What are the Similarities between Sociology and Anthropology?

What is the Meaning of Sociology and Anthropology? Why is it Important for an Anthropologist to study a Culture? What are the Similarities between Anthropology and Psychology?
What are the Similarities between Sociology and Anthropology
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Humans are complex creatures and so are their mental and psychological processes. To understand this complexity, social sciences were invented. This umbrella term has branches which study human beings from every walk of life. Everything goes to some questions related to humans now and humans then. How has the relationship been made? Are there similarities between sociology and anthropology? Is the study of culture different for sociologists than for anthropologists? This article aims to answer these questions.

1. What is the Sociological Perspective of Culture?

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The sociological perspective is a term used in psychology wherein it indicates the approach which understands human behaviour by rightfully placing it within the broader social context. Each and every individual is different even if they have the same culture and this in turn influences the beliefs and behaviours distinctively. Culture not only influences the language of a person but in some ways an individual’s behaviour as well. The people who pursue their careers in this field are known as sociologists and they try to learn and understand the biological explanations of these very behaviours. (See What are the elements of culture in sociology?)

2. Why is it Important for an Anthropologist to study a Culture?

After understanding the sociological perspective of culture, let us understand why is it important for an anthropologist to study a culture. Anthropology is the study of human existence and how societies and cultures function as well as their development through evolution. The people who study anthropology are known as anthropologists and the reason why it is important for an anthropologist to study a culture is that they need to look at and understand the past to keep track of the changes and evolution taking place.

Among the two types of anthropological study, cultural anthropology is one of them which is a study of the cultural aspects of the society which includes the practices, beliefs, language, and dress which helps you to know the thought process and patterns regarding why and how the people think. (See What are youth subcultures today?)

3. How do Anthropologists study Culture?

To know about the culture from the perspective of an anthropologist, there are many field works and visits to these particular regions which help them know better. Ethnographic fieldwork as is known in scientific terms studies a culture by going to the place where it originates or pertains today. A few other methods are:

  • Interview: This is an important method wherein anthropologists have a conversation with the people of the culture they want to study and ask relevant questions.
  • Survey: This is a method in which information is gathered either through a verbal question-answering process or by distributing questionnaires. Questions related to specific topics are asked to know the data.
  • Participant observation: This is when the anthropologists themselves live in the region and become part of the place to know more about the culture. They live, eat, and try to perform similar tasks as the people of the culture. 

4. What is the Meaning of Sociology and Anthropology?

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Before understanding the similarities between sociology and anthropology, let us first explain the meaning of these two terms. Sociology is defined as the study of social life, social change, social problems and the functioning of human society. A few examples of the same are the studying and understanding of gender and its dynamics, racial issues, and the development of social movements. In contrast, anthropology is known to be the study of the societies and cultures of humans and their development. This includes the study of evolution, language, societies, biology and behaviour of primates and present-day humans. (See Which is an example of cultural diffusion?)

5. What are the Similarities between Anthropology and Social Science?

One can say that social science is an umbrella under which anthropology is just a part. Social science is defined as the study of human society and its relationships which consists of all types of relationships and developments from history to economics and politics. On the other hand, the study of anthropology is regarding a particular aspect of social science which is related to the study of humans and how they have evolved. (See How does Society Shape the Lives of People inside It?)

6. What are the Similarities between Sociology and Anthropology?

In the earlier question, the meanings were discussed so let’s look into the similarities between sociology and anthropology.

Both of them are subtypes of social science. Anthropology and sociology have a systematic study of human life and culture for understanding the causes and consequences of human action. They study both traditional cultures as well as industrialist societies. These are the similarities between sociology and anthropology. (See How is a Society Formed?)

7. How is the Study of Culture different for Sociologists than for anthropologists?

Since you know the similarities between sociology and anthropology, note that culture is the same for anthropologists and sociologists but the way they perceive and study is where the difference comes in. Anthropology is the study of the societies and cultures of humans and their development, so this includes the physiological and biological study of their evolution. Sociology on the other hand focuses on the social relationships between humans and other institutions. While anthropology looks into the ancestors to understand culture and environment, sociology looks into the social interactions and society at a particular time. (See How can Individuals Contribute to bringing Change in Society?)

8. How does a Sociologist Differ from an Anthropologist?

Now that you are aware of the similarities between sociology and anthropology and know whether is the study of culture different for sociologists than for anthropologists, let’s understand how they differ from each other. Sociologists study the social problems and institutions which take a holistic view of society and take an external look into understanding the thinking of human societies by beginning at the macro level. They try to understand how human beings are affected by society by focusing on more quantitative data.

Anthropologists on the other hand look into the culture and communities which have been based on non-western societies and try to look at both the external and internal approaches by taking the path at the micro level. (See What is the Purpose of Society?)

9. What are the Similarities between Sociology and Psychology?

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Psychology is another aspect that comes under social science which is defined as the scientific study of the mind of human beings and its functions, which is also known as the mental characteristics or attitudes of individuals.  Sociology, however, is a study of human social relationships. Even though both are different types of social science, they require similar skills which include analysing qualitative and quantitative data research and critical thinking with the ability to communicate clearly in any given setting. Must read Why is Quantitative Research Important?

10. What are the Similarities between Anthropology and Psychology?

The similarities between anthropology and psychology start from knowing the definitions of both of them. Anthropology is a term which is the study of human existence and how societies and cultures function as well as their development through evolution. Psychology is another aspect that comes under social science which is defined as the scientific study of the mind of human beings and its functions. The similarity that stands out is that anthropology is considered a comparative and analytical study of behaviours and experiences of humans and psychology is the relationship between humans and the environment.

Humans are still looking for answers related to self, the environment, culture, and so many other things which also include social sciences and the similarities between sociology and anthropology and the sociological perspective of culture. There is no end to these and we will keep on going around these and understanding more and more as we go. (Also read How does Society Influence You?)

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