Social and Cultural Anthropology

What is Social and Cultural Anthropology?

Social and Cultural Anthropology, previously known as „ Völkerkunde“ in German-speaking Europe, is a subject that concerns itself with societies and their cultures. In the past, the previously referred to “simple“societies beyond European borders stood at the forefront of research interest, whereas anthropologists today concern themselves worldwide with diverse societal processes.

Throughout the course of the discipline’s history, Social and Cultural Anthropology has developed multiple theories and concepts, making it a leading discipline in Cultural Studies. This systematic and comparative field of anthropology is interlinked with research from anthropologists in various societies, an approach known as fieldwork. This period of time can span from months to years of living among people with other cultures and societies, in order to receive a better understanding of their lives.

Social and Cultural Anthropology has two main pillars: One, to be concerned with people in specific countries and regions-- for instance Asia or Africa-- to learn their culture and language, as well as to study their history and present life. Secondly, social and cultural anthropologists compare findings with one another, developing concepts and categories, in order to examine and better understand similarities and differences of human cultures and societies.