In the world of Science, there are many fields of study that deals with every aspect of the world. In Social Science discipline, the past and the present study of humankind is called Anthropology. This study builds and draws upon the knowledge from the biological sciences and social sciences, and even the natural sciences and humanities. This purpose of this writing is to discuss the primary characteristics of Anthropology as a discipline, which includes comparativism, holism, fieldwork and culture. Each of these characteristics has its own importance as well as its own contributions in the field of Anthropology.
Our culture has high variations of similarities and differences. That is why, comparative approaches should not fall prey to uncultured generalization regarding the specific trend or pattern, because it might not refer to another culture. On the other hand, the one of the primary characteristics of Anthropology, attempts to examine some of the underlying reasons through cross-cultural analysis as to how and why individual or cultural differences and similarities exist. Comparativism is one of the Anthropology’s characteristics that analyses the differences and similarities between the human beings (Lassiter 41). In comparativism, cultural and biological complexities are being used to evaluate such similarities and differences. The importance of this characteristic is that it is being used to make generalizations among human beings regarding their complexity. Additionally, in Anthropology, the comparativism contribution is that it enables to understand and give meaning to the general trends, which make the human life as it is, from their evolution to being part of the society.
On the other hand, Holism is another perspective that highlights the whole or the general idea, instead of its parts (Lassiter 40). Generally, the holistic perspective provides an understanding about the society or culture’s big picture. However, it can normally be lost just by merely on details. Moreover, in anthropology, this characteristic encourages people to understand humanity as both cultural and biological beings that live from the past until the present period. The importance of holism is that it reminds us that whether or not we are archaeological, biological, cultural, or linguistic anthropologists, this discipline teach us how to understand humankind and their condition by looking at all it complexities. Holism’s contribution is also an important symbol of modern ethnography (Campbell 76). Holism perspective in anthropology is now being used to form a new policy or to develop the existing policies in terms of human health and population. Another importance of the holism approach in anthropology is that it can relate to dispelling of the factorial model’s notion. As such, the factorial model sees the culture in seclusion from all the other existing factors. Therefore, generalization in terms of policy making could be an advantage when it comes to the evaluation of the society.
Another primary characteristic of Anthropology is the culture or the cultural anthropology. This is the study of the living humankinds, including their beliefs, values, practices, economies, technologies and more (commnet.edu). Using a variety of theories and approaches, modern anthropologists are studying the cultures of the people throughout the world that involves countless societies. In anthropology, culture is the living societies around us. It is the classification of different people that have different cultural beliefs and practices. The importance of culture in anthropology is that people are able to know why and how such beliefs exist in every culture in order to know their historical background as well as knowing the behavioural aspect of their lives. Culture’s contribution to anthropology made the discipline to be aware of various cultures so as to determine the appropriate approach in understanding their beliefs. In addition, culture has led many anthropologists to understand many people when it comes to gender and ethnic studies. In addition, culture in anthropology has provided its contribution in gaining information for people that are involve with independent research as well as academic research institutes (aaanet.org).
The fourth characteristic of anthropology is the fieldwork. It ordinarily encompasses being into the community under study, it involves communicating with the community’s local language as well as living with people in close contact (tripod.com). One of the importance of this anthropology characteristic is that it exposes anthropologists to the environment and society under study. In this case, there would be intimate interactions between the members of the society and the anthropologists. The contribution of fieldwork in anthropology discipline enables it to provide accurate information especially to those who are involved in research for scholarly journals and books. It is when the actual information gathering that comes from the actual subject.
Anthropology is a broad study of humankind. It encompasses various sub-studies that make this discipline focused to human’s cultural, behavioural, and even ethnographical aspects. Using these four primary characteristics of anthropology, people are becoming more aware how different members of the various societies are living their life based on their historical and cultural background. As such, it is the event in which we become more aware of our own culture.
American Anthropological Association. "What is Anthropology?" American Anthropological Association (AAA). N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://www.aaanet.org/about/whatisanthropology.cfm>.
Campbell, D. "Anthropology's Contribution to Public Health Policy Development." MJM 13.1 (2010): 76-83. Print.
Fasnafan: A Minor Library in Sociology, Anthropology and the Humanities. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 June 2014. <http://fasnafan.tripod.com/thestudyofhumanity.pdf>.
Lassiter, Luke E. Invitation to Anthropology. 4th ed. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, 2014. Print.
Quinebaug Valley Community College. "Types of Cultures." Welcome to QVCC. N.p., 2 Sept. 2002. Web. 4 June 2014.