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  • Writer's picturebruce yu

Social Anthro#1: Introduction to Social Anthropology

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Recently I started taking a course in Oxford about social anthropology. Intrigued by its various anthropological theories and perspectives, I would like to share what I have learned in Social Anthropology: An Introduction.

Social anthropology is a sub-discipline of anthropology that focuses on the study of human societies and cultures. It is concerned with understanding how people live and interact with one another, and how culture shapes and is shaped by social relationships.

One of the key concepts in social anthropology is culture, which refers to the shared beliefs, values, norms, and practices of a particular group of people. Culture is passed down from generation to generation and shapes the way people think, behave, and understand the world around them.

Another key concept in social anthropology is society, which refers to the group of people who live together in a particular place and share a common culture. Society encompasses the social relationships, institutions, and structures that enable people to live and work together.

Identity is another important concept in social anthropology, as it refers to the ways in which individuals and groups define themselves in relation to others. Identity can be shaped by factors such as ethnicity, gender, class, and nationality, and can change over time as people interact with different cultures and societies.

Cultural relativism is a principle in social anthropology that holds that cultural practices and beliefs should be understood within their own contexts, rather than being judged based on the standards of other cultures. This means that social anthropologists strive to understand and appreciate the diversity of human cultures, without imposing their own cultural values or assumptions.

Social anthropology is a rich and fascinating field that offers insights into the complexities of human society and culture. It encompasses a range of sub-disciplines, including linguistic anthropology, economic anthropology, and political anthropology, and draws on a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. Whether you are studying anthropology as a discipline or simply interested in learning more about human societies, social anthropology offers a wealth of knowledge and perspectives.


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