The Anthropology was born the concerns of some thinkers to establish scientific nature of knowledge about man as a gregarious being and producer of culture.

In this way, Anthropology can be defined as a human science focused on the knowledge of the nexuses of social order among men understood both by the physical (natural) need for coexistence between beings and by the contents of the cultural sphere (artifices) undertaken in human relations.

By this definition, it can be concluded that there are two directions of anthropological science: a physical (biological) and a cultural (social) anthropology . Biological anthropology is classified as a natural science, while cultural anthropology is understood as a social science.

Biological and cultural anthropology

Although there is a distinction between physical and cultural anthropology, the two “sciences” communicate, since natural anthropological science allows the understanding of the possibilities of social interaction among men, studies the evolutionary process of species and illuminates, through comparative studies, the relationships of communities primates, among other aspects.

Such studies can be used by the social anthropologist to understand the elaboration of orders, symbols of power and cultural structures that delimit behaviors in society.

Cultural anthropology has a different concern on its horizon than biological anthropology. It aims to understand human societies through the study of religions, social conventions, technical developments, processes of collective communication and valuation, in addition to the study of the symbologies that define collective identities, among other aspects.

Anthropology is a science focused on the study of man in its various manifestations, whether physical, technical, communicative, behavioral and symbolic.

Applied anthropology

In addition to the division presented, there is currently a field in Anthropology that unites physical and cultural studies in order to develop government policies to meet certain needs of social or ethnic groups within a specific society. This field is called applied anthropology.

Applied anthropology advises governments on the implementation of specific policies aimed at communities with established identities that must preserve their identity elements and, at the same time, integrate with other broader social contexts.

An example of this is the study carried out by anthropologists on indigenous communities in Brazil, serving as a basis for actions, public policies, aimed at the preservation of such communities in a larger context of development of economic activities that affect the space of indigenous groups.

Anthropology and other sciences

To carry out anthropological studies, it is essential to use other auxiliary disciplines, such as history, geography, economics, biology, psychology and sociology.

Hence it is understood that Anthropology is constituted in a transdisciplinary way, based on contributions from several other sciences that focus on the understanding of some spheres of human existence. In this sense, it must be considered that the commitment of Anthropology is in the constitution of a vision as wide as possible about the human condition.

Study areas

Although the aim of Anthropology is the constitution of a comprehensive knowledge about the human being and his societies, anthropological study is compartmentalized in some sub-areas of study.

In the United States, anthropology is divided into prehistory (prehistoric archeology), historical anthropology (ethnology) and linguistics.

In relation to European anthropological studies, the following division can be noted: prehistory (prehistoric ethnology), ethnology (historical and comparative description of “races”) and linguistics (linguistic ethnology).

The subareas define specific studies that are articulated at certain times, configuring the synthetic understanding of the human being as Homo faber , that is, civilization.

Field of action of Anthropology

As a science that reflects on human societies, Anthropology focuses on the details of human beings that integrate communities, in their physical aspects, in their relationship with nature and, in particular, in their cultural specificities.

In the properly cultural field, anthropological knowledge encompasses several dimensions, among which one can point out the psychic universe, myths, customs and rituals, peculiar stories, language, values, beliefs, laws and relations of kinship.

It is exactly in the broad sense that Anthropology reveals important content for the humanities and contributes to economic, historical and sociological studies.


Meaning of Anthropology