Difference between social and cultural anthropology

Difference between social and cultural anthropology

Here we will provide you the difference between social and cultural anthropology.

Social anthropology

Social anthropology is an area of ​​study that focuses on society and social institutions. The social anthropologist is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the social structure and relationships between various social institutions. As we all know, society is made up of various social institutions. These are family, education, politics, religion, and economics. Each institution plays a specific role in society and in one way or another contributes to the maintenance of public order. The social anthropologist is very interested in understanding the role of these institutions, their nature, and the relationship they have to other institutions. In tis article we will explain the difference between social and cultural anthropology.

Social anthropology as a discipline developed primarily in Britain. He was influenced by the intellectual currents of France. In social anthropology, one of the main methods used is participant observation. With observation enabled, the anthropologist does more than just walk into the field of research and gather information. On the contrary, he becomes part of society, which is his area of ​​study. This allows him to gain a broader understanding of society and the various social connections that exist in this particular society.

Social anthropology mainly provides the researcher with qualitative data; This is due to the fact that the researcher uses extensive detailed data that allows him to understand the social structure and relationships between social institutions. After completing field research, the anthropologist produces ethnographyEthnography is a detailed, detailed survey of a particular society, its structure, relationships, and social institutions.

Cultural anthropology

Unlike social anthropology, where the emphasis is on the study of society, in cultural anthropology, the emphasis is on the culture of society. … This can include the study of patterns of behavior, language, customs, rituals, laws, ideals, art, etc. A cultural anthropologist seeks to study and understand different cultures of people. As we know, there are different types of societies in our modern world. There are different cultures within these societies. These cultures are very different from each other and shape the lives of people in society.

A cultural anthropologist pays attention to these cultures. He studies the unique elements of culture, such as certain rituals that people have, and comprehends the subjective meaning that people attach to these rituals. He then tries to analyze this subjective interpretation in an objective and scientific way using anthropological approaches.

Cultural anthropology is fairly well known in the United States, in contrast to social anthropology. Some of the key figures in cultural anthropology are Ruth Benedict and Franz Boas. Most cultural anthropological studies have focused on isolated communities, as in the case of Margaret Mead, who studies people in Samoa. However, this focus has changed these days to include densely populated societies.

Major Differences


Social Anthropology: Social anthropology is an area of ​​study that focuses on society and social institutions.

Cultural Anthropology: Cultural anthropology focuses on the culture of a society.



Social Anthropology: Focuses on social institutions, their relationships, and society as a whole.

Cultural Anthropology: Focuses on rituals, customs, art, language, beliefs, and culture in general.


Social Anthropology: When conducting research, the main methodology is participant observation.

Cultural Anthropology: Even in cultural anthropology, participatory observation is the primary method.


Social Anthropology: Social anthropology is popular in the UK.

Cultural Anthropology: Cultural anthropology is popular in the United States.

We hope that you have understood the difference between social and cultural anthropology

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