When choosing between anthropology and sociology for a college major, it is important to understand what are the areas of study and career prospects for each field. Anthropology is the study of human beings and their ancestors through time in terms of physical characteristics, environmental and social relations, and culture. On the other hand, sociology is the study of human society at a given period in time. Anthropology covers all characteristics of humanity, including physiology and evolutionary origins while sociology focuses on social relationships. More U.S. universities offer programs in sociology than anthropology.
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 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 anthropological discoveries include the discovery that all languages are historically related, descending from a “proto language,” that humans had ancestors who are now extinct, and that chimpanzees have culture and use tools.
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.”
Anthropologists have been criticized for focusing on Western history and society at the expense of other cultures. Some argue that it has its origins in colonialism.
- Wikipedia: Anthropology
- Wikipedia: Sociology
- Famous Anthropologists - Buzzle
- 10 Famous Cultural Anthropologists - Discovery Channel
- Wikipedia: List of discoveries#Anthropology
- Wikibooks: Introduction to Sociology / Famous Sociologists
- What is Anthropology? - Boston University
- Study Sociology in the US - International Student
- Best Colleges for Sociology Majors - MyMajors
- Best Colleges for Anthropology Majors - MyMajors