Social anthropology is the dominant constituent of anthropology throughout the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and much of Europe (France in particular), [ citation needed ]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).
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
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.
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 ).
A narrative or story is an account of a series of related events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, which is derived from the adjective gnarus. Along with exposition, argumentation and description, narration, broadly defined, is one of four rhetorical modes of discourse. More narrowly defined, it is the fiction-writing mode in which the narrator communicates directly to the reader.
A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community, including a religious community. Rituals are characterized but not defined by formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rule-governance, sacral symbolism, and performance.
In social science, a social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals. Social relations derived from individual agency form the basis of social structure and the basic object for analysis by social scientists. Fundamental inquiries into the nature of social relations feature in the work of sociologists such as Max Weber in his theory of social action.
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.
A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom.
Economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
Politics is a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group.
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.
Qualitative research is a scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data. This type of research "refers to the meanings, concepts definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and description of things" and not to their "counts or measures". This research answers why and how a certain phenomenon may occur rather than how often. Qualitative research approaches are employed across many academic disciplines, focusing particularly on the human elements of the social and natural sciences; in less academic contexts, areas of application include qualitative market research, business, service demonstrations by non-profits, and journalism.
Participant observation is one type of data collection method typically used in qualitative research and ethnography. It is a widely used methodology in many disciplines, particularly cultural anthropology, European ethnology, sociology, communication studies, human geography and social psychology. Its aim is to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their cultural environment, usually over an extended period of time.
Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior.
Social anthropology is distinguished from subjects such as economics or political science by its holistic range and the attention it gives to the comparative diversity of societies and cultures across the world, and the capacity this gives the discipline to re-examine Euro-American assumptions. It is differentiated from sociology, both in its main methods (based on long-term participant observation and linguistic competence),and in its commitment to the relevance and illumination provided by micro studies. It extends beyond strictly social phenomena to culture, art, individuality, and cognition. Many social anthropologists use quantitative methods, too, particularly those whose research touches on topics such as local economies, demography, human ecology, cognition, or health and illness.
Holism is the idea that systems and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not just as a collection of parts.
Sociology is the study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction and culture of everyday life using the principles of psychology neuroscience and network science. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and change or social evolution. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes. Subject matter ranges from the micro-sociology level of individual agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and the social structure.
Demography is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings.
Specializations within social anthropology shift as its objects of study are transformed and as new intellectual paradigms appear; musicology and medical anthropology are examples of current, well-defined specialities.
More recent and currently cognitive development; social and ethical understandings of novel technologies; emergent forms of "the family" and other new socialities modelled on kinship; the ongoing social fall-out of the demise of state socialism; the politics of resurgent religiosity; and analysis of audit cultures and accountability.
The subject has been enlivened by, and has contributed to, approaches from other disciplines, such as philosophy (ethics, phenomenology, logic), the history of science, psychoanalysis, and linguistics.
The subject has both ethical and reflexive dimensions. Practitioners have developed an awareness of the sense in which scholars create their objects of study and the ways in which anthropologists themselves may contribute to processes of change in the societies they study. An example of this is the "hawthorne effect", whereby those being studied may alter their behaviour in response to the knowledge that they are being watched and studied.
Social anthropology has historical roots in a number of 19th-century disciplines, including ethnology, folklore studies, and Classics, among others. (See History of anthropology.) Its immediate precursor took shape in the work of Edward Burnett Tylor and James George Frazer in the late 19th century and underwent major changes in both method and theory during the period 1890-1920 with a new emphasis on original fieldwork, long-term holistic study of social behavior in natural settings, and the introduction of French and German social theory. Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the most important influences on British social anthropology, emphasized long term fieldwork in which anthropologists work in the vernacular and immerse themselves in the daily practices of local people.This development was bolstered by Franz Boas's introduction of cultural relativism arguing that cultures are based on different ideas about the world and can therefore only be properly understood in terms of their own standards and values.
