Anthropology is the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
Archaeology, which studies past human cultures through investigation of physical evidence, is thought of as a branch of anthropology in the United States and Canada, while in Europe, it is viewed as a discipline in its own right or grouped under other related disciplines, such as history.
The abstract noun anthropology is first attested in reference to history.[n 1] Its present use first appeared in Renaissance Germany in the works of Magnus Hundt and Otto Casmann. Their New Latin anthropologia derived from the combining forms of the Greek words ánthrōpos (ἄνθρωπος, "human") and lógos (λόγος, "study"). (Its adjectival form appeared in the works of Aristotle.) It began to be used in English, possibly via French Anthropologie, by the early 18th century.[n 2]
Anthropology, that is to say the science that treats of man, is divided ordinarily and with reason into Anatomy, which considers the body and the parts, and Psychology, which speaks of the soul.[n 3]
Sporadic use of the term for some of the subject matter occurred subsequently, such as the use by Étienne Serres in 1839 to describe the natural history, or paleontology, of man, based on comparative anatomy, and the creation of a chair in anthropology and ethnography in 1850 at the National Museum of Natural History (France) by Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau. Various short-lived organizations of anthropologists had already been formed. The Société Ethnologique de Paris, the first to use Ethnology, was formed in 1839. Its members were primarily anti-slavery activists. When slavery was abolished in France in 1848 the Société was abandoned.
Meanwhile, the Ethnological Society of New York, currently the American Ethnological Society, was founded on its model in 1842, as well as the Ethnological Society of London in 1843, a break-away group of the Aborigines' Protection Society. These anthropologists of the times were liberal, anti-slavery, and pro-human-rights activists. They maintained international connections.
Anthropology and many other current fields are the intellectual results of the comparative methods developed in the earlier 19th century. Theorists in such diverse fields as anatomy, linguistics, and Ethnology, making feature-by-feature comparisons of their subject matters, were beginning to suspect that similarities between animals, languages, and folkways were the result of processes or laws unknown to them then. For them, the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was the epiphany of everything they had begun to suspect. Darwin himself arrived at his conclusions through comparison of species he had seen in agronomy and in the wild.
Darwin and Wallace unveiled evolution in the late 1850s. There was an immediate rush to bring it into the social sciences. Paul Broca in Paris was in the process of breaking away from the Société de biologie to form the first of the explicitly anthropological societies, the Société d'Anthropologie de Paris, meeting for the first time in Paris in 1859.[n 4] When he read Darwin, he became an immediate convert to Transformisme, as the French called evolutionism. His definition now became "the study of the human group, considered as a whole, in its details, and in relation to the rest of nature".
Broca, being what today would be called a neurosurgeon, had taken an interest in the pathology of speech. He wanted to localize the difference between man and the other animals, which appeared to reside in speech. He discovered the speech center of the human brain, today called Broca's area after him. His interest was mainly in Biological anthropology, but a German philosopher specializing in psychology, Theodor Waitz, took up the theme of general and social anthropology in his six-volume work, entitled Die Anthropologie der Naturvölker, 1859–1864. The title was soon translated as "The Anthropology of Primitive Peoples". The last two volumes were published posthumously.
Waitz defined anthropology as "the science of the nature of man". By nature he meant matter animated by "the Divine breath"; i.e., he was an animist. Following Broca's lead, Waitz points out that anthropology is a new field, which would gather material from other fields, but would differ from them in the use of comparative anatomy, physiology, and psychology to differentiate man from "the animals nearest to him". He stresses that the data of comparison must be empirical, gathered by experimentation. The history of civilization, as well as ethnology, are to be brought into the comparison. It is to be presumed fundamentally that the species, man, is a unity, and that "the same laws of thought are applicable to all men".
Waitz was influential among the British ethnologists. In 1863 the explorer Richard Francis Burton and the speech therapist James Hunt broke away from the Ethnological Society of London to form the Anthropological Society of London, which henceforward would follow the path of the new anthropology rather than just ethnology. It was the 2nd society dedicated to general anthropology in existence. Representatives from the French Société were present, though not Broca. In his keynote address, printed in the first volume of its new publication, The Anthropological Review, Hunt stressed the work of Waitz, adopting his definitions as a standard.[n 5] Among the first associates were the young Edward Burnett Tylor, inventor of cultural anthropology, and his brother Alfred Tylor, a geologist. Previously Edward had referred to himself as an ethnologist; subsequently, an anthropologist.
Similar organizations in other countries followed: The Anthropological Society of Madrid (1865), the American Anthropological Association in 1902, the Anthropological Society of Vienna (1870), the Italian Society of Anthropology and Ethnology (1871), and many others subsequently. The majority of these were evolutionist. One notable exception was the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology, and Prehistory (1869) founded by Rudolph Virchow, known for his vituperative attacks on the evolutionists. Not religious himself, he insisted that Darwin's conclusions lacked empirical foundation.
During the last three decades of the 19th century, a proliferation of anthropological societies and associations occurred, most independent, most publishing their own journals, and all international in membership and association. The major theorists belonged to these organizations. They supported the gradual osmosis of anthropology curricula into the major institutions of higher learning. By 1898 the American Association for the Advancement of Science was able to report that 48 educational institutions in 13 countries had some curriculum in anthropology. None of the 75 faculty members were under a department named anthropology.
This meager statistic expanded in the 20th century to comprise anthropology departments in the majority of the world's higher educational institutions, many thousands in number. Anthropology has diversified from a few major subdivisions to dozens more. Practical anthropology, the use of anthropological knowledge and technique to solve specific problems, has arrived; for example, the presence of buried victims might stimulate the use of a forensic archaeologist to recreate the final scene. The organization has reached global level. For example, the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA), "a network of national, regional and international associations that aims to promote worldwide communication and cooperation in anthropology", currently contains members from about three dozen nations.
Since the work of Franz Boas and Bronisław Malinowski in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, social anthropology in Great Britain and cultural anthropology in the US have been distinguished from other social sciences by its emphasis on cross-cultural comparisons, long-term in-depth examination of context, and the importance it places on participant-observation or experiential immersion in the area of research. Cultural anthropology, in particular, has emphasized cultural relativism, holism, and the use of findings to frame cultural critiques. This has been particularly prominent in the United States, from Boas' arguments against 19th-century racial ideology, through Margaret Mead's advocacy for gender equality and sexual liberation, to current criticisms of post-colonial oppression and promotion of multiculturalism. Ethnography is one of its primary research designs as well as the text that is generated from anthropological fieldwork.
In Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, the British tradition of social anthropology tends to dominate. In the United States, anthropology has traditionally been divided into the four field approach developed by Franz Boas in the early 20th century: biological or physical anthropology; social, cultural, or sociocultural anthropology; and archaeology; plus anthropological linguistics. These fields frequently overlap but tend to use different methodologies and techniques.
European countries with overseas colonies tended to practice more ethnology (a term coined and defined by Adam F. Kollár in 1783). It is sometimes referred to as sociocultural anthropology in the parts of the world that were influenced by the European tradition.
Anthropology is a global discipline involving humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Anthropology builds upon knowledge from natural sciences, including the discoveries about the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens, human physical traits, human behavior, the variations among different groups of humans, how the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens has influenced its social organization and culture, and from social sciences, including the organization of human social and cultural relations, institutions, social conflicts, etc. Early anthropology originated in Classical Greece and Persia and studied and tried to understand observable cultural diversity. As such, anthropology has been central in the development of several new (late 20th century) interdisciplinary fields such as cognitive science, global studies, and various ethnic studies.
According to Clifford Geertz,
"anthropology is perhaps the last of the great nineteenth-century conglomerate disciplines still for the most part organizationally intact. Long after natural history, moral philosophy, philology, and political economy have dissolved into their specialized successors, it has remained a diffuse assemblage of ethnology, human biology, comparative linguistics, and prehistory, held together mainly by the vested interests, sunk costs, and administrative habits of academia, and by a romantic image of comprehensive scholarship."
Sociocultural anthropology has been heavily influenced by structuralist and postmodern theories, as well as a shift toward the analysis of modern societies. During the 1970s and 1990s, there was an epistemological shift away from the positivist traditions that had largely informed the discipline. During this shift, enduring questions about the nature and production of knowledge came to occupy a central place in cultural and social anthropology. In contrast, archaeology and biological anthropology remained largely positivist. Due to this difference in epistemology, the four sub-fields of anthropology have lacked cohesion over the last several decades.
Sociocultural anthropology draws together the principle axes of cultural anthropology and social anthropology. Cultural anthropology is the comparative study of the manifold ways in which people make sense of the world around them, while social anthropology is the study of the relationships among individuals and groups. Cultural anthropology is more related to philosophy, literature and the arts (how one's culture affects the experience for self and group, contributing to a more complete understanding of the people's knowledge, customs, and institutions), while social anthropology is more related to sociology and history. In that, it helps develop an understanding of social structures, typically of others and other populations (such as minorities, subgroups, dissidents, etc.). There is no hard-and-fast distinction between them, and these categories overlap to a considerable degree.
Inquiry in sociocultural anthropology is guided in part by cultural relativism, the attempt to understand other societies in terms of their own cultural symbols and values. Accepting other cultures in their own terms moderates reductionism in cross-cultural comparison. This project is often accommodated in the field of ethnography. Ethnography can refer to both a methodology and the product of ethnographic research, i.e. an ethnographic monograph. As a methodology, ethnography is based upon long-term fieldwork within a community or other research site. Participant observation is one of the foundational methods of social and cultural anthropology. Ethnology involves the systematic comparison of different cultures. The process of participant-observation can be especially helpful to understanding a culture from an emic (conceptual, vs. etic, or technical) point of view.
The study of kinship and social organization is a central focus of sociocultural anthropology, as kinship is a human universal. Sociocultural anthropology also covers economic and political organization, law and conflict resolution, patterns of consumption and exchange, material culture, technology, infrastructure, gender relations, ethnicity, childrearing and socialization, religion, myth, symbols, values, etiquette, worldview, sports, music, nutrition, recreation, games, food, festivals, and language (which is also the object of study in linguistic anthropology).
Comparison across cultures is a key element of method in sociocultural anthropology, including the industrialized (and de-industrialized) West. Cultures in the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS) of world societies are:
Biological anthropology and physical anthropology are synonymous terms to describe anthropological research focused on the study of humans and non-human primates in their biological, evolutionary, and demographic dimensions. It examines the biological and social factors that have affected the evolution of humans and other primates, and that generate, maintain or change contemporary genetic and physiological variation.
Archaeology is the study of the human past through its material remains. Artifacts, faunal remains, and human altered landscapes are evidence of the cultural and material lives of past societies. Archaeologists examine this material remains in order to deduce patterns of past human behavior and cultural practices. Ethnoarchaeology is a type of archaeology that studies the practices and material remain of living human groups in order to gain a better understanding of the evidence left behind by past human groups, who are presumed to have lived in similar ways.
Linguistic anthropology (not to be confused with anthropological linguistics) seeks to understand the processes of human communications, verbal and non-verbal, variation in language across time and space, the social uses of language, and the relationship between language and culture. It is the branch of anthropology that brings linguistic methods to bear on anthropological problems, linking the analysis of linguistic forms and processes to the interpretation of sociocultural processes. Linguistic anthropologists often draw on related fields including sociolinguistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, semiotics, discourse analysis, and narrative analysis.
One of the central problems in the anthropology of art concerns the universality of 'art' as a cultural phenomenon. Several anthropologists have noted that the Western categories of 'painting', 'sculpture', or 'literature', conceived as independent artistic activities, do not exist, or exist in a significantly different form, in most non-Western contexts. To surmount this difficulty, anthropologists of art have focused on formal features in objects which, without exclusively being 'artistic', have certain evident 'aesthetic' qualities. Boas' Primitive Art, Claude Lévi-Strauss' The Way of the Masks (1982) or Geertz's 'Art as Cultural System' (1983) are some examples in this trend to transform the anthropology of 'art' into an anthropology of culturally specific 'aesthetics'.
Media anthropology (also known as the anthropology of media or mass media) emphasizes ethnographic studies as a means of understanding producers, audiences, and other cultural and social aspects of mass media. The types of ethnographic contexts explored range from contexts of media production (e.g., ethnographies of newsrooms in newspapers, journalists in the field, film production) to contexts of media reception, following audiences in their everyday responses to media. Other types include cyber anthropology, a relatively new area of internet research, as well as ethnographies of other areas of research which happen to involve media, such as development work, social movements, or health education. This is in addition to many classic ethnographic contexts, where media such as radio, the press, new media, and television have started to make their presences felt since the early 1990s.
