What is Anthropology origin Method and types


Anthropology is the science that studies human cultural diversity, wherever or whenever it is, considering that we have populated the entire face of the Earth for millions of years.

Thus, anthropological knowledge outlines, in detail, the factors that make up the relationships between individuals and their environment, taking into account all cultural specificities. This is because its focus is, in fact, the concept of “Culture”.

Anthropology is a scientific discipline dedicated to the study of human beings and their various forms of life in society. It seeks to understand the differences and similarities between human cultures, as well as the social relationships and processes of change that occur over time. This is a social science concerned with understanding human societies and their cultural diversities.


The word “anthropology” comes from the Greek “anthropos”, which means “man”, and “logia”, which means “study”. Therefore, anthropology is the study of man and his societies. The first efforts to understand man as a cultural being come from the Greeks. Before being a science, the Greeks, in the 6th century BC, guided discussions that served as the basis for Modern Anthropology

However, it was only in the 19th century that the “Science of culture” was consolidated. In the 1870s, British anthropologist Edward Burnett Taylor and geographer and biologist Herbert Spencer launched the first anthropological movement under the guise of scienceThese anthropological efforts were laden with prejudice and ethnocentrism, because they were based on a linear cultural evolutionism known as social Darwinism.

The Anthropological Method

Anthropology has as its privileged object of study customs, beliefs, habits, psychic universe, myths, rituals, historical process, language, laws, kinship relations. All these are subjective aspects of the different peoples of the planet.

The anthropological method basically consists of the practice of ethnography (description of the field work) and ethnology (synthesis of the contents described in the field). Thus, through critical analysis, it is possible to interpret the phenomena described.

In addition, it uses common methodologies and knowledge in research in other areas of knowledge, such as linguistics, archeology, history, among others.

Types of Anthropology

Anthropology is divided into several subareas, each with a specific objective. Cultural anthropology is concerned with the study of human cultures, including their beliefs, customs, language and art. Biological anthropology, in turn, analyzes human beings from a biological point of view, studying their body structure, their evolution and their adaptations to different environments.

Physical Anthropology

Study man as a living animal: his origins; the evolution of primitive man to modern man, highlighting racial differences. It is the study of human biology in evolution, with an emphasis on the interaction between biology and culture.

Cultural/Social Anthropology

It has a social and cultural approach to man, seeking to identify symbolic processes of interactions. It studies human diversity, focusing on more cultural and social dimensions than biological ones. Furthermore, there are differences between cultural and social anthropology. While the first focuses on the concept of culture, the second focuses on the concept of Society. Both one and the other will be guided by two fundamental forms of analysis: ethnology and ethnography.


It seeks to analyze culture from documents, images, reports and secondary sources. They are works made in offices and offices, based on a narrative and discursive construction to understand peoples and ethnicities. In many cases this is the only possible option for analysis, either because of the difficulty of directly accessing people, or because of the fact of studying extinct peoples. An example of this is Florestan Fernandes’ work on the Tupinambás, a people that was extinct at the time, 200 years ago.


It seeks to understand the culture from the direct experience with the natives, seeking to bring the researcher’s experience closer to the natives’ experience. One of the first anthropologists to navigate this approach was the aforementioned author Bronisław Malinowski, who in 1922 published the work “Argonauts of the Western Pacific. On that occasion he spent about 10 years with the people of the Trobriand Islands.


  • The word “anthropology” is of Greek origin, formed by the terms ” anthropos ” (man, human being) and ” logos ” (knowledge).
  • We can find reports of anthropological value from classical antiquity, mainly in the writings of Greek and Roman authors.
  • Until the 18th century, anthropological knowledge was constituted from the texts of chroniclers, travelers, soldiers, missionaries and merchants.

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