Inderscience Publishers

The challenges of anthropology

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Although anthropology is often associated with studies of small-scale societies, traditional cultures or arcane customs, this article argues that anthropology is first and foremost a way of thinking that can be applied to any aspect of human life. As such, it is complementary to and a useful supplement to other human sciences such as psychology and economics. Anthropology distinguishes itself by trying to account for human diversity, studied through long-term fieldwork and analysed via comparative methods. By virtue of its ethnographic method, anthropology produces unique insights into the informal dimension of social and cultural life, emphasising the contrasts between what people say and what they do, and between the formal structure of society and what actually happens. In the endeavour to understand the human condition, anthropology is one of several indispensable tools.

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