Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

1: Introduction to Anthropology

  • Page ID
    56345
  • Learning Objectives

    • Identify the four subfields of anthropology and describe the kinds of research projects associated with each subfield.
    • Describe how anthropology developed from early explorations of the world through the professionalization of the discipline in the 19th century.
    • Explain how the perspectives of holism, cultural relativism, comparison, and fieldwork, as well as both scientific and humanistic tendencies, make anthropology a unique discipline.
    • Evaluate the ways in which anthropology can be used to address current social, political, and economic issues.

    • 1.1: What is Anthropology?
      From cultures, to languages, to material remains and human evolution, anthropologists examine every dimension of humanity. This section offers a brief summary of the development of anthropological thinking.
    • 1.2: Anthropological Perspectives
      Anthropologists use unique perspectives to conduct their research. This section looks at the perspectives that make anthropology distinct from related disciplines — like history, sociology, and psychology — that ask similar questions about the past, societies, and human nature.
    • 1.3: Cultural Anthropology and the Other Subfields
      The focus of this textbook is cultural anthropology, the largest of the subfields in the United States as measured by the number of people who graduate with PhDs each year. This section of the chapter introduces the reader to cultural anthropology and looks at the other subdisciplines of anthropology.
    • 1.4: Why is Anthropology Important?
      Anthropology is an exciting and multifaceted field of study. Because of its breadth, students who study anthropology go on to work in a wide variety of careers in medicine, museums, field archaeology, historical preservation, education, international business, documentary filmmaking, management, foreign service, law, and many more.
    • 1.5: End of Chapter Discussion
    • 1.6: About the Authors

    Image: Bagabo Musicians. Philippine Reservation, Department of Anthropology, 1904 World's Fair, 1904, by Jessie Tarbox Beals under Public Domain.