The social sciences are a group of academic disciplines that study human aspects of the world. They differ from the arts and humanities in that the social sciences tend to apply use of the scientific method in the study of humanity, including quantitative and qualitative methods.
The social sciences approach subjective, inter-subjective, interactive, systemic, and constructed aspects of society as empirically existent systems which can be objectively proven. However, are traditionally referred to as soft sciences. This is in contrast to hard sciences, such as the natural sciences, which may focus exclusively on systemic aspects of nature.
The word "science" is older than its modern use, which is as a short-form for "natural science". Uses of the word "science", in contexts other than those of the natural sciences, are historically valid, so long as they are describing an art or organized body of knowledge which can be taught objectively. The use of the word "science" is not therefore always an attempt to claim that the subject in question ought to stand on the same footing of inquiry as a natural science.
Ferdinand Tönnies (July 26, 1855, near Oldenswort (Eiderstedt, North Frisia) - April 9, 1936, Kiel, Germany) was a German sociologist. He was a major contributor to sociological theory and field studies, as well as bringing Thomas Hobbes back on the agenda, by publishing his manuscripts. He is best known for his distinction between two types of social groups — Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. He was, however, a prolific writer and also co-founder of the German Society for Sociology (being its president 1909-1933, when he was ousted by the Nazis). In English his name is often spelt without the umlaut as Ferdinand Toennies, as this spelling can also be accepted in German.
Tönnies, the first German sociologist proper, published over 900 works and contributed to many areas of sociology and philosophy. Many of his writings on sociological theories — including Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft (1887) — furthered pure sociology. He coined the term Voluntarism. Tönnies also contributed to the study of social change, particularly on public opinion, customs and technology, crime, and suicide. He also had a vivid interest in methodology, especially statistics, and sociological research, inventing his own technique of statistical association.