Museums such as the British Museum weren't the only site of anthropological studies: with the New Imperialism period, starting in the 1870s, zoos became unattended "laboratories", especially the so-called "ethnological exhibitions" or "Negro villages". Thus, "savages" from the colonies were displayed, often nudes, in cages, in what has been called "human zoos". For example, in 1906, Congolese pygmy Ota Benga was put by anthropologist Madison Grant in a cage in the Bronx Zoo, labelled "the missing link" between an orangutan and the "white race" — Grant, a renowned eugenicist, was also the author of The Passing of the Great Race (1916). Such exhibitions were attempts to illustrate and prove in the same movement the validity of scientific racism, which first formulation may be found in Arthur de Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of Human Races (1853–55). In 1931, the Colonial Exhibition in Paris still displayed Kanaks from New Caledonia in the "indigenous village"; it received 24 million visitors in six months, thus demonstrating the popularity of such "human zoos".
Anthropology grew increasingly distinct from natural history and by the end of the 19th century the discipline began to crystallize into its modern form - by 1935, for example, it was possible for T.K. Penniman to write a history of the discipline entitled A Hundred Years of Anthropology. At the time, the field was dominated by "the comparative method". It was assumed that all societies passed through a single evolutionary process from the most primitive to most advanced. Non-European societies were thus seen as evolutionary "living fossils" that could be studied in order to understand the European past. Scholars wrote histories of prehistoric migrations which were sometimes valuable but often also fanciful. It was during this time that Europeans first accurately traced Polynesian migrations across the Pacific Ocean for instance - although some of them believed it originated in Egypt. Finally, the concept of race was actively discussed as a way to classify - and rank - human beings based on difference.
E.B. Tylor (2 October 1832 – 2 January 1917) and James George Frazer (1 January 1854 – 7 May 1941) are generally considered the antecedents to modern social anthropology in Britain. Although Tylor undertook a field trip to Mexico, both he and Frazer derived most of the material for their comparative studies through extensive reading, not fieldwork, mainly the Classics (literature and history of Greece and Rome), the work of the early European folklorists, and reports from missionaries, travelers, and contemporaneous ethnologists.
Tylor advocated strongly for unilinealism and a form of "uniformity of mankind". [ sic ] to another."Tylor in particular laid the groundwork for theories of cultural diffusionism, stating that there are three ways that different groups can have similar cultural forms or technologies: "independent invention, inheritance from ancestors in a distant region, transmission from one race
Tylor formulated one of the early and influential anthropological conceptions of culture as "that complex whole, which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [humans] as [members] of society."However, as Stocking notes, Tylor mainly concerned himself with describing and mapping the distribution of particular elements of culture, rather than with the larger function, and he generally seemed to assume a Victorian idea of progress rather than the idea of non-directional, multilineal cultural change proposed by later anthropologists. Tylor also theorized about the origins of religious beliefs in human beings, proposing a theory of animism as the earliest stage, and noting that "religion" has many components, of which he believed the most important to be belief in supernatural beings (as opposed to moral systems, cosmology, etc.).
Frazer, a Scottish scholar with a broad knowledge of Classics, also concerned himself with religion, myth, and magic. His comparative studies, most influentially in the numerous editions of The Golden Bough , analyzed similarities in religious belief and symbolism globally. Neither Tylor nor Frazer, however, were particularly interested in fieldwork, nor were they interested in examining how the cultural elements and institutions fit together. The Golden Bough was abridged drastically in subsequent editions after his first.
Toward the turn of the 20th century, a number of anthropologists became dissatisfied with this categorization of cultural elements; historical reconstructions also came to seem increasingly speculative to them. Under the influence of several younger scholars, a new approach came to predominate among British anthropologists, concerned with analyzing how societies held together in the present (synchronic analysis, rather than diachronic or historical analysis), and emphasizing long-term (one to several years) immersion fieldwork. Cambridge University financed a multidisciplinary expedition to the Torres Strait Islands in 1898, organized by Alfred Cort Haddon and including a physician-anthropologist, William Rivers, as well as a linguist, a botanist, and other specialists. The findings of the expedition set new standards for ethnographic description.
