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Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • IB Social and cultural anthropology is the comparative study of culture and human societies
  • The course places special emphasis on comparative perspectives that challenge cultural assumptions
  • Explore problems and issues associated with complexity of modern societies in local, regional and global contexts
  • Studies a tradition of participant observation and an in-depth empirical study of social groups
  • Studies social change, kinship, symbolism, exchange, belief systems, ethnicity and power relations
  • Explore principles of social and cultural life and characteristics of societies and cultures
  • Develop an awareness of historical, scientific and social contexts within which social and cultural anthropology has developed
  • Develop in the student a capacity to recognize preconceptions and assumptions of their own social and cultural environments
  • Develop and awareness of relationships between local, regional and global processes and issues

Part 1: What is anthropology? (SL/HL)

  • Core terms and ideas in anthropology
  • Construction and use of ethnographic accounts
  • Methods and data collection

Part 2: Social and cultural organization (SL/HL)

  • Individuals, groups and society
  • Societies and cultures in contact
  • Kinship as an organizing principle
  • Political organization
  • Economic organization and the environment
  • Systems of knowledge
  • Belief systems and practices
  • Moral systems

Part 3: Observation and critique exercise (SL)
In the first six weeks of the course SL students undertake an observation and produce a written report from their field notes

Part 4: Theoretical perspectives in anthropology (HL only)
Introduction to experimental research methodology

Part 5: Fieldwork (HL only)


    • Are the findings of the natural sciences as reliable as those of the human sciences?
    • Can particular knowledge be used to make genderalizations across time and space?
    • To what extent can anthropology engage the public in questioning common assumptions about the world?
    • How do we reconcile our knowledge that we can never be objective with the assumptions of some disciplines that objectivity is taken for granted?

    Paper 1
    Three compulsory questions based on an unseen text covering aspects drawn from the whole syllabus

    Paper 2
    Ten questions based on part 2 of the syllabus. Students choose two questions to be answered in essay form

    Two Compulsory Activities

    • A one-hour observation followed by a written report
    • A critiqe of the initial report
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