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Define Social Anthropology and its relationship with Sociology and Psychology

The most important fact in anthropology is human. Man is the main subject of this scripture. But the question arises that under this subject, which human beings do we study – primitive or present? In its answer, it can be said that the form of the human being in the present age is different from that of primitive.

Define Social Anthropology and its relationship with Sociology and Psychology

Define Anthropology

Anthropology is composed of two Greek words, “Anthropos” and “Logos”. Anthropos means human beings and logos means science, thus in short anthropology means the study of science related to humans.

What is Social Anthropology?

In social anthropology, a human being is considered as a social animal and studies its social organization, social institutions, and social behavior.

  1. Explaining the meaning of social anthropology, Radcliffe Brown wrote – “Social anthropology is the branch of sociology that studies primitive or pre-educated societies.”
  2. Scholars have stated that social systems are studied in sociology and social anthropology is also interested in social systems, but it is particularly studied in primitive societies.
  3. Evans Priyard states that “Social anthropology is the study of all human societies and is not a study of primitive societies only, though, in practice and convenience, its focus today is primarily on simple or primitive people; because it is clear that there is no other separate science that confines itself entirely to the study of these societies. The social anthropologist studies the language, law, religion, politics, organization, and economic system of primitive people. “
  4. Explaining the meaning of social anthropology, Nadell wrote, “The main purpose of social anthropology is to understand the primitive human beings, the culture they have built and the social system in which they live and work.”
  5. According to Piddington, “Social Anthropologists study the cultures of contemporary primitive communities.”
  6. According to S. C. Dubey, Social Anthropology is the part of cultural anthropology which devotes its primary attention to the study of social structure and religion rather than a material aspect of culture.”
  7. According to M. N. Srinivas, Social Anthropology is a comparative study of human societies. Ideally, it includes all societies – primitive, civilized, and historic.”
  8. According to Beals and Hoizer, Social Anthropology is concerned with culture per see, whether it belongs to the primitive men of stone age or the European city dwellers today.”

Social anthropology is a social science. Therefore, it has a close association with other social sciences like Sociology, Psychology, History, Economics, and Political Science.

More: Social Anthropology and its scope

Relation between Social anthropology and Sociology

Society is studied by both social anthropology and sociology. Therefore a close relationship is found between the two. For this reason, it is not possible to draw a clear dividing line between the two.

  • Evans Pritchard even went so far as to say that “social anthropology is a branch of sociological studies that studies primitive societies.”
  • When people use the term sociology, there are studies in their minds about the specific problems of civilized societies. Thus social anthropology specifically studies primitive societies and the sociology of modern civilized societies.
  • The social anthropologist studies the economy of primitive society, their family, kinship, their technology, and arts as a social system, while the sociologist studies different problems like marriages, prostitution, begging and crime, etc.

The study of simple and small primitive societies by social anthropology helps the sociologist to understand the modern complex and civilized society. Similarly, the social problems that sociologists study in specific societies help social anthropologists to construct subconcepts. Sociology, a general component of the theoretical knowledge of human society. This theoretical knowledge is used to understand primitive social life. Thus mutual exchange is found between these two.

Yet, these two sciences are not the same. There is some difference between the two.

Difference between Social anthropology and Sociology

  1. Social anthropology studies primitive societies, while sociology studies civilized societies.
  2. The participatory observation method is used in social anthropology, while the sociologist is faced with the problem of illustration, has to make a schedule or questionnaire, and has to resort to documents and numerical method.
  3. In social anthropology, religion and law, culture and art, custom, social and economic organizations of primitive society are studied, while in sociology, social interactions and social relations arising from them are studied.
Social anthropologySociology
Social anthropology studies primitive societiesSociology studies civilized societies
Method used: participatory observationMethods used:  Schedule or questionnaire
Religion and law, culture and art, custom, social and economic organizations of primitive society is studiedSocial interactions and social relations arising from them are studied.
Table: Difference between Social anthropology and Sociology

Relationship between Social anthropology and Psychology

Both social anthropology and psychology have a deep connection with the practical problem. For this reason, a close relationship between these two is bound to be found. There is a lot of exchange between these two social sciences. Only by understanding human nature and behavior, social systems and various social institutions can be understood properly.

To understand various social institutions under social anthropology, man has to understand, get the correct information regarding his nature and behavior. This information is available only through psychology. Thus social anthropologists are helped by the knowledge gained from psychologists in their studies.

After the development of social psychology, a new branch of psychology, the relation of psychology and social anthropology have become more intimate. Because while social psychology studies human behavior and personality in social and cultural background, social systems and institutions related to these human behaviors and individuals are studied in social anthropology.

Differences between Social anthropology and Psychology

Nevertheless, there are some differences between social anthropology and psychology, which are as follows:

  1. In social anthropology, social structures, systems, and institutions are studied, while in psychology, the behavior or mental processes of man are studied.
  2. Social anthropology focuses on society, while psychology focuses on the individual.
  3. The approach of social anthropology is collective, whereas the view of psychology is individualistic.
Social anthropologyPsychology
In social anthropology, social structures, systems, and institutions are studiedIn psychology, the behavior or mental processes of man are studied.
Focuses on societyFocuses on the individual
Approach is collectiveIndividualistic approach
Table: Differences between Social anthropology and Psychology

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