Socio-cultural Anthropology

Socio-cultural Anthropology:

It is the study of contemporary living human societies.  It is depend on the concept of “culture” as both a shape of human adaptation to the environment, and particular set of beliefs, practices & concepts that regulates human behavior & thought. Whereas historically, sociocultural anthropologists studied principally the cultures and societies of colonized peoples, since the mid-20th century, the target of the discipline has shifted to involve all contemporary human societies. Nowadays, sociocultural anthropologists study an extensive range of human cultures & subcultures. Typically, it is done through fieldwork and participant observation: living along with a specific cultural group for an extended time period, participating in their cultural activities, and engaging within a formal study of some phases of these activities & behaviors. Sociocultural anthropologists make a living in a number of distinct fields, based on their area of specialization; these involved higher education, public policy, museums, national & state parks, and private industry, where they can help in conducting marketing research & consumer behavior studies.

Traditionally, Social-cultural anthropology dealt along with political economy, kinship and other social dimensions of non-literate, non-western and frequently isolated communities that could be observed in their totality. Today, various social anthropologists also study "western" culture and such aspects of complicated societies as sexuality, gender, ethnic minorities, peasantry and industrial work groups.

Sociocultural anthropology involves the subfields of Applied Anthropology & Folkloristics.


It is the official study of folklore, or traditional expressive culture. Folklorists study and examine the artistic, expressive phase of culture that are shared through members of cultural groups or subgroups, and have stability in time & space. These involved several genres, or kinds, of folklore, such as folktales, legends, myths, ballads & folksongs, jokes, proverbs, folk dance, folk craft & material culture, food ways, ritual & festival. Folklorists research the meaning of these forms in the cultural contexts in which they are found to better understand the desires, values, and creative impulses of the people who generate them.

Applied Anthropology:

This includes the application of anthropological knowledge to address real-world troubles & situations. Applied anthropologists work in fields like diverse such as health care, research, education, and development, immigration reform & addressing immigrant needs, public heritage management, public interest research, museums and national and state parks.  Their aims include facilitating communication among people of diverse backgrounds and larger agencies & institutions, & working for social justice.

There are several other specialized fields of study in social or cultural anthropology. Some of these are: medical, anthropology of art, urban/ economic / rural, anthropology of religion, ethnomusicology, legal, development, political, demographic, ecological, psychological anthropology, etc anthropology .

Mainly due to two unique features sociocultural anthropology is distinct from other disciplines dealing along with culture & society like that means, communication science, sociology and the science of history:

1) The technique of long-lasting participant observation (Spradley 1980), or its radicalized form called thick participation (Spittler 2001), that make an existential modification of one’s vantage point possible.

2) All of the concepts and theories of sociocultural anthropology were gained & shaped in a procedure of trying to understand cultures, which are totally different from the so called Western or European ones. It makes the concepts & theories less prone to be overly infected by Western cultural bias.

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