older discipline into a far younger one seems to be counterintuitive. One way to resolve this debate is perhaps by referring to what C Wright Mills (1959: 4) states in The Sociological Imagination:

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