Sociology vs Anthropology: Difference and Comparison

Sociology and Anthropology are both branches of social sciences that deal with and analyze the behaviour of human beings in a society. Both these fields of study are closely related as they study civilizations and human social hierarchies in depth.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Sociology studies human societies, social behavior, and institutions, focusing on group dynamics, social structures, and cultural norms; anthropology is the study of human beings and their cultures, with a broader scope that includes biological, cultural, linguistic, and archaeological perspectives.
  2. Sociology primarily investigates contemporary social issues and patterns in modern societies; anthropology encompasses the study of human evolution, cultural diversity, and historical development.
  3. Although both disciplines explore human behavior and social patterns, sociology emphasizes social systems and structures, while anthropology takes a holistic approach, examining humans and their cultures from multiple perspectives.

Sociology vs Anthropology

Sociology is related to the study of social behavior of people. Study of social issues is also included in sociology. It also defines how people interact with each other in a society. The study of human living style is called anthropology. The study of culture is also included in anthropology. Anthropology also focuses on how people adapt to environmental changes.  

Sociology vs Anthropology

Sociology deals with the study of humans’ social relationships with societies and institutions. At the same time, anthropology is the study of human beings’ past, present, and future to analyze various cultural differences that have evolved over the years.

The social nature of man forms the basis of sociology. It includes investigating the structure of groups of people, societies, their behavioural patterns, and understanding how people interact. At the same time, anthropology focuses more on areas like culture, archaeology, language, and biology that have been evolving.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonSociologyAnthropology
DefinitionSociology studies the development, interaction, structure of groups, and behavioural changes of an organized group of human beings to analyze their changes.Anthropology is the study of human beings mainly through their past and their evolutions regarding cultural, environmental, and biological characteristics