Essay on the relationship between Sociology and Anthropology

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Robert Redfied writes that viewing the whole United States, one say that the relations between sociology and anthropology are closer than those between anthropology and political science, that is partly due to greater similarity in ways of work.

Anthropology is a general science like sociology.’The word ‘anthropology’ is derived from two Greek words, ‘anthropos’ and ‘logos’ meaning the study of man.

More precisely, it is defined by Kroeber as the science of man and his works and behaviour. Anthropology is concerned not with particular man but with man in groups with races and peoples and their happenings and doings.

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There is a great deal of similarities between anthropology and sociology. A number of subjects include society, culture, family religion, social stratification, etc. For this reason an eminent anthropologist like A.L. Kroeber regards “Sociology and Anthropology as twin sisters” Etymologically, anthropology means the study of the science of man.

It traces the development of human race, and studies, in particular, the primitive preliterate people and their culture. Anthropologists are sure that anthropology is deeply concerned with the physical and cultural development of human beings from the time of their origin to this day.

There cannot be two opinions about the fact that the field of its investigation is very vast. Its major divisions are as follows.

(i) Physical Anthropology

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Physical anthropology is concerned with the characteristics of human anatomy. Their physical characteristics provide adequate knowledge about human race and the origin of human beings.

(ii) Archaeological or Historical Anthropology

It aims at the reconstruction of the social life of pre-historic man. In other words, pre-history deals with the cultures of the pre­historic period so that they can understand the present social structure better.

(iii) Cultural Anthropology

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Cultural Anthropology, in the main is concerned with the material and non-material culture of the pre-literate human beings. In other words, it concentrates on the study of the primitive man’s culture the primitive man of the past and of the present times.

(iv) Social Anthropology

Social Anthropology studies man as a social being. It has been rightly said that ‘social anthropology deals with the behaviour of man in social situations.’ According to some scholars, ‘Social anthropology and sociology are in their broad sense, one and the same’. There are others who regard it as a branch of sociology.

Apart from these major divisions there are quite a few branches of Anthropology as well. These branches can be described as human evolution or the study of fossil man and linguistics.

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Anthropology not only study the fossil man but also investigates the characteristics of the different culture groups and their changes through the study of language which the human beings of the pre-literate and historical periods used.

All this goes to show that anthropology is a very vast subject and it is deeply concerned with the man and his culture as it developed in the remote past. Dr. S.C. Dube does not find any difference between sociology and anthropology. He thinks that the two disciplines are identical, but in fact, there are some differences between the two disciplines.

It is sociology which concerns itself with the same phenomena as they exist at present. Anthropology concentrates on man as he is. On the other hand sociology analyses man as social animal. It is an indispensable fact that sociologists in their attempt to understand the social phenomena of present times, draw upon the knowledge of the past.

Nor can it be denied that they, in their desire to study man and society, make the best use of the invaluable data furnished by anthropological researches.

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In the same way the data obtained by sociologists have immediately benefitted anthropologists. Thus there is no use of stressing on the fact that Sociology and Anthropology are closely related to each other and are inter-dependent.

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