Anthropology is a unique discipline that studies people in all times and all places. “One of anthropology’s striking characteristics is its capacity to reinvent itself. Every decade, there are new theoretical questions, new methodologies and new domains of research,” (Merry 2007:16).
Anthropology is comprised of four sub-fields: sociocultural anthropology, linguistics, archaeology and physical anthropology. Anthropologists are involved in diverse research agendas that range from digging ancient archaeological sites to examining people’s attachments to natural environments, and conducting market research for developing businesses. Sometimes considered a fifth sub-discipline, applied anthropology is yet another area of study that allows anthropologists to apply theories and methods to solve real-world problems.
Anthropologists employ a wide array of theoretical and methodological constructs that range from humanistic to social and natural scientific approaches. They are particularly well-known for establishing ethnographic field methods, such as participant observation wherein the researchers stay with and often live among the people whom they are studying. This immersion technique allows the anthropologist to glean diverse real-world experiences.
Merry, Sally Engle, 2007. “As We Revamp Our Communications and Public Programs,” Anthropology News 48(4):16-17.
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