What is Anthropology?

The word ‘Anthropology’ is derived from two Greek words; Anthropos meaning human being and Logos meaning study. This is the study of the different cultures and environment human beings have developed in their particular groups and societies.

Companies are eager to hire anthropologists because of the following reasons;

  • Seeking cultural expertise
  • To find out about their preferences
  • To bring improvements in their products
  • Enhance reputation through CSR


Anthropology can be divided into 4 categories or sub fields. These include;

  1. Cultural
  2. Archaeological
  3. Physical & Biological
  4. Linguistic
What is anthropology?


” Ethnography is a research process in which the anthropologist closely observes, records and engages in the daily life of another culture – an experience labelled as the fieldwork method- and then writes accounts of this culture, emphasizing descriptive details.”

Marcus and Fischer (1986, p. 18). In Kottak C (2013: 48) Mirror for Humanity: A Concise Introduction to Cultural Anthropology McGraw-Hill.

To get a culture, ethnographers must learn the meanings of action and experience from the insider’s or the informant’s point of view.  This is why ethnographic research is called the hallmark of cultural anthropology.

In the words of Bronislaw Malinowski, the goal of ethnography is “to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world.”

Fieldwork Elements

Fieldwork is essential in ethnography and this fieldwork has several steps.

  • Gaining Access
  • Taking Time
  • Learning the language
  • Participation and Observation
  • Taking notes

In order to begin a research about something, you have to gain access to the particular group. After you gain access, it is not necessary that you will get the desired responses immediately. Time is needed to settle in and start to see things more clearly. It is usually not easy to observe everything that well if you cannot understand the local language. Language is used to meaning as well as distinction and status. The next thing you will do is gain trust and develop friendships. This way you will be able to participate and observe closely. Most importantly, you will want to write everything that you think may be important, everything that surprises you or raises a question.  

Also read : Gender across Cultures

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