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ANTHROPOLOGY

Cultural AnthropologyJPEG Image

Cultural anthropologists seek to understand different groups and societies by examining their culture from a holistic perspective, which means the broadest possible context through which the complexities, interconnections, and interdependencies of culture can be comprehended.

Culture can be defined as the entire collection of a group or society's values, beliefs, traditions, perceptions, and behaviors .  It encompasses stated as well as unconscious principles by which groups define their lives and the world around them. Every aspect of a group or society -- from family structure, social control, political and economic structures, to religious, artistic, and linguistic principles, even the way we dress and the food we eat -- is part of culture.

There are two major components to cultural anthropology: ethnography and ethnology.

* Ethnography is the study or description of individual cultures. The ethnographer goes into the field to live with and learn about the culture of a society or group. The ethnographer follows the fundamental premise of fieldwork: long-term, non-judgemental, systematic participation and observation.
* Ethnology is the comparative study of different cultures. It is concerned with matters of theory regarding the relationship between human behavior and culture, looking to these for factors responsible for observable similarities and differences between cultures.