Ethnomusicology is an academic field encompassing various approaches to the study of music (broadly defined), that emphasize its cultural, social, material, cognitive, biological, and other dimensions or contexts instead of or in addition to its isolated sound component or any particular repertoire.
Visual anthropology is concerned, in part, with the study and production of ethnographic photography, film and, since the mid-1990s, new media. While the term is sometimes used interchangeably with ethnographic film, visual anthropology also encompasses the anthropological study of visual representation, including areas such as performance, museums, art, and the production and reception of mass media. Visual representations from all cultures, such as sandpaintings, tattoos, sculptures and reliefs, cave paintings, scrimshaw, jewelry, hieroglyphics, paintings, and photographs are included in the focus of visual anthropology.
Economic anthropology attempts to explain human economic behavior in its widest historic, geographic and cultural scope. It has a complex relationship with the discipline of economics, of which it is highly critical. Its origins as a sub-field of anthropology begin with the Polish-British founder of anthropology, Bronisław Malinowski, and his French compatriot, Marcel Mauss, on the nature of gift-giving exchange (or reciprocity) as an alternative to market exchange. Economic Anthropology remains, for the most part, focused upon exchange. The school of thought derived from Marx and known as Political Economy focuses on production, in contrast. Economic anthropologists have abandoned the primitivist niche they were relegated to by economists, and have now turned to examine corporations, banks, and the global financial system from an anthropological perspective.
Political economy in anthropology is the application of the theories and methods of Historical Materialism to the traditional concerns of anthropology, including, but not limited to, non-capitalist societies. Political economy introduced questions of history and colonialism to ahistorical anthropological theories of social structure and culture. Three main areas of interest rapidly developed. The first of these areas was concerned with the "pre-capitalist" societies that were subject to evolutionary "tribal" stereotypes. Sahlin's work on hunter-gatherers as the "original affluent society" did much to dissipate that image. The second area was concerned with the vast majority of the world's population at the time, the peasantry, many of whom were involved in complex revolutionary wars such as in Vietnam. The third area was on colonialism, imperialism, and the creation of the capitalist world-system. More recently, these political economists have more directly addressed issues of industrial (and post-industrial) capitalism around the world.
Applied anthropology refers to the application of the method and theory of anthropology to the analysis and solution of practical problems. It is a "complex of related, research-based, instrumental methods which produce change or stability in specific cultural systems through the provision of data, initiation of direct action, and/or the formulation of policy". More simply, applied anthropology is the practical side of anthropological research; it includes researcher involvement and activism within the participating community. It is closely related to development anthropology (distinct from the more critical anthropology of development).
Anthropology of development tends to view development from a critical perspective. The kind of issues addressed and implications for the approach simply involve pondering why, if a key development goal is to alleviate poverty, is poverty increasing? Why is there such a gap between plans and outcomes? Why are those working in development so willing to disregard history and the lessons it might offer? Why is development so externally driven rather than having an internal basis? In short, why does so much planned development fail?
Kinship can refer both to the study of the patterns of social relationships in one or more human cultures, or it can refer to the patterns of social relationships themselves. Over its history, anthropology has developed a number of related concepts and terms, such as "descent", "descent groups", "lineages", "affines", "cognates", and even "fictive kinship". Broadly, kinship patterns may be considered to include people related both by descent (one's social relations during development), and also relatives by marriage.
Feminist anthropology is a four field approach to anthropology (archeological, biological, cultural, linguistic) that seeks to reduce male bias in research findings, anthropological hiring practices, and the scholarly production of knowledge. Anthropology engages often with feminists from non-Western traditions, whose perspectives and experiences can differ from those of white European and American feminists. Historically, such 'peripheral' perspectives have sometimes been marginalized and regarded as less valid or important than knowledge from the western world. Feminist anthropologists have claimed that their research helps to correct this systematic bias in mainstream feminist theory. Feminist anthropologists are centrally concerned with the construction of gender across societies. Feminist anthropology is inclusive of birth anthropology as a specialization.
The first African-American female anthropologist and Caribbeanist is said to be Vera Mae Green who studied ethnic and family relations in the Caribbean as well as the United States, and thereby tried to improve the way black life, experiences, and culture were studied.
Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary field which studies "human health and disease, health care systems, and biocultural adaptation". It is believed that William Caudell was the first to discover the field of medical anthropology. Currently, research in medical anthropology is one of the main growth areas in the field of anthropology as a whole. It focuses on the following six basic fields:
- the development of systems of medical knowledge and medical care
- the patient-physician relationship
- the integration of alternative medical systems in culturally diverse environments
- the interaction of social, environmental and biological factors which influence health and illness both in the individual and the community as a whole
- the critical analysis of interaction between psychiatric services and migrant populations ("critical ethnopsychiatry": Beneduce 2004, 2007)
- the impact of biomedicine and biomedical technologies in non-Western settings
Other subjects that have become central to medical anthropology worldwide are violence and social suffering (Farmer, 1999, 2003; Beneduce, 2010) as well as other issues that involve physical and psychological harm and suffering that are not a result of illness. On the other hand, there are fields that intersect with medical anthropology in terms of research methodology and theoretical production, such as cultural psychiatry and transcultural psychiatry or ethnopsychiatry.
Nutritional anthropology is a synthetic concept that deals with the interplay between economic systems, nutritional status and food security, and how changes in the former affect the latter. If economic and environmental changes in a community affect access to food, food security, and dietary health, then this interplay between culture and biology is in turn connected to broader historical and economic trends associated with globalization. Nutritional status affects overall health status, work performance potential, and the overall potential for economic development (either in terms of human development or traditional western models) for any given group of people.
Psychological anthropology is an interdisciplinary subfield of anthropology that studies the interaction of cultural and mental processes. This subfield tends to focus on ways in which humans' development and enculturation within a particular cultural group – with its own history, language, practices, and conceptual categories – shape processes of human cognition, emotion, perception, motivation, and mental health. It also examines how the understanding of cognition, emotion, motivation, and similar psychological processes inform or constrain our models of cultural and social processes.
Cognitive anthropology seeks to explain patterns of shared knowledge, cultural innovation, and transmission over time and space using the methods and theories of the cognitive sciences (especially experimental psychology and evolutionary biology) often through close collaboration with historians, ethnographers, archaeologists, linguists, musicologists and other specialists engaged in the description and interpretation of cultural forms. Cognitive anthropology is concerned with what people from different groups know and how that implicit knowledge changes the way people perceive and relate to the world around them.
