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What is Anthropology

2009-06-03

What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of culture. People around the world create different social, political, economic, and religious systems in different environments. Anthropologists study the similarity and diversity of these cultural systems, to find out the nature of human existence.

Many people think of anthropology as the study of "ancient traditions" and "exotic tribes." This is a misunderstanding. Most anthropologists today study modern societies, such as the USA and Japan, and how their cultures have changed.

To understand the different aspects of cultural life, anthropologists use a holistic viewpoint and systematic research methods. We use both qualitative and quantitative methods of social science. But most importantly, we try to understand the views of people themselves. We put emphasis on interaction with people: observing directly what they do in their social world, and talking with them about what they do and why. For cultures that do not exist today, we use archeological methods.

Anthropology Department
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

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