About Anthropology and Why It Is Important

Direct Knowlege Contributor Taylor Bauer
  • By Taylor Bauer, Technical Writer & Digital Marketing Expert
  • Taylor is a writer and SEO manager with a B.S. in Political Communication from Illinois State University. He also received his M.S. in Communications from Illinois State. His background comes from journalism, working at an NPR member station for three years before transitioning to blogging and search engine marketing. He lives in Illinois with his wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards.

About Anthropology

How do you connect the days of hunters and gatherers to our modern world? The study of development within human tribes and communities is a vibrant area of historical significance. Many jobs and degree programs teach types of anthropology to students to determine the biological and social progress of our species.

Anthropology is the study of human progress throughout history. Through the study of ancient civilization and artifacts, experts determine what sorts of tools and practices the earliest humans utilized. By doing so, professionals draw a historical timeline of humankind to understand the evolution of the species better.

If you want to pursue jobs involved in studying the progress of humans, then anthropology is the best sort of degree to obtain. Here are the different types of anthropology and the main ideas behind this rich subject of knowledge.

Anthropology Articles on History and Background

Anthropology jobs study the roots and behaviors of humankind that make our species unique. From our evolutionary pasts to our modern present, from the individual to society. Although it doesn’t focus so much on culture—sociology takes charge of that area.

Anthropology jobs focus more on other aspects of humans like our physical traits, environmental and social relations, and general culture. It is particularly interested in how these things have changed over time, making archaeology and other historical record analysis an essential part of the field. In this category of Direct Knowledge, you’ll find various anthropology articles exploring the history and topics of the area, the main issues within it, and new developments on the horizon.

The term anthropology originally appeared in Renaissance Germany, but first started being used in English in the early 18th century. At first, it was only sporadically in use but increasingly gained popularity. By the mid-1800s, multiple organizations of anthropologists formed in the US and Europe. Some of the main goals of these organizations were defending human rights, such as opposing slavery.

19th Century Developments to Biological Anthropology

Throughout the 19th century, studies in linguistics, anatomy, history, and ethnic studies began contributing more to biological anthropology. Theorists in these fields saw many similarities between diverse groups of people often thought to be entirely different from one another. And not just similarities between people; they saw that animals and humans might not be so different from one another either. They started to explore the pathways through which these similarities appeared in people, languages, cultures, and species.

Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species was a culmination and affirmation of many of the suspicions that had arisen concerning the similarities between species. Much of the focus of theorists at this point became the goal of determining what distinguishes humans explicitly from other animals. Aspects such as speech, civilization, psychology, and anatomy were considered the keys to this distinction. Throughout the end of the 19th century, the number of official anthropological societies and organizations increased dramatically.

Now, biological anthropology has reached a global level of proliferation with many subdivisions. Anthropology jobs and articles that exist cover many topics and platforms. Some of the newer fields of research include gender equality and multiculturalism, but in general, there are four main fields. Below you’ll find brief descriptions of the four tracks as well as links to articles with further details.

Main Subdivisions of Anthropology Articles

Biological

Anthropology jobs focus on the physical aspects of humans. It especially looks at the physical differences and similarities between humans and other species of animals. These differences include the species that humans originate from, making evolution a vital part of the discipline. You can find biological anthropology articles here. The branches are paleoanthropology, human biology, primatology, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, paleopathology, and bioarchaeology.

Archaeological

Archaeology is the study of specific human remains and activities from the past. This field usually involves the recovery of items or analysis of landscapes affected by humans. Through looking at these things from the past, we can determine how people lived and events that happened to them or that they directly caused. Archaeology is particularly critical when written records don’t exist either from destructive events or from the lack of record-keeping altogether. This field is sometimes considered its distinct discipline from types of biological anthropology. Depending on the region, the close relationship between the two is undeniable.

Sociocultural

Anthropology jobs look at the sociological and cultural aspects of the field. This subsect means looking at how humans interact with one another and their surroundings. The types of sociocultural anthropology articles here involve psychology, philosophy, literature, and history. Studying these areas helps us understand the differences between societies so that we can better accept them. These differences are increasingly crucial in today’s age of globalization, where so much mixing of cultures is taking place the world over. Some of the main areas of study are kinship, law and conflict resolution, consumption and exchange patterns, material culture, technology, gender, ethnicity, religion, and social, economic, and political organization.

Linguistic

Because the human ability to speak is generally unique, we focus significantly on understanding its origins and characteristics. Although the ability to speak verbally isn’t the only remarkable characteristic in this field. Non-verbal communication through signs, gestures, and writing are also critical both today and in the evolution of language and communication. Related areas that often found in types of linguistic anthropology articles are cognitive linguistics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, and pragmatics. This field also looks at modern language and communication between cultures. This topic makes anthropology an essential part of international relations and peacekeeping.

A Degree and Careers in Anthropology

A job in this field might be a good fit if you’re interested in different cultures throughout the place and time. It’s also best if you are open to new ideas and ways of thinking. After all, the job will likely involve interaction with foreign cultures and methods of living.

The tasks of the job itself can range far and wide and include a range of positions. Anthropologists generally work for the government, consulting firms, or research organizations. They might perform hands-on work in laboratories or the field, mainly if specializing in archaeology. Some potential positions might include attorney, professor, human resource representative, media planner, or international relations positions.

Before starting a career in the field, one would need a master’s degree in anthropology, and potentially a Ph.D. as well. Working after only obtaining a bachelor’s could be possible, but limits opportunities to lower positions such as assistant positions and fieldwork. The median pay for master’s degree holders is over 60,000 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a small amount of growth in the field.

All of these factors depend on the specific areas of education and work. You can understand what anthropologists are capable of by checking out the articles in this category. Use them to supplement classes for students who are getting into the field, or keep the curious mind up to date.

Anthropology Books

What truly makes us human is somewhat up for debate, and always has been. Some say we can create and use language. Some say our interconnected societies and the ability to work together. Others see it as a purely biological feature resulting from evolution. These biological anthropology books delve into the details of the college degree, looking at how they relate to people and society and how that relationship has changed over time.

Anthropology Books Archaeology Researcher Reconstructing Ancient Tool

A Look at People Through Time and Space

To study anthropology means studying the meaning of culture, behavior, and societies through time. Big and small, ancient and modern; all organizations can teach us a great deal. And learning about people from the past can shed light on our way of life today. We might rediscover methods of living and doing things that disappeared over time. Or, maybe we can learn from the mistakes that others made and be able to avoid the same blunders.

Culture and Relationships Between People

One essential part of this field is the cultural aspect. After all, a lot of what happens to people and societies has to do with their culture. Entire civilizations have fallen because they had customs and ways of life that clashed with their environment. Alternatively, different cultures have violently clashed with one another to cause problems. You can read fascinating stories about such events in anthropology books such as An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. There you’ll not only learn the history but also learn the why behind it and how we can alter our behavior today to avoid the same fates.

Similarly, The Art of Being Human gives beginners an inspiring but essential view of the discipline. It even has an accompanying online course by the same author to cover the material as thoroughly as possible. In addition to learning fascinating facts about the past of humans, readers also learn applicable skills. They’ll participate in challenges at the end of each of ten lessons to solidify their knowledge as well as get the tools for doing their research after finished reading the book.

Getting Technical

Although an anthropology degree focuses mostly on culture, it still has many types of scientific focus. Through the books in this category, you can explore these various topics and discover how they relate to one another. For example, some of the main issues in the field are biology and archaeology, which sit alongside linguistics and sociocultural studies. They can get into the details of the skeletal structure, diet, psychology, and physical evolution of our ancestors, but always relate these factors to how they affect society. It’s an exciting mix of humanities and sciences, sitting somewhere in the middle.

What You Can Gain From Anthropology Books

Scientific or not, reading books on the topic of anthropology can increase your knowledge about subjects such as history, law, culture, linguistics, and the methods used in the field. But it’s about more than just learning facts and information. In a modern sense, anthropology strikes a balance between studying the differences between people as well as the things we all have in common. That is, using critical thinking and analysis to understand people and society at a deeper level, understanding how we interact with each other, and why.

Some issues in anthropology today include the treatment of indigenous groups experiencing either isolation or forced integration. Globalization as a whole presents many problems in need of understanding. An ever an increasing “us” vs. “them” mentality poses threats to the peaceful integration of the world.

However, many describe anthropology as “the art of making the familiar exotic, and the exotic familiar.” Keep this in mind as you’re looking through potential reading material. Consider that topics that look familiar are likely to hold many new ideas to expand your account. Similarly, items that might sound like they’re not your speed give a perfect chance to become familiar with something new.

Anthropology FAQ

Curious about the different types of anthropology you can study with a college degree? Read these questions to increase your basic understanding of the subject.

What is the study of anthropology?

The study of anthropology is the process of tracking and documenting human progress over time. Different branches of the subject cover social, physical, and linguistic developments within the species. Anthropology sorts out a timeline of growth to increase knowledge about the behaviors, beliefs, and activities throughout the history of man.

What can you do with a degree in anthropology?

A degree in anthropology opens up many opportunities to study artifacts and documents of humankind’s evolution. Many anthropology students and professionals go on to work in museums or conduct field research. Others use their knowledge to develop interactive media projects to help teach the public about different findings in the field.

What are the examples of anthropology?

Anthropology examples include the study of different artifacts and findings uncovered during research and fieldwork. Many anthropologists write research papers on various discoveries to circulate amongst colleagues. Other examples include museum exhibits to inform the public on different practices humans used in the past. Likewise, anthropologists also work on documentaries and movies to uphold accuracy.

Is there a demand for anthropologists?

There is a demand for anthropologists in academia and research to continue developing a well-rounded knowledge of human progress. Many fields, including history, natural science, and sociology, utilize anthropology to develop better theories and basis for learning. The pool of anthropologists working now helps produce significant research, and there is always a demand for more professionals in the field.