Transpersonal anthropology studies the relationship between altered states of consciousness and culture. As with transpersonal psychology, the field is much concerned with altered states of consciousness (ASC) and transpersonal experience. However, the field differs from mainstream transpersonal psychology in taking more cognizance of cross-cultural issues – for instance, the roles of myth, ritual, diet, and texts in evoking and interpreting extraordinary experiences.
Political anthropology concerns the structure of political systems, looked at from the basis of the structure of societies. Political anthropology developed as a discipline concerned primarily with politics in stateless societies, a new development started from the 1960s, and is still unfolding: anthropologists started increasingly to study more "complex" social settings in which the presence of states, bureaucracies and markets entered both ethnographic accounts and analysis of local phenomena. The turn towards complex societies meant that political themes were taken up at two main levels. Firstly, anthropologists continued to study political organization and political phenomena that lay outside the state-regulated sphere (as in patron-client relations or tribal political organization). Secondly, anthropologists slowly started to develop a disciplinary concern with states and their institutions (and on the relationship between formal and informal political institutions). An anthropology of the state developed, and it is a most thriving field today. Geertz' comparative work on "Negara", the Balinese state, is an early, famous example.
Legal anthropology or anthropology of law specializes in "the cross-cultural study of social ordering". Earlier legal anthropological research often focused more narrowly on conflict management, crime, sanctions, or formal regulation. More recent applications include issues such as human rights, legal pluralism, and political uprisings.
Public anthropology was created by Robert Borofsky, a professor at Hawaii Pacific University, to "demonstrate the ability of anthropology and anthropologists to effectively address problems beyond the discipline – illuminating larger social issues of our times as well as encouraging broad, public conversations about them with the explicit goal of fostering social change".
Cyborg anthropology originated as a sub-focus group within the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting in 1993. The sub-group was very closely related to STS and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. Donna Haraway's 1985 Cyborg Manifesto could be considered the founding document of cyborg anthropology by first exploring the philosophical and sociological ramifications of the term. Cyborg anthropology studies humankind and its relations with the technological systems it has built, specifically modern technological systems that have reflexively shaped notions of what it means to be human beings.
Digital anthropology is the study of the relationship between humans and digital-era technology, and extends to various areas where anthropology and technology intersect. It is sometimes grouped with sociocultural anthropology, and sometimes considered part of material culture. The field is new, and thus has a variety of names with a variety of emphases. These include techno-anthropology, digital ethnography, cyberanthropology, and virtual anthropology.
Ecological anthropology is defined as the "study of cultural adaptations to environments". The sub-field is also defined as, "the study of relationships between a population of humans and their biophysical environment". The focus of its research concerns "how cultural beliefs and practices helped human populations adapt to their environments, and how their environment across space and time. The contemporary perspective of environmental anthropology, and arguably at least the backdrop, if not the focus of most of the ethnographies and cultural fieldworks of today, is political ecology. Many characterize this new perspective as more informed with culture, politics and power, globalization, localized issues, century anthropology and more. The focus and data interpretation is often used for arguments for/against or creation of policy, and to prevent corporate exploitation and damage of land. Often, the observer has become an active part of the struggle either directly (organizing, participation) or indirectly (articles, documentaries, books, ethnographies). Such is the case with environmental justice advocate Melissa Checker and her relationship with the people of Hyde Park.
Ethnohistory is the study of ethnographic cultures and indigenous customs by examining historical records. It is also the study of the history of various ethnic groups that may or may not exist today. Ethnohistory uses both historical and ethnographic data as its foundation. Its historical methods and materials go beyond the standard use of documents and manuscripts. Practitioners recognize the utility of such source material as maps, music, paintings, photography, folklore, oral tradition, site exploration, archaeological materials, museum collections, enduring customs, language, and place names.
The anthropology of religion involves the study of religious institutions in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures. Modern anthropology assumes that there is complete continuity between magical thinking and religion,[n 6] and that every religion is a cultural product, created by the human community that worships it.
Urban anthropology is concerned with issues of urbanization, poverty, and neoliberalism. Ulf Hannerz quotes a 1960s remark that traditional anthropologists were "a notoriously agoraphobic lot, anti-urban by definition". Various social processes in the Western World as well as in the "Third World" (the latter being the habitual focus of attention of anthropologists) brought the attention of "specialists in 'other cultures'" closer to their homes. There are two main approaches to urban anthropology: examining the types of cities or examining the social issues within the cities. These two methods are overlapping and dependent of each other. By defining different types of cities, one would use social factors as well as economic and political factors to categorize the cities. By directly looking at the different social issues, one would also be studying how they affect the dynamic of the city.
Anthrozoology (also known as "human–animal studies") is the study of interaction between living things. It is an interdisciplinary field that overlaps with a number of other disciplines, including anthropology, ethology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. A major focus of anthrozoologic research is the quantifying of the positive effects of human-animal relationships on either party and the study of their interactions. It includes scholars from a diverse range of fields, including anthropology, sociology, biology, and philosophy.[n 7]
Biocultural anthropology is the scientific exploration of the relationships between human biology and culture. Physical anthropologists throughout the first half of the 20th century viewed this relationship from a racial perspective; that is, from the assumption that typological human biological differences lead to cultural differences. After World War II the emphasis began to shift toward an effort to explore the role culture plays in shaping human biology.
Evolutionary anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of the evolution of human physiology and human behaviour and the relation between hominins and non-hominin primates. Evolutionary anthropology is based in natural science and social science, combining the human development with socioeconomic factors. Evolutionary anthropology is concerned with both biological and cultural evolution of humans, past and present. It is based on a scientific approach, and brings together fields such as archaeology, behavioral ecology, psychology, primatology, and genetics. It is a dynamic and interdisciplinary field, drawing on many lines of evidence to understand the human experience, past and present.
Forensic anthropology is the application of the science of physical anthropology and human osteology in a legal setting, most often in criminal cases where the victim's remains are in the advanced stages of decomposition. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable. The adjective "forensic" refers to the application of this subfield of science to a court of law.
Paleoanthropology combines the disciplines of paleontology and physical anthropology. It is the study of ancient humans, as found in fossil hominid evidence such as petrifacted bones and footprints. Genetics and morphology of specimens are crucially important to this field. Markers on specimens, such as enamel fractures and dental decay on teeth, can also give insight into the behaviour and diet of past populations.
Contemporary anthropology is an established science with academic departments at most universities and colleges. The single largest organization of anthropologists is the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which was founded in 1903. Its members are anthropologists from around the globe.