A decade and a half later, the Polish anthropology student, Bronisław Malinowski (1884–1942), was beginning what he expected to be a brief period of fieldwork in the old model, collecting lists of cultural items, when the outbreak of the First World War stranded him in New Guinea. As a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire resident on a British colonial possession, he was effectively confined to New Guinea for several years.
He made use of the time by undertaking far more intensive fieldwork than had been done by British anthropologists, and his classic ethnography, Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922) advocated an approach to fieldwork that became standard in the field: getting "the native's point of view" through participant observation. Theoretically, he advocated a functionalist interpretation, which examined how social institutions functioned to satisfy individual needs.
Modern social anthropology was founded in Britain at the London School of Economics and Political Science following World War I. Influences include both the methodological revolution pioneered by Bronisław Malinowski's process-oriented fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands of Melanesia between 1915 and 1918and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown's theoretical program for systematic comparison that was based on a conception of rigorous fieldwork and the structure-functionalist conception of Durkheim’s sociology. Other intellectual founders include W. H. R. Rivers and A. C. Haddon, whose orientation reflected the contemporary Parapsychologies of Wilhelm Wundt and Adolf Bastian, and Sir E. B. Tylor, who defined anthropology as a positivist science following Auguste Comte. Edmund Leach (1962) defined social anthropology as a kind of comparative micro-sociology based on intensive fieldwork studies. Scholars have not settled a theoretical orthodoxy on the nature of science and society, and their tensions reflect views which are seriously opposed.
A. R. Radcliffe-Brown also published a seminal work in 1922. He had carried out his initial fieldwork in the Andaman Islands in the old style of historical reconstruction. However, after reading the work of French sociologists Émile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, Radcliffe-Brown published an account of his research (entitled simply The Andaman Islanders) that paid close attention to the meaning and purpose of rituals and myths. Over time, he developed an approach known as structural functionalism, which focused on how institutions in societies worked to balance out or create an equilibrium in the social system to keep it functioning harmoniously. (This contrasted with Malinowski's functionalism, and was quite different from the later French structuralism, which examined the conceptual structures in language and symbolism.)
Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown's influence stemmed from the fact that they, like Boas, actively trained students and aggressively built up institutions that furthered their programmatic ambitions. This was particularly the case with Radcliffe-Brown, who spread his agenda for "Social Anthropology" by teaching at universities across the British Commonwealth. From the late 1930s until the postwar period appeared a string of monographs and edited volumes that cemented the paradigm of British Social Anthropology (BSA). Famous ethnographies include The Nuer, by Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard, and The Dynamics of Clanship Among the Tallensi, by Meyer Fortes; well-known edited volumes include African Systems of Kinship and Marriage and African Political Systems.
Following World War II, sociocultural anthropology as comprised by the fields of ethnography and ethnology diverged into an American school of cultural anthropology while social anthropology diversified in Europe by challenging the principles of structure-functionalism, absorbing ideas from Claude Lévi-Strauss's structuralism and from Max Gluckman’s Manchester school, and embracing the study of conflict, change, urban anthropology, and networks. Together with many of his colleagues at the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute and students at Manchester University, collectively known as the Manchester School, took BSA in new directions through their introduction of explicitly Marxist-informed theory, their emphasis on conflicts and conflict resolution, and their attention to the ways in which individuals negotiate and make use of the social structural possibilities. During this period Gluckman was also involved in a dispute with American anthropologist Paul Bohannan on ethnographic methodology within the anthropological study of law. He believed that indigenous terms used in ethnographic data should be translated into Anglo-American legal terms for the benefit of the reader.The Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth was founded in 1946.
In Britain, anthropology had a great intellectual impact, it "contributed to the erosion of Christianity, the growth of cultural relativism, an awareness of the survival of the primitive in modern life, and the replacement of diachronic modes of analysis with synchronic, all of which are central to modern culture."
Later in the 1960s and 1970s, Edmund Leach and his students Mary Douglas and Nur Yalman, among others, introduced French structuralism in the style of Lévi-Strauss.
