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Cultural Anthropology


What is then this ethnographer’s magic, by which he is able to evoke the real spirit of the natives, the true picture of tribal life?” 

Bronislaw Malinowski

Cultural anthropology also called as sociocultural anthropology takes human society and culture as its subject matter.Cultural anthropologists study such cognitive phenomena as beliefs, systems of knowledge, and symbols, as well as such products of human labor as technologies and the arts. They are also interested in human behavior as expressed in social structures and social relations, as well as economic and political systems.

Cultural anthropologists seek to understand the internal logic of another society. It helps outsiders make sense of behaviors that, like face painting or scarification, may seem bizarre or senseless. Through the comparative method, an anthropologist learns to avoid “ethnocentrism,” the tendency to interpret strange customs on the basis of preconceptions derived from one’s own cultural background.

Cultural anthropology shares many things in common with related fields, such as sociology and psychology. What makes it unique, however, is that it examines not only larger social dynamics (similar to sociology's focus on class, gender, ethnicity, etc.) and the ways that people think and feel (similar to psychology's emphasis on human thought), but it also probes deeply into the cross-cultural variation of social behavior and the meanings of fundamental categories such as "man," "woman," "thought," or "mind." This comparative perspective on culture brings into focus the extent of both human diversity and common humanity.

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