Difference Between Anthropology and Sociology

Anthropology vs Sociology

Anthropology, sociology, and psychology are three social science subjects that study different aspects about mankind. While the subject matter of psychology is clearly demarcated, there is great overlapping between anthropology and sociology, so much so that sometimes it shrinks to studying ‘them v/s us’. Yes, both anthropology and sociology make study of man, his behavior, culture and interactions with the society. Anthropologists focus upon tribes and cultures of colonized people, sociologists work with western, urban societies. There are many similarities and differences between these two subjects within the realms of social sciences and it is differences that will be harped upon in this article.

Both anthropology and sociology attempt to answer questions pertaining to man and his behavior in his society. While anthropology studies man in his entirety, it is society that is at the focus of study in sociology. There are broad classifications of subject matter into archaeology, physical anthropology, linguistic, and cultural anthropology. It is clear that physical anthropology is more concerned with the study of physical features of man such as his height, color of skin, and shape of body and head etc. Archeology is that part of anthropology that is all about digging out artifacts from below the surface of the earth that reveal a lot about man of those times and his interactions with the society. It is involved with making deductions and drawing inferences from the analysis of artifacts and tools. It is cultural anthropology that is closest to sociology and even here there are differences in approach and methodology justify segregating these two social sciences.

Anthropology is concerned with the study of less advanced cultures such as tribes in Africa and Asia, whereas, sociology is more concerned with understanding social structuring in our own societies. Sociology is thus anthropology of one’s own society.

If one goes into basics, one finds that sociology is the scientific study of societies and social relationships. The main purpose of sociologists is to gain an insight into human behavior. How and why human beings behave in a particular manner in a society is the central question in any sociological debate. The changes in the behavior of an individual as a result of being a member of a family, group, society, and a religion are studied deeply in sociology. Why human beings behave the way they do in societies is what sociologists try to unravel.

Anthropology is a broader social science as it studies various aspects about human beings from their physical features, to the study of their artifacts (archeology). However, it is when we talk about social anthropology, also called cultural anthropology, that distinctions between sociology and anthropology begin to blur. The use of linguistics by anthropologists to study human beings is a totally different approach than that adopted by sociologists.

In brief:

Difference between Anthropology and Sociology

• There are many differences right from the subject matter to approach and methodology of sociologists and anthropologists

• While there are sub divisions in anthropology such as physical anthropology, linguistic anthropology, archeology, and cultural anthropology, sociology has one point agenda and that is to study the effect of society on individual and the relationships of human beings and their societies.

• The fundamental difference between sociology and anthropology is that while sociologists study societies, anthropologists study cultures.