In countries of the British Commonwealth, social anthropology has often been institutionally separate from physical anthropology and primatology, which may be connected with departments of biology or zoology; and from archaeology, which may be connected with departments of Classics, Egyptology, and the like. In other countries (and in some, particularly smaller, British and North American universities), anthropologists have also found themselves institutionally linked with scholars of folklore, museum studies, human geography, sociology, social relations, ethnic studies, cultural studies, and social work. British anthropology has continued to emphasize social organization and economics over purely symbolic or literary topics.
A European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) was founded in 1989 as a society of scholarship at a meeting of founder members from fourteen European countries, supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. The Association seeks to advance anthropology in Europe by organizing biennial conferences and by editing its academic journal, Social Anthropology/Anthropologies Social. Departments of Social Anthropology at different Universities have tended to focus on disparate aspects of the field.
Departments of Social Anthropology exist in universities around the world. The field of social anthropology has expanded in ways not anticipated by the founders of the field, as for example in the subfield of structure and dynamics.
Anthropology is the scientific study of humans and human behavior and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology studies patterns of behaviour and cultural anthropology studies cultural meaning, including norms and values. Linguistic anthropology studies how language influences social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
Ethnography 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.
Bronisław Kasper Malinowski was an anthropologist whose writings on ethnography, social theory, and field research were a lasting influence on the discipline of anthropology.
Sir Edward Burnett Tylor was an English anthropologist, the founder of cultural anthropology.
Cross-cultural studies, sometimes called holocultural studies or comparative studies, is a specialization in anthropology and sister sciences that uses field data from many societies to examine the scope of human behavior and test hypotheses about human behavior and culture.
Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown, FBA was an English social anthropologist who developed the theory of structural functionalism and coadaptation.
Political anthropology concerns the structure of political systems, looked at from the basis of the structure of societies.
In the social science fields of anthropology, sociology, history, religious studies, human-centered design and organizational development, a thick description results from a scientific observation of any particular human behavior that describes not just the behavior, but its context as well, so that the behavior can be better understood by an outsider. A thick description typically adds a record of subjective explanations and meanings provided by the people engaged in the behaviors, making the collected data of greater value for studies by other social scientists.
Hortense Powdermaker was an American anthropologist best known for her ethnographic studies of African Americans in rural America and of Hollywood.
History of anthropology in this article refers primarily to the 18th- and 19th-century precursors of modern anthropology. The term anthropology itself, innovated as a New Latin scientific word during the Renaissance, has always meant "the study of man". The topics to be included and the terminology have varied historically. At present they are more elaborate than they were during the development of anthropology. For a presentation of modern social and cultural anthropology as they have developed in Britain, France, and North America since approximately 1900, see the relevant sections under Anthropology.
Meyer Fortes was a South African-born anthropologist, best known for his work among the Tallensi and Ashanti in Ghana.
Sir Edmund Ronald Leach was a British social anthropologist.
Legal anthropology, also known as the anthropology of laws, is a sub-discipline of anthropology which specializes in "the cross-cultural study of social ordering". The questions that Legal Anthropologists seek to answer concern how is law present in cultures? How does it manifest? How may anthropologists contribute to understandings of law?
Ward Hunt Goodenough was an American anthropologist, who has made contributions to kinship studies, linguistic anthropology, cross-cultural studies, and cognitive anthropology.
Argonauts of the Western Pacific, subtitled An account of native enterprise and adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea, is a 1922 ethnological work by Bronisław Malinowski, which has had enormous impact on the ethnographic genre. The book is about the Trobriand people who live on the small Kiriwana island chain northeast of the island of New Guinea. It is part of Malinowski's trilogy on the Trobrianders, including The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia (1929) and Coral Gardens and Their Magic (1935).
Sociological and anthropological theories about religion generally attempt to explain the origin and function of religion. These theories define what they present as universal characteristics of religious belief and practice.
This bibliography of anthropology lists some notable publications in the field of anthropology, including its various subfields. It is not comprehensive and continues to be developed. It also includes a number of works that are not by anthropologists but are relevant to the field, such as literary theory, sociology, psychology, and philosophical anthropology.
Annette Barbara Weiner née Cohen was an American anthropologist, Kriser Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University. She was known for her ethnographic work in the Trobriand Islands and her development of the concept of inalienable wealth in social anthropological theory.