How Much Do You Know About Anthropology?



9 Questions

What is cultural anthropology?

What is cultural relativism?

What is participant observation?

What is ethnography?

What is multi-sited ethnography?

What is the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF)?

What is kinship?

What is institutional anthropology?

What is participant observation's role in studying institutions?


Cultural Anthropology: A Summary

  • Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology that focuses on the study of cultural variation among humans.

  • Anthropologists have pointed out that through culture, people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will often have different cultures.

  • Cultural anthropology has a rich methodology, including participant observation, interviews, and surveys.

  • The rise of cultural anthropology took place within the context of the late 19th century, when questions regarding which cultures were "primitive" and which were "civilized" occupied the mind of many.

  • Anthropology is concerned with the lives of people in different parts of the world, particularly in relation to the discourse of beliefs and practices.

  • Cultural relativism involves specific epistemological and methodological claims.

  • Cultural relativism was in part a response to Western ethnocentrism.

  • The rubric cultural anthropology is generally applied to ethnographic works that are holistic in approach.

  • Lewis Henry Morgan became an advocate for and ethnological scholar of the Iroquois.

  • Franz Boas established academic anthropology in the United States in opposition to Morgan's evolutionary perspective.

  • Alfred Kroeber, Robert Lowie, Edward Sapir, and Ruth Benedict each produced richly detailed studies of indigenous North American cultures.

  • Economic anthropology challenged standard neoclassical economics to take account of cultural and social factors and employed Marxian analysis into anthropological study.Overview of Sociocultural Anthropology

  • Sociocultural anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that studies the ways in which culture shapes social behavior and beliefs.

  • Anthropologists such as Jean and John Comaroff emphasized the importance of understanding the relationship between culture, sociocultural structure, and individual agency in the processes of historical transformation.

  • Clifford Geertz, David Schneider, and Marshall Sahlins developed a more fleshed-out concept of culture as a web of meaning or signification.

  • Geertz's interpretive method involved "thick description," where cultural symbols are "read" by the anthropologist as if they are a document in a foreign language.

  • Participant observation is one of the principal research methods of cultural anthropology and involves interacting closely with a group of people over a long period of time to understand their culture.

  • Ethnography is a piece of writing about a people, at a particular place and time, and is a holistic piece of writing about the people in question.

  • Cross-cultural comparison is a means by which anthropologists combat ethnocentrism and test so-called "human universals" against the ethnographic record.

  • Multi-sited ethnography is a growing trend in anthropological research and analysis that combines a focus on the local with an effort to grasp larger political, economic, and cultural frameworks that impact local lived realities.

  • Multi-sited ethnography uses traditional methodology in various locations both spatially and temporally.

  • Multi-sited ethnography may also follow ethnic groups in diaspora, stories or rumors that appear in multiple locations and in multiple time periods, metaphors that appear in multiple ethnographic locations, or the biographies of individual people or groups as they move through space and time.

  • The Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) is a research agency based at Yale University that encourages and facilitates worldwide comparative studies of human culture, society, and behavior in the past and present.

  • Today, anthropologists pay attention to a wide variety of issues pertaining to the contemporary world, including globalization, medicine and biotechnology, indigenous rights, virtual communities, and the anthropology of industrialized societies.Kinship Studies in Anthropology

  • Kinship refers to the anthropological study of the ways in which humans form and maintain relationships with one another, and how those relationships operate within and define social organization.

  • Anthropologists have written extensively on the variations within marriage across cultures and its legitimacy as a human institution.

  • In the twenty-first century, Western ideas of kinship have evolved beyond the traditional assumptions of the nuclear family, raising anthropological questions of consanguinity, lineage, and normative marital expectation.

  • Kinship studies have also experienced a rise in the interest of reproductive anthropology with the advancement of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), including in vitro fertilization (IVF).

  • Western biases against single parent homes have also been explored through similar anthropological research, uncovering that a household with a single parent experiences "greater levels of scrutiny and [is] routinely seen as the 'other' of the nuclear, patriarchal family".

  • The role of anthropology in institutions has expanded significantly since the end of the 20th century.

  • The two types of institutions defined in the field of anthropology are total institutions and social institutions.

  • Anthropology of institutions may analyze labor unions, businesses ranging from small enterprises to corporations, government, medical organizations, education, prisons, and financial institutions.

  • Institutional anthropology may also focus on the inner workings of an institution, such as the relationships, hierarchies and cultures formed, and the ways that these elements are transmitted and maintained, transformed, or abandoned over time.

  • In all manifestations of institutional anthropology, participant observation is critical to understanding the intricacies of the way an institution works and the consequences of actions taken by individuals within it.

  • Common considerations taken by anthropologists in studying institutions include the physical location at which a researcher places themselves.

  • The ability of individuals to present the workings of an institution in a particular light or frame must be taken into account when using interviews and document analysis to understand an institution.


Test your knowledge of anthropology with this informative quiz that covers three key areas of the field: cultural anthropology, sociocultural anthropology, and kinship studies. From the history of cultural anthropology to the modern-day issues anthropologists are exploring, you'll learn about the theories, methodologies, and concepts that define the discipline. Whether you're a student of anthropology or simply interested in learning more about the topic, this quiz is a great way to challenge yourself and expand your knowledge.

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