Between Sociology and Anthropology

Definition of sociology and anthropology

Definition / July 18, 2017

Anthropology versus Sociology comparison chart

Anthropology Sociology
Definition The study of human beings and their ancestors through time in terms of physical character, environmental and social relations and culture. It can also be known as the scientific and humanistic study of human species and their various diversities. The study of the development, structure, interaction and behavior of organized groups of human beings.
Specializations Sociocultural, linguistic, physical, archaeological.Simple, traditional and non-industrialized societies. Social institutions (economic life education, family, politics and religion), social stratification (by age, gender, race and ethnicity, and social class), social change and social problems.Focuses on complex and modern societies.

Areas of Study

A typical anthropology degree includes the study of human evolution, cross-cultural issues, rituals and myths and cultural history. Areas of specialization in anthropology include sociocultural, linguistic, physical and archaeological anthropology. Sociocultural anthropology is the study of culture, mostly based on ethnography, with a central focus on kinship and social organization. Linguistic anthropology studies the history of human communication, while physical anthropology examines the evolution of humans and other primates. Archaeological anthropology studies human history through its artifacts such as pieces of pottery and tools.

A typical sociology degree includes study of social problems, criminology, culture, race, gender and ethnicity. Areas of specialization in sociology include families, urban communities, health, aging, economics, ethnicity, sex and gender, and crime.


Sociology seems to be more popular in the United States with more than 1, 000 universities offering sociology programs. Only about 400 universities offer anthropology programs.


Students who major in anthropology can go on to get PhDs and research in anthropology departments, campus ethnic centers and museums. Anthropologists can also work in government and international agencies, at healthcare centers and nonprofit associations, and in environmental projects. The average starting salary for an anthropology major is $37, 600.

Students who major in sociology can go on to graduate study of sociology, economics, political science and psychology. They also become lawyers, and work in criminal justice, education, advertising, human resources, and government work. The average starting salary for a sociology major is $33, 400.


Anthropology first appeared, as a term, in 1593. Kant began teaching a course on anthropology in 1772. It became popular during the Enlightenment and became distinct from biology in the 19th century.

Sociology was coined as a term by Auguste Conte in 1838. It became a popular subject in the 19th century, with scholars including Herbert Spencer and Karl Marx. It became a formal academic discipline at the end of the 19th century, through the work of Emile Durkheim.

Famous Scholars

Famous anthropologists include Franz Boas, who is considered the father of American anthropology, Margaret Mead, who pioneered cultural anthropology and studied women’s rights, Clifford Geertz, who wrote “The Interpretation of Cultures, ” and Paul Farmer, a cultural anthropologist and human rights activist.

Famous classical sociologists include Emile Durkheim who argued social facts as external to the individuals, Karl Marx who wrote "The Communist Manifesto" and "Das Kapital", Max Weber famous for his idea of rationalization and historical-comparative approach, George Herbert Mead, one of the founders of symbolic interactionism, and Georg Simmel. After them, sociologists in mid-20th century like C. Wright Mills, Talcott Parsons, Robert K. Merton, Erving Goffman, George C. Homans, Pierre Bourdieu are frequently mentioned as modern sociologists,

Famous Research

Famous sociological studies include Robert Merton’s definition of the terms “self-fulfilling prophecy” and “role model, ” Karl Marx’s study of capitalism, Herbert Spencer’s coining of the phrase “survival of the fittest, ” and Charles Horton Cooley’s theory of “the looking-glass self.”