The 4 Fields of Anthropology

The 4 Fields of Anthropology

As you learned in the last post, Anthropology is the study of humans, in all times and all places. (If you didn?t read the last post, click here to read it.)

Since Anthropology studies all of humanity, that?s a lot of stuff to study. So, the discipline of Anthropology is broken down into 4 parts (at least in the USA; other countries may be different). Each part, called a field, focuses on a certain aspect of humanity.

The 4 fields of Anthropology are:

  1. Cultural Anthropology (also known as Social Anthropology)
  2. Physical Anthropology (also known as Biological Anthropology)
  3. Archaeology
  4. Anthropological Linguistics

Cultural Anthropology

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Cultural Anthropology is the study of human cultures all around the world.

Culture includes behavior and ideas, and includes topics like clothing, food, housing, marriage & families, political structure, economics, religion, art, and much more.

There are many sub-fields in Cultural Anthropology, and here?s just a few examples:

  1. Legal Anthropology (the study of law in other cultures)
  2. Business Anthropology (applying Anthropology to business)
  3. Environmental Anthropology (the study of humans and the environment).
  4. Medical Anthropology (the study of health and illness)

Physical Anthropology

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Physical Anthropology is the study of the human body. It includes:

  1. Paleoanthropology (studying human biological evolution)
  2. Human Variation & Adaptation(studying physical differences among humans, and how humans have adapted to their environment)
  3. Forensic Anthropology (studying human remains [human bones])
  4. Primatology (studying the category of primates, since we as humans are primates. Other primates include chimpanzees and gorillas.)


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Archaeology is the study of what humans left behind, through excavation (digging things up).

This includes prehistoric archaeology(studying the past of people who don?t have writing), and historic archaeology(studying the past of people who dohave writing.)

There is even such as thing as underwater archaeology, where archaeologists excavate things under water, like shipwrecks!

Anthropological Linguistics

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Anthropological Linguistics is the study of human language. This includes verbal and non-verbal communication. Here?s some examples of things Linguistics involves:

  1. semantics (the meanings of words, phrases, and sentences)
  2. syntax (the structure of phrases and sentences)
  3. morphology (word formation)
  4. phonology (the sounds of language)
  5. language acquisition (learning a language)
  6. language variation (varieties of a language)

Applied Anthropology

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So, those are the 4 fields of Anthropology. A sort of ?5th? field is called Applied Anthropology.

Applied Anthropology uses these 4 fields of Anthropology to solve real-world problems.

For example, a Corporate Anthropologist works with a company, doing market research to find out what consumers like and dislike.

Are you interested in more information on the 4 fields of Anthropology? Check out this page of the American Anthropological Association?s website here.


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