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Intro to Anthropology

RESOURCE: Intro to Anthropology

What is Anthropology

  • The discipline of anthropology studies humankind in its entirety and aims to produce useful generalizations about the behavior of people around the world and throughout time.
  • Anthropology follows the holistic perspective, meaning that through cross-cultural comparison we can recognize both the great diversity between people as well as the human characteristics that unite us all.
  • Anthropology – the systematic study of humankind.
  • What do we mean by systematic?
  • Scientific Method
  • Empirical – based on observation and experiment
  • Positivism – only authentic knowledge is that which is based on sense, experience and positive verification
  • Concept – a cognitive unit of meaning, an abstract idea or a mental symbol
  • Variable – logical set of characteristics of an object
  • Hypothesis
  • Theory
  • Comparative and empirical (based on observation and experiment).
  • Fieldwork is its most important method of data collection.
  • Global focus (looks at all societies).
  • Studies society as it is being enacted.
  • Stresses social and cultural context of speech when looking at language

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  • Study of a culture by looking at all the parts of the system and how those parts are interrelated


Other Social Sciences

  • Sociology – study of society
  • Political Science – study of the state, government and politics
  • Economics – analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services
  • Psychology –study of human behavior and mental processes


5 Types of Anthropology

  • Cultural Anthropology: the study of ways of life (culture) throughout the world by direct observation
  • Archaeology: studies material remains in order to describe and explain human behavior
  • Linguistic Anthropology: studies the origin and social context of speech and languages and their relationship with culture
  • Biological Anthropology: the study of human evolution and contemporary human diversity
  • Applied Anthropology: the use of anthropological knowledge for solving problems of social development


Cultural Anthropology

  • Knowledge about those aspects of humanity which are not natural, but which are learned / acquired
  • All anthropologists rely on fieldwork.
  • The characteristic form of fieldwork in Cultural Anthropology is called Participant Observation.

Our research is holistic—it examines how each part of culture influences all other parts


  • Culture can be defined as a society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values, and perceptions.
    • An individual cannot invent a culture in isolation.
    • * Culture has two main characteristics. It is learned, and it is shared.
  • It is both a system for understanding life and, simultaneously, a set of rules for living.
  • Culture is a shared However, it is not shared homogeneously.
  • All cultures change.
  • The central core of any culture are the shared beliefs and shared feelings that, by consensus, are regarded as normal or typical within a society.
RESOURCE: Intro to Anthropology
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