Subfields In Anthropology As They Relate to Society and Culture

Anthropology exists out of our innate desire to understand our own existence and how it is affected by the world we live in. This innate desire unites us in our humanity. Although societies and cultures can have such significant differences, anthropology demonstrates how common thread our ideals to understand and conceptualize really are. Our desire and ideals creates a framework for our societies and cultures. Culture is a shared common beliefs, interests, and behaviors by a group of individuals. These beliefs can include historical, physical, and verbal context.

A society is defined as a group of beings living together in an ordered community with a shared culture. Within societies subcultures are commonly observed, these are cultures within cultures. Different organizations of thought within a subject of academia are known as subcultures. Anthropologists are an example of an academic society. Within the subject of anthropology there are four main subcultures or subfields that provide essential perspectives for a complete study of humanity. The four subfields of anthropology are cultural, physical, archeology, and linguistics:

1. Cultural anthropology studies humans from a cultural perspective. Using analytical methods that focus on an unbiased approach, cultural anthropologists study different cultures. This study includes what makes cultures unique, what has made them successful, and what is challenging for the group. From a cultural perspective what is either an advantage or disadvantage for a group may be an ability to cooperate or compete.

2. Physical anthropology, also known as biological anthropology, relates to the biological study of humans. An example of this is the genetic comparison in humans through the study of human DNA. Physical anthropology tells the story of our common ancestry and how we have evolved as groups to be successful in a changing world.

3. Archeology provides a historical study of humans; telling the story of our history through careful excavations and examinations of ‘finds,’ deriving information from their geographical locations, similarities, and time periods. Archeology explains aspects of how passed cultures related while demonstrating our similarities even to this day.

4. Linguistic anthropologists study humans from the perspective of language. This subfield tell the story of how we came to speak the languages that we speak and why languages are similar and different. It also indicates how individuals within cultures relate to one another in either verbal or embodied communications.

Anthropology demonstrates how although there are many perspectives in which we can interpret humanity, culture and society, these different perspectives are essential to having a complete understanding of our existence. In fact it would be impossible to effectively understand the human condition without the considerations provided by subcultures. The subfields in anthropology are seemingly quite different in topic and method of study, yet they are all related under the umbrella of anthropology.

When we look at what each sub study in anthropology, we can readily see why each sub study is an integral piece to the entire picture of human study. For this reason the subfields are necessary to make a complete study of humans and subcultures are essential in society. The key lesson of this comparison is to focus on how each perspective is supportive of the other toward our common desires as well as our uncommon ideals. The anthropological perspective has an unbiased quality that we can stand to cultivate as individuals.

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