Manchester, United Kingdom

Social Anthropology

Language: English Studies in English
Subject area: social
University website: www.manchester.ac.uk
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humans and human behaviour and societies in the past and present. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life. Biological or physical anthropology studies the biological development of humans.
Social
Living organisms including humans are social when they live collectively in interacting populations, whether they are aware of it, and whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.
Social Anthropology
Social anthropology or anthroposociology is the dominant constituent of anthropology throughout the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and much of Europe (France in particular), where it is distinguished from cultural anthropology. In the United States, social anthropology is commonly subsumed within cultural anthropology (or under the relatively new designation of sociocultural anthropology).
Anthropology
Our ultimate task is to find interpretative procedures that will uncover each bias and discredit its claims to universality. When this is done the eighteenth century can be formally closed and a new era that has been here a long time can be officially recognised. The individual human being, stripped of his humanity, is of no use as a conceptual base from which to make a picture of human society. No human exists except steeped in the culture of his time and place. The falsely abstracted individual has been sadly misleading to Western political thought. But now we can start again at a point where major streams of thought converge, at the other end, at the making of culture. Cultural analysis sees the whole tapestry as a whole, the picture and the weaving process, before attending to the individual threads.
Mary Douglas and B. Isherwood (1979). The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption. London, Allen Lane, page 63
Anthropology
The great attraction of cultural anthropology in the past was precisely that it seemed to offer such a richness of independent natural experiments; but unfortunately it is now clear that there has been a great deal of historical continuity and exchange among those "independent" experiments, most of which have felt the strong effect of contact with societies organized as modern states. More important, there has never been a human society with unlimited resources, of three sexes, or the power to read other people's minds, or to be transported great distances at the speed of light. How then are we to know the effect on human social organization and history of the need to scrabble for a living, or of the existence of males and females, or of the power to make our tongues drop manna and so to make the worse appear the better reason? A solution to the epistemological impotence of social theory has been to create a literature of imagination and logic in which the consequences of radical alterations in the conditions of human existence are deduced. It is the literature of science fiction. … [S]cience fiction is the laboratory in which extraordinary social conditions, never possible in actuality, are used to illumine the social and historical norm. … Science fiction stories are the Gedanken experiments of social science.
Richard Lewontin "The Last of the Nasties?" in New York Review of Books (2/29/96)
Anthropology
Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organisation which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.
Albert Einstein, Why Socialism? (1949), Monthly Review [1] New York (May 1949)
Impact assessments (IAs) have the potential to boost sustainable development and evidence informed policy making. An EU initiative aimed to realise the full potential of the many developed tools that support IA but remain unexploited by policymakers.
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