In 1989, a group of European and American scholars in the field of anthropology established the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) which serves as a major professional organization for anthropologists working in Europe. The EASA seeks to advance the status of anthropology in Europe and to increase visibility of marginalized anthropological traditions and thereby contribute to the project of a global anthropology or world anthropology.
Hundreds of other organizations exist in the various sub-fields of anthropology, sometimes divided up by nation or region, and many anthropologists work with collaborators in other disciplines, such as geology, physics, zoology, paleontology, anatomy, music theory, art history, sociology and so on, belonging to professional societies in those disciplines as well.
As the field has matured it has debated and arrived at ethical principles aimed at protecting both the subjects of anthropological research as well as the researchers themselves, and professional societies have generated codes of ethics.
Some commentators have contended:
As part of their quest for scientific objectivity, present-day anthropologists typically urge cultural relativism, which has an influence on all the sub-fields of anthropology. This is the notion that cultures should not be judged by another's values or viewpoints, but be examined dispassionately on their own terms. There should be no notions, in good anthropology, of one culture being better or worse than another culture.
Ethical commitments in anthropology include noticing and documenting genocide, infanticide, racism, mutilation (including circumcision and subincision), and torture. Topics like racism, slavery, and human sacrifice attract anthropological attention and theories ranging from nutritional deficiencies to genes to acculturation have been proposed, not to mention theories of colonialism and many others as root causes of Man's inhumanity to man. To illustrate the depth of an anthropological approach, one can take just one of these topics, such as "racism" and find thousands of anthropological references, stretching across all the major and minor sub-fields.
Anthropologists' involvement with the U.S. government, in particular, has caused bitter controversy within the discipline. Franz Boas publicly objected to US participation in World War I, and after the war he published a brief expose and condemnation of the participation of several American archaeologists in espionage in Mexico under their cover as scientists.
But by the 1940s, many of Boas' anthropologist contemporaries were active in the allied war effort against the Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan). Many served in the armed forces, while others worked in intelligence (for example, Office of Strategic Services and the Office of War Information). At the same time, David H. Price's work on American anthropology during the Cold War provides detailed accounts of the pursuit and dismissal of several anthropologists from their jobs for communist sympathies.
Attempts to accuse anthropologists of complicity with the CIA and government intelligence activities during the Vietnam War years have turned up surprisingly little. Many anthropologists (students and teachers) were active in the antiwar movement. Numerous resolutions condemning the war in all its aspects were passed overwhelmingly at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).
Professional anthropological bodies often object to the use of anthropology for the benefit of the state. Their codes of ethics or statements may proscribe anthropologists from giving secret briefings. The Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA) has called certain scholarship ethically dangerous. The AAA's current 'Statement of Professional Responsibility' clearly states that "in relation with their own government and with host governments ... no secret research, no secret reports or debriefings of any kind should be agreed to or given."
Anthropologists, along with other social scientists, are working with the US military as part of the US Army's strategy in Afghanistan. The Christian Science Monitor reports that "Counterinsurgency efforts focus on better grasping and meeting local needs" in Afghanistan, under the Human Terrain System (HTS) program; in addition, HTS teams are working with the US military in Iraq. In 2009, the American Anthropological Association's Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities released its final report concluding, in part, that, "When ethnographic investigation is determined by military missions, not subject to external review, where data collection occurs in the context of war, integrated into the goals of counterinsurgency, and in a potentially coercive environment – all characteristic factors of the HTS concept and its application – it can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology. In summary, while we stress that constructive engagement between anthropology and the military is possible, CEAUSSIC suggests that the AAA emphasize the incompatibility of HTS with disciplinary ethics and practice for job seekers and that it further recognize the problem of allowing HTS to define the meaning of "anthropology" within DoD."
Before WWII British 'social anthropology' and American 'cultural anthropology' were still distinct traditions. After the war, enough British and American anthropologists borrowed ideas and methodological approaches from one another that some began to speak of them collectively as 'sociocultural' anthropology.
There are several characteristics that tend to unite anthropological work. One of the central characteristics is that anthropology tends to provide a comparatively more holistic account of phenomena and tends to be highly empirical. The quest for holism leads most anthropologists to study a particular place, problem or phenomenon in detail, using a variety of methods, over a more extensive period than normal in many parts of academia.
In the 1990s and 2000s, calls for clarification of what constitutes a culture, of how an observer knows where his or her own culture ends and another begins, and other crucial topics in writing anthropology were heard. These dynamic relationships, between what can be observed on the ground, as opposed to what can be observed by compiling many local observations remain fundamental in any kind of anthropology, whether cultural, biological, linguistic or archaeological.
Biological anthropologists are interested in both human variation and in the possibility of human universals (behaviors, ideas or concepts shared by virtually all human cultures). They use many different methods of study, but modern population genetics, participant observation and other techniques often take anthropologists "into the field," which means traveling to a community in its own setting, to do something called "fieldwork." On the biological or physical side, human measurements, genetic samples, nutritional data may be gathered and published as articles or monographs.
Along with dividing up their project by theoretical emphasis, anthropologists typically divide the world up into relevant time periods and geographic regions. Human time on Earth is divided up into relevant cultural traditions based on material, such as the Paleolithic and the Neolithic, of particular use in archaeology. Further cultural subdivisions according to tool types, such as Olduwan or Mousterian or Levalloisian help archaeologists and other anthropologists in understanding major trends in the human past. Anthropologists and geographers share approaches to culture regions as well, since mapping cultures is central to both sciences. By making comparisons across cultural traditions (time-based) and cultural regions (space-based), anthropologists have developed various kinds of comparative method, a central part of their science.
Because anthropology developed from so many different enterprises (see History of anthropology), including but not limited to fossil-hunting, exploring, documentary film-making, paleontology, primatology, antiquity dealings and curatorship, philology, etymology, genetics, regional analysis, ethnology, history, philosophy, and religious studies, it is difficult to characterize the entire field in a brief article, although attempts to write histories of the entire field have been made.
Some authors argue that anthropology originated and developed as the study of "other cultures", both in terms of time (past societies) and space (non-European/non-Western societies). For example, the classic of urban anthropology, Ulf Hannerz in the introduction to his seminal Exploring the City: Inquiries Toward an Urban Anthropology mentions that the "Third World" had habitually received most of attention; anthropologists who traditionally specialized in "other cultures" looked for them far away and started to look "across the tracks" only in late 1960s.
