What’s the Difference Between Anthropology and Sociology?

Anthropology and sociology are both disciplines concerned with how people interact with each other and their environment; however, they each have different goals and methods for analyzing human behavior.

In this article, we’ll explore the question of what distinguishes anthropology from sociology.

What Is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of man and his ancestors in past and present societies. It is a holistic discipline, meaning that it considers all aspects of human life, including physical, social, linguistic, and cultural. 

One of the main goals of anthropology is to understand how humans evolved and how different cultures developed. Anthropologists also seek to understand the contemporary world by examining issues such as globalization, migration, and inequality.

Moreover, anthropologists use a variety of methods to learn about different cultures, including participant observation, interviews, and surveys. They are interested in how people interact with each other and their environment and how cultures change over time.

What Is Sociology?

Sociology is the study of human behavior in groups. The word sociology comes from the Latin words socius, meaning “companion,” and ology, meaning “the study of.” So basically, sociology is the companion science of social interaction. 

Sociology is a relatively young discipline that emerged in the 1800s. It was developed to study the Industrial Revolution and the changing social order that resulted from it. Since then, sociology has expanded to encompass a wide range of topics, including gender relations, race and ethnicity, social class, globalization, and more.

Sociologists use a variety of methods to study human society, including statistical analysis, interviews, and participant observation. They study how people interact with each other, the social institutions and organizations they create, and how these structures influence individual behavior.

Sociology Typically Focuses on Large-Scale Social Phenomena, While Anthropology Tends to Focus on Smaller-Scale Social Phenomena

Sociology focuses on social structures and interactions at the macro level. It is generally concerned with the patterns and processes of human society as a whole or of very large groups of people such as class systems or political movements. 

Anthropology, on the other hand, focuses more on micro-level social phenomena, such as individual people or small groups of people within a larger culture (e.g., families, tribes).

In addition, anthropologists are interested in how cultures develop, how they change over time, and why these changes occur. They are also interested in understanding how cultural norms influence behavior.

Sociology Uses More Quantitative Analysis, While Anthropology Relies More on Qualitative Analysis

Since it relies so heavily on field observation, anthropology uses the “ethnographic approach.” This means that anthropologists conduct their studies by observing people in their natural environment and getting to know them as individuals. This allows them to gather more accurate information about their subjects than if they relied solely on statistics or surveys.

Sociologists, on the other hand, use statistical analysis methods to evaluate large quantities of collected data from various sources such as censuses or demographic surveys. This makes their conclusions more reliable because it helps eliminate bias from a single source.

Sociology Tends to Be More Interested in Recent Changes in Society While Anthropology Looks at How Cultures Have Changed Over Time

Sociologists tend to focus on how people interact in the present, while anthropologists study how cultural traditions have been handed down through generations.

For example, sociologists might ask how social media have changed the way people communicate with each other, while anthropologists might ask how traditional ceremonies are passed down within families. This is because anthropology takes a more holistic view of culture and looks at all its aspects, whereas sociology typically focuses on the social institutions that have developed over the last few hundred years.

Sociology Focuses More on How Social Structures Influence People’s Behavior, While Anthropology Is More Focused on How Culture Affects People’s Behavior

Anthropologists are interested in the way people interact within cultural groups. They’re interested in how people communicate with each other and how they interact with the natural world around them. An anthropologist might ask: How do different cultures celebrate birthdays? How do different cultures interact with animals?

In addition, anthropologists are interested in how different cultures have developed different sets of beliefs about what it means to be human and what behaviors are acceptable within those cultures. 

In contrast, sociology focuses on larger groups of people and their interactions with one another. The focus of sociology is on how social structures affect people’s behavior—for example, how education affects female employment rates in different countries

Sociologists study groups of people who share certain characteristics; they do not focus on individuals as much as anthropologists, who study cultures from a broader perspective.

Is Sociology the Same as the Social Sciences?

Sociology and social sciences are two terms that are often used interchangeably. But they are not exactly the same thing.

Sociology studies how people interact with each other and with society in general. It studies how people interact in their communities, organizations, and families to see how those interactions affect our lives. It also examines how we interact with each other on a larger scale – how our culture affects us, how we affect our culture, and how our cultural norms evolve over time.

Although sociology is one of the social sciences, along with psychology, history, economics, and political science, it is something quite different: it’s an interdisciplinary field that combines elements from all of these disciplines into one cohesive whole and aims to understand human behavior in its broadest sense possible.

Is Anthropology a Social Science?

The short answer is yes. Anthropology is definitely a social science, but it’s not just one.

One might even say that anthropology is the mother of all social sciences and that makes perfect sense because it is one of the oldest disciplines in the world and has been used by countless different cultures around the world throughout history to understand what makes us human and how we can improve as individuals and as groups.

Today, anthropologists continue to use their insights into our species’ past to shape our future: for example, by studying how different societies solve problems like poverty or hunger, how cultures change over time, or even by examining how we relate to animals.


In summary, anthropology and sociology are both social sciences that deal with human behavior but have different emphases.

Anthropology deals with humans in their natural environment, while sociology studies human society or social structures. Each of these two sciences has its own strengths and can be used to answer various questions about humans and society. 

If you’re interested in human behavior, both subjects can provide valuable insights into human behavior and are worth exploring.

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