What is anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of humanity in depth, in breadth, and through time. Anthropology is divided into five subfields. Cultural anthropology focuses on contemporary human societies in order to construct an understanding of the behavioral patterns and beliefs that produce ethnic and cultural identities. Anthropological archaeology reconstructs the social past of human societies by use of the archaeological method. Linguistic anthropology analyzes the roles that language plays in culture and communication. Physical or biological anthropology focuses on understanding the biological and genetic structure of human beings. Finally, applied anthropology takes what the other subfields know and uses that knowledge for practical purposes in business, medicine, government, and information systems applications.

The goal of anthropology is to develop a holistic understanding of what it means to be human. Consequently, anthropologists conduct research in a broad array of topics: art, history, literature, family studies, community studies, language studies, human genetics, resource usage, human migration, war, and many others. It is an eclectic academic discipline in which there are many specialties that overlap one another.

About half of all anthropologists with Ph.D.s are employed in the academic sector. The other half work in a variety of vocations such as non-profit organizations, Christian missions, business, law enforcement, military service, consulting, government, and foreign service.