Now there exist many works focusing on peoples and topics very close to the author's "home". It is also argued that other fields of study, like History and Sociology, on the contrary focus disproportionately on the West.
In France, the study of Western societies has been traditionally left to sociologists, but this is increasingly changing, starting in the 1970s from scholars like Isac Chiva and journals like Terrain ("fieldwork"), and developing with the center founded by Marc Augé (Le Centre d'anthropologie des mondes contemporains, the Anthropological Research Center of Contemporary Societies).
Since the 1980s it has become common for social and cultural anthropologists to set ethnographic research in the North Atlantic region, frequently examining the connections between locations rather than limiting research to a single locale. There has also been a related shift toward broadening the focus beyond the daily life of ordinary people; increasingly, research is set in settings such as scientific laboratories, social movements, governmental and nongovernmental organizations and businesses.
the traditional anthropological project of cross-cultural or cross-societal comparison
The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is an organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 10,000 members, the association, based in Arlington, Virginia, includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological (or physical) anthropologists, linguistic anthropologists, linguists, medical anthropologists and applied anthropologists in universities and colleges, research institutions, government agencies, museums, corporations and non-profits throughout the world. The AAA publishes more than 20 peer-reviewed scholarly journals, available in print and online through AnthroSource. The AAA was founded in 1902.Anthropologist
An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of various aspects of humans within past and present societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and philosophical anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life, while economic anthropology studies human economic behavior. Biological (physical), forensic, and medical anthropology study the biological development of humans, the application of biological anthropology in a legal setting, and the study of diseases and their impacts on humans over time, respectively.Anthropology of religion
Anthropology of religion is the study of religion in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures.Anthropometry
Anthropometry (from Greek ἄνθρωπος anthropos, 'human', and μέτρον metron, 'measure') refers to the measurement of the human individual. An early tool of physical anthropology, it has been used for identification, for the purposes of understanding human physical variation, in paleoanthropology and in various attempts to correlate physical with racial and psychological traits. Anthropometry involves the systematic measurement of the physical properties of the human body, primarily dimensional descriptors of body size and shape.Today, anthropometry plays an important role in industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics and architecture where statistical data about the distribution of body dimensions in the population are used to optimize products. Changes in lifestyles, nutrition, and ethnic composition of populations lead to changes in the distribution of body dimensions (e.g. the rise in obesity) and require regular updating of anthropometric data collections.Biological anthropology
Biological anthropology, also known as physical anthropology, is a scientific discipline concerned with the biological and behavioral aspects of human beings, their extinct hominin ancestors, and related non-human primates, particularly from an evolutionary perspective. It is a subfield of anthropology that provides a biological perspective to the systematic study of human beings.Caucasian race
The Caucasian race (also Caucasoid or Europid) is a grouping of human beings historically regarded as a biological taxon, which, depending on which of the historical race classifications used, have usually included some or all of the ancient and modern populations of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.First introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, the term denoted one of three purported major races of humankind (Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid). In biological anthropology, Caucasoid has been used as an umbrella term for phenotypically similar groups from these different regions, with a focus on skeletal anatomy, and especially cranial morphology, over skin tone. Ancient and modern "Caucasoid" populations were thus held to have ranged in complexion from white to dark brown. Since the second half of the 20th century, physical anthropologists have moved away from a typological understanding of human biological diversity towards a genomic and population-based perspective, and have tended to understand race as a social classification of humans based on phenotype and ancestry as well as cultural factors, as the concept is also understood in the social sciences. Although Caucasian / Caucasoid and their counterparts Negroid and Mongoloid have been used less frequently as a biological classification in forensic anthropology (where it is sometimes used as a way to identify the ancestry of human remains based on interpretations of osteological measurements), the terms remain in use by some anthropologists.In the United States, the root term Caucasian has also often been used in a different, societal context as a synonym for white or of European, Middle Eastern, or North African ancestry. Its usage in American English has been criticized.Cultural anthropology
Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology focused on the study of cultural variation among humans. It is in contrast to social anthropology, which perceives cultural variation as a subset of the anthropological constant.
Cultural anthropology has a rich methodology, including participant observation (often called fieldwork because it requires the anthropologist spending an extended period of time at the research location), interviews, and surveys.
One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term "culture" came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1871 book: "Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." The term "civilization" later gave way to definitions given by V. Gordon Childe, with culture forming an umbrella term and civilization becoming a particular kind of culture.The anthropological concept of "culture" reflects in part a reaction against earlier Western discourses based on an opposition between "culture" and "nature", according to which some human beings lived in a "state of nature". Anthropologists have argued that culture is "human nature", and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically (i.e. in language), and teach such abstractions to others.
Since humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, people living in different places or different circumstances develop different cultures. Anthropologists have also pointed out that through culture people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will often have different cultures. Much of anthropological theory has originated in an appreciation of and interest in the tension between the local (particular cultures) and the global (a universal human nature, or the web of connections between people in distinct places/circumstances).The rise of cultural anthropology took place within the context of the late 19th century, when questions regarding which cultures were "primitive" and which were "civilized" occupied the minds of not only Marx and Freud, but many others. Colonialism and its processes increasingly brought European thinkers into direct or indirect contact with "primitive others." The relative status of various humans, some of whom had modern advanced technologies that included engines and telegraphs, while others lacked anything but face-to-face communication techniques and still lived a Paleolithic lifestyle, was of interest to the first generation of cultural anthropologists.
Parallel with the rise of cultural anthropology in the United States, social anthropology, in which sociality is the central concept and which focuses on the study of social statuses and roles, groups, institutions, and the relations among them—developed as an academic discipline in Britain and in France. The umbrella term socio-cultural anthropology draws upon both cultural and social anthropology traditions.Culture
Culture () is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization (including practices of political organization and social institutions), mythology, philosophy, literature (both written and oral), and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.In the humanities, one sense of culture as an attribute of the individual has been the degree to which they have cultivated a particular level of sophistication in the arts, sciences, education, or manners. The level of cultural sophistication has also sometimes been seen to distinguish civilizations from less complex societies. Such hierarchical perspectives on culture are also found in class-based distinctions between a high culture of the social elite and a low culture, popular culture, or folk culture of the lower classes, distinguished by the stratified access to cultural capital. In common parlance, culture is often used to refer specifically to the symbolic markers used by ethnic groups to distinguish themselves visibly from each other such as body modification, clothing or jewelry. Mass culture refers to the mass-produced and mass mediated forms of consumer culture that emerged in the 20th century. Some schools of philosophy, such as Marxism and critical theory, have argued that culture is often used politically as a tool of the elites to manipulate the lower classes and create a false consciousness, and such perspectives are common in the discipline of cultural studies. In the wider social sciences, the theoretical perspective of cultural materialism holds that human symbolic culture arises from the material conditions of human life, as humans create the conditions for physical survival, and that the basis of culture is found in evolved biological dispositions.
