Definition of Anthropology: Meaning, Scope, and Types of Anthropology

Types of Anthropology


The definition of anthropology is

What is meant by anthropology ( anthropology )? In language, the definition of anthropology is the study of human beings, both in terms of culture, behavior, diversity, and so forth.

The word anthropology itself comes from Greek, namely “Anthropos” which means human and “Logos” which means discourse. So that etymologically, the meaning of anthropology is the study of human beings, including studies in it.

In conducting studies on humans, anthropology puts forward two important concepts, namely comparative and holistic. Because in studying anthropology more attention to the historical aspects and through a thorough explanation to describe humans through science such as social science, life sciences, and humanities.

Initially, anthropology began with European interests in different physical characteristics, customs and ethnic cultures with European society. So that initially anthropological studies focused more on the population as a single society, in the sense of groups of people living in the same environment but have different characteristics.

However, in its development, the science of anthropology then does not only study a single group of humans who inhabit the same region. Anthropology studies more about migration issues, for example giving birth to multi-site ethnographic research.

Understanding Anthropology According to Experts


In order to better understand what anthropology means, we can refer to the opinions of the following experts:

1. David Hunter

According to David Hunter, the notion of anthropology is a science that is born from an unlimited curiosity about humanity.

2. William A. Haviland

According to William A. Haviland, the notion of anthropology is a study of humanity in general by studying physical color, physical form, and culture produced by society.

3. Conrad Phillip Kottak

According to Conrad Phillip Kottak, the meaning of anthropology is a study of the diversity of humanity in a holistic manner, encompassing socio-cultural, biological, linguistic, and environmental aspects in the past, present, and future time dimensions.

4. Darwinian deafness

According to Tullian Darwin, anthropology is a science that originates from the human desire to prove the origin and development that occurs in humans by conducting various studies of monkeys and apes that exist in all corners of the world.

5. Koentjaraningrat

According to Koentjaraningrat, the notion of anthropology is the study of humanity in general, by studying the physical form, skin color, and culture produced by a society.

6. Rifhi Siddiq

According to Rifhi Siddiq, the notion of anthropology is a science that examines all aspects of human life which consist of all kinds of conceptions of tradition, norms, art, culture, science, institutions, symbols, linguistics, and also technology.

The Purpose of Studying Anthropology

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Broadly speaking, studying anthropology aims to understand and appreciate human beings as a biological entity of homo sapiens and social creatures in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary working shell.

So in practice, anthropology is studied using the theory of biological evolution in providing historical facts. Simply put, this science has a purpose to study the journey of mankind on earth from the very beginning.

In addition, Anthropology also uses cross-cultural studies to emphasize and explain differences between human groups in the perspective of social behavior, cultural material, language and outlook on life.

Scope of Anthropology

After understanding the understanding of Anthropology as discussed earlier, we will discuss the scope of anthropology. The scope of anthropology itself is divided into two basic concepts, namely physical anthropology, and cultural anthropology.
1. Physical Anthropology
Physical anthropology refers to the systematic part of humans as biological organisms. Within this scope are divided into two main issues, namely Paleoanthropology and Somatology.
  1. Paleoanthropology is a part of physical anthropology that studies origins and includes human evolution based on fossil evidence found.
  2. Somatology is a part of physical anthropology that studies human diversity which is viewed from the point of view of physical characteristics.
2. Cultural Anthropology
In anthropology, the term Anthropology of Culture is also known. The scope of cultural anthropology examines the origin and history of human culture, cultural evolution and its development including the form and function of human culture.
Related to the scope of cultural anthropology that studies human activities extensively, it is traditionally divided into three branches, namely:
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  1. Prehistory archeology, this archeology studies ancient culture and connects it with modern civilization.
  2. Ethnology, this is related to the way of describing the special characteristics of cultures and human groups that are very diverse. However, Ethnology has limitations as a theory of culture.
  3. Ethnolinguistics, this science examines the part of the language used by ancient and modern humans. The way is by learning the language of people who already have writing and people who don’t have writing.

Thus a brief discussion of the meaning of anthropology and the scope studied in it. Hopefully, this article is useful and can add to your insight regarding the field of anthropology.

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