Anthropology is the scientific study of humans, past and present, that draws and builds upon knowledge from the social sciences, life sciences, and humanities. Since the work of Franz Boas and Bronisław Malinowski in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, social anthropology in Great Britain and cultural anthropology in the US have been distinguished from other social sciences by its emphasis on cross-cultural comparisons, long-term in-depth examination of context, and the importance it places on participant-observation or experiential immersion in the area of research. Cultural anthropology in particular has emphasized cultural relativism, holism, and the use of findings to frame cultural critiques. This has been particularly prominent in the United States, from Boas’ arguments against 19th-century racial ideology, through Margaret Mead’s advocacy for gender equality and sexual liberation, to current criticisms of post-colonial oppression and promotion of multiculturalism. Ethnography is one of its primary research designs as well as the text that is generated from anthropological fieldwork. In Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, the British tradition of social anthropology tends to dominate. In the United States, anthropology has traditionally been divided into the four field approach developed by Franz Boas in the early 20th century: biological or physical anthropology; social, cultural, or sociocultural anthropology; and archaeology; plus anthropological linguistics. These fields frequently overlap, but tend to use different methodologies and techniques. European countries with overseas colonies tended to practice more ethnology (a term coined and defined by Adam F. Kollár in 1783). In non-colonial European countries, social anthropology is now defined as the study of social organization in non-state societies. It is sometimes referred to as sociocultural anthropology in the parts of the world that were influenced by the European tradition.
About the Author: Matt Artz
Matt Artz is a business and design anthropologist, consultant, author, speaker, and creator. He writes, speaks, and consults in user experience, product management, and business strategy. He creates products, podcasts, music, and visual art. Matt is the Head of Product and Experience for Cloudshadow Consulting and Artmatcher. He is also the Founder of Anthro to UX, Azimuth Labs, and Biomega Technologies. He earned a Masters of Science in Applied Anthropology from the University of North Texas in 2018, an MBA in Finance and Management Information Systems from Marywood University in 2008, a BS in Biotechnology from Marywood University in 2008, and a BBA in Computer Information Systems from Marywood University in 2006. As an anthropologist and consultant, he is known for his research interests and work in business anthropology, design anthropology, consumer genetics, user experience, product management, big data, sensemaking, and algorithmic bias. Matt is also the creator of the Anthropology in Business podcast and Anthro to UX podcast where he discusses the application of anthropology to business and UX. He has been featured by TEDx, SXSW, Anthropology News, MedPage Today, Kevin MD Technically, UX Planet, Towards Data Science, Product Coalition, and the University of North Texas. You can follow Matt on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, and Google Scholar.