When used as a count noun, a "culture" is the set of customs, traditions, and values of a society or community, such as an ethnic group or nation. Culture is the set of knowledge acquired over time. In this sense, multiculturalism values the peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between different cultures inhabiting the same planet. Sometimes "culture" is also used to describe specific practices within a subgroup of a society, a subculture (e.g. "bro culture"), or a counterculture. Within cultural anthropology, the ideology and analytical stance of cultural relativism holds that cultures cannot easily be objectively ranked or evaluated because any evaluation is necessarily situated within the value system of a given culture.Ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism is the act of judging another culture based on preconceptions that are found in the values and standards of one's own culture. Ethnocentric behavior involves judging other groups relative to the preconceptions of one's own ethnic group or culture, especially regarding language, behavior, customs, and religion. These aspects or categories are distinctions that define each ethnicity's unique cultural identity.William G. Sumner defined ethnocentrism as "the technical name for the view of things in which one's own group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it." He further characterized ethnocentrism as often leading to pride, vanity, the belief in one's own group's superiority, and contempt for outsiders. These problems may occur from the division of societies into in-groups and out-groups. Ethnocentrism is explained in the social sciences and genetics. In anthropology, cultural relativism is used as an antithesis and antonym to ethnocentrism.Ethnography
Ethnography (from Greek ἔθνος ethnos "folk, people, nation" and γράφω grapho "I write") is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group. The word can thus be said to have a double meaning, which partly depends on whether it is used as a count noun or uncountable. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group.As a method of data collection, ethnography entails examining the behaviour of the participants in a certain specific social situation and also understanding their interpretation of such behaviour. Dewan (2018) further elaborates that this behaviour may be shaped by the constraints the participants feel because of the situations they are in or by the society in which they belong. Ethnography, as the presentation of empirical data on human societies and cultures, was pioneered in the biological, social, and cultural branches of anthropology, but it has also become popular in the social sciences in general—sociology, communication studies, history—wherever people study ethnic groups, formations, compositions, resettlements, social welfare characteristics, materiality, spirituality, and a people's ethnogenesis. The typical ethnography is a holistic study and so includes a brief history, and an analysis of the terrain, the climate, and the habitat. In all cases, it should be reflexive, make a substantial contribution toward the understanding of the social life of humans, have an aesthetic impact on the reader, and express a credible reality. An ethnography records all observed behavior and describes all symbol-meaning relations, using concepts that avoid causal explanations. Traditionally, ethnography was focussed on the western gaze towards the far 'exotic' east, but now researchers are undertaking ethnography in their own social environment. According to Dewan (2018), even if we are the other, the ‘another’ or the ‘native’, we are still ‘another’ because there are many facades of ourselves that connect us to people and other facades that highlight our differences.Ethnology
Ethnology (from the Greek ἔθνος, ethnos meaning "nation") is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationships between them (cf. cultural, social, or sociocultural anthropology).Evolutionary anthropology
Evolutionary anthropology is the interdisciplinary study of the evolution of human physiology and human behaviour and the relation between hominids and non-hominid primates. Evolutionary anthropology is based in natural science and social science. Various fields and disciplines of evolutionary anthropology are:
Human evolution and anthropogeny.
Paleoanthropology and paleontology of both human and non-human primates.
Primatology and primate ethology.
The sociocultural evolution of human behavior, including phylogenetic approaches to historical linguistics.
The evolutionary psychology and evolutionary linguistics of humans.
The archaeological study of human technology and change over time and space.
Human evolutionary genetics and changes in the human genome over time.
The neuroscience, endocrinology, and neuroanthropology of human and primate cognition, culture and actions and abilities.
Human behavioural ecology and the interaction of humans and the environment.
Studies of human anatomy, physiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and differences and changes between species, variation between human groups, and relationships to cultural factors.Evolutionary anthropology is concerned with both biological and cultural evolution of humans, past and present. It is based on a scientific approach, and brings together fields such as archaeology, behavioral ecology, psychology, primatology, and genetics. It is a dynamic and interdisciplinary field, drawing on many lines of evidence to understand the human experience, past and present.
Studies of biological evolution generally concern the evolution of the human form. Cultural evolution involves the study of cultural change over time and space and frequently incorporate cultural transmission models. Note that cultural evolution is not the same as biological evolution, and that human culture involves the transmission of cultural information, which behaves in ways quite distinct from human biology and genetics. The study of cultural change is increasingly performed through cladistics and genetic models.Forensic anthropology
Forensic anthropology is the application of the anatomical science of anthropology and its various subfields, including forensic archaeology and forensic taphonomy, in a legal setting. A forensic anthropologist can assist in the identification of deceased individuals whose remains are decomposed, burned, mutilated or otherwise unrecognizable, as might happen in a plane crash. Forensic anthropologists are also instrumental to the investigation and documentation of genocide and mass graves. Along with forensic pathologists, forensic dentists, and homicide investigators, forensic anthropologists commonly testify in court as expert witnesses. Using physical markers present on a skeleton, a forensic anthropologist can potentially determine a victim's age, sex, stature, and ancestry. In addition to identifying physical characteristics of the individual, forensic anthropologists can use skeletal abnormalities to potentially determine cause of death, past trauma such as broken bones or medical procedures, as well as diseases such as bone cancer.
The methods used to identify a person from a skeleton relies on the past contributions of various anthropologists and the study of human skeletal differences. Through the collection of thousands of specimens and the analysis of differences within a population, estimations can be made based on physical characteristics. Through these, a set of remains can potentially be identified. The field of forensic anthropology grew during the twentieth century into a fully recognized forensic specialty involving trained anthropologists as well as numerous research institutions gathering data on decomposition and the effects it can have on the skeleton.Race (human categorization)
A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations, by the 17th century the term race began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, that is, a symbolic identity created to establish some cultural meaning. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality.Social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time, involving folk taxonomies that define essential types of individuals based on perceived traits. Scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete, and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.Even though there is a broad scientific agreement that essentialist and typological conceptualizations of race are untenable, scientists around the world continue to conceptualize race in widely differing ways, some of which have essentialist implications. While some researchers use the concept of race to make distinctions among fuzzy sets of traits or observable differences in behaviour, others in the scientific community suggest that the idea of race often is used in a naive or simplistic way, and argue that, among humans, race has no taxonomic significance by pointing out that all living humans belong to the same species, Homo sapiens, and (as far as applicable) subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.Since the second half of the 20th century, the association of race with the ideologies and theories of scientific racism has led to the use of the word race itself becoming problematic. Although still used in general contexts, race has often been replaced by less ambiguous and loaded terms: populations, people(s), ethnic groups, or communities, depending on context.SAGE Publishing
SAGE Publishing is an independent publishing company founded in 1965 in New York by Sara Miller McCune and now based in Newbury Park, California. It publishes more than 1,000 journals, more than 800 books a year, reference works and electronic products covering business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. SAGE also owns and publishes under the imprints of Corwin Press (since 1990), CQ Press (since 2008), Learning Matters (since 2011), and Adam Matthew Digital (since 2012). It has more than 1,500 employees in its principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melbourne.
SAGE was the Independent Publishers Guild Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year in 2012.Social anthropology
Social anthropology is the dominant constituent of anthropology throughout the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and much of Europe (France in particular), where it is distinguished from cultural anthropology. In the United States, social anthropology is commonly subsumed within cultural anthropology (or under the relatively new designation of sociocultural anthropology).In contrast to cultural anthropology, culture and its continuity (including narratives, rituals, and symbolic behavior associated with them) have been traditionally seen more as the dependent "variable" (cf. explanandum) by social anthropology, embedded in its historical and social context, including its diversity of positions and perspectives, ambiguities, conflicts, and contradictions of social life, rather than the independent (explanatory) one (cf. explanans).
Topics of interest for social anthropologists have included customs, economic and political organization, law and conflict resolution, patterns of consumption and exchange, kinship and family structure, gender relations, childbearing and socialization, religion, while present-day social anthropologists are also concerned with issues of globalism, ethnic violence, gender studies, transnationalism and local experience, and the emerging cultures of cyberspace, and can also help with bringing opponents together when environmental concerns come into conflict with economic developments.
British and American anthropologists including Gillian Tett and Karen Ho who studied Wall Street provided an alternative explanation for the financial crisis of 2007–2010 to the technical explanations rooted in economic and political theory.Differences among British, French, and American sociocultural anthropologies have diminished with increasing dialogue and borrowing of both theory and methods. Social and cultural anthropologists, and some who integrate the two, are found in most institutes of anthropology. Thus the formal names of institutional units no longer necessarily reflect fully the content of the disciplines these cover. Some, such as the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Oxford) changed their name to reflect the change in composition, others, such as Social Anthropology at the University of Kent became simply Anthropology. Most retain the name under which they were founded.
Long-term qualitative research, including intensive field studies (emphasizing participant observation methods) has been traditionally encouraged in social anthropology rather than quantitative analysis of surveys, questionnaires and brief field visits typically used by economists, political scientists, and (most) sociologists.Structural functionalism
Structural functionalism, or simply functionalism, is "a framework for building theory that sees society as a complex system whose parts work together to promote solidarity and stability". This approach looks at society through a macro-level orientation, which is a broad focus on the social structures that shape society as a whole, and believes that society has evolved like organisms. This approach looks at both social structure and social functions. Functionalism addresses society as a whole in terms of the function of its constituent elements; namely norms, customs, traditions, and institutions.
A common analogy, popularized by Herbert Spencer, presents these parts of society as "organs" that work toward the proper functioning of the "body" as a whole. In the most basic terms, it simply emphasizes "the effort to impute, as rigorously as possible, to each feature, custom, or practice, its effect on the functioning of a supposedly stable, cohesive system". For Talcott Parsons, "structural-functionalism" came to describe a particular stage in the methodological development of social science, rather than a specific school of thought.Structuralism
In sociology, anthropology, and linguistics, structuralism is the methodology that implies elements of human culture must be understood by way of their relationship to a broader, overarching system or structure. It works to uncover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive, and feel. Alternatively, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn, structuralism is "the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface phenomena there are constant laws of abstract structure".Structuralism in Europe developed in the early 1900s, in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague, Moscow and Copenhagen schools of linguistics. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when structural linguistics were facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance, an array of scholars in the humanities borrowed Saussure's concepts for use in their respective fields of study. French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss was arguably the first such scholar, sparking a widespread interest in structuralism.The structuralist mode of reasoning has been applied in a diverse range of fields, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism, economics and architecture. The most prominent thinkers associated with structuralism include Claude Lévi-Strauss, linguist Roman Jakobson, and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. As an intellectual movement, structuralism was initially presumed to be the heir apparent to existentialism. However, by the late 1960s, many of structuralism's basic tenets came under attack from a new wave of predominantly French intellectuals such as the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault, the philosopher Jacques Derrida, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the literary critic Roland Barthes. Though elements of their work necessarily relate to structuralism and are informed by it, these theorists have generally been referred to as post-structuralists. In the 1970s, structuralism was criticized for its rigidity and ahistoricism. Despite this, many of structuralism's proponents, such as Lacan, continue to assert an influence on continental philosophy and many of the fundamental assumptions of some of structuralism's post-structuralist critics are a continuation of structuralism.Visual anthropology
Visual anthropology is a subfield of social anthropology that is concerned, in part, with the study and production of ethnographic photography, film and, since the mid-1990s, new media. More recently it has been used by historians of science and visual culture. Although sometimes wrongly conflated with ethnographic film, Visual Anthropology encompasses much more, including the anthropological study of all visual representations such as dance and other kinds of performance, museums and archiving, all visual arts, and the production and reception of mass media. Histories and analyses of representations from many cultures are part of Visual Anthropology: research topics include sandpaintings, tattoos, sculptures and reliefs, cave paintings, scrimshaw, jewelry, hieroglyphics, paintings and photographs. Also within the province of the subfield are studies of human vision, properties of media, the relationship of visual form and function, and applied, collaborative uses of visual representations. Multimodal anthropology describes the latest turn in the subfield, which considers how emerging technologies like immersive virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile apps, social networking, gaming along with film, photography and art is reshaping anthropological research, practice and teaching.