Comparing Anthropology, Sociology, And Psychology Schools Of Thought

2541 words - 10 pages

AnthropologyWhat Recession? Where are my Possessions?Anthropology in essence is the study of human species and human culture. What must be understood is that culture is more than a series of accepted customs. Culture identifies society's ways of living through tradition, inventions, and conventions. The study of anthropology has been separated into four subdivisions, physical, archaeology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology (Lindsay). Physical anthropology studies the natural history of human species. Accordingly, the major focus of the field is on problems of human evolution, adaptation and variation. Archaeology focuses on past human life and culture by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence such as artifacts, skeletal remains, fossils and objects of human workmanship. Linguistics identifies an interdisciplinary field dedicated to the study of language as a cultural resource and speaking as a cultural practice. Cultural anthropology studies cultural variation among humans, and examines the impact of global economic and political processes on local cultural realities (Fergusson, 29-32). These four areas of focus make up the North American interpretation of Anthropology. Likewise, just as culture differs in different societies, the methods of anthropology take different variations in different time periods and civilizations. No better an example than Franz Boas 'Bosnian anthropology' who were politically active and suspicious of research dictated by the U.S. government and wealthy patrons. It was rigorously empirical and skeptical of overgeneralizations and attempts to establish universal laws (Johnson 1). Boas studied immigrant children to demonstrate that biological race was not immutable, and that human conduct and behavior resulted from nurture, rather than nature. Therefore, the study of anthropology is by no means universal, which makes anthropology unique from all other social sciences. Just as every culture is unique, the methods of researching these cultures are ultimately unique as well.Cultural materialism identifies technological and economic factors as the most important in molding a society. The theory of determinism is a materialist suggestion that the types of technology and economic methods that are adopted either determine, or play a significant role in the type of society that develops. Therefore, cultural materialists see things like government, religion, law, and kinship as a component that must be beneficial to the productive and reproductive capabilities of society, or else they would not exist. For example, the introduction of metallurgy (study of metals) was selected by societies because it allowed for an increase in food production and trade. Cultural materialism is an expansion of the Marxist model of three levels of culture (infrastructure, structure, and superstructure). Unlike Marxist theory, however, cultural materialism privileges both productive (economic) and reproductive (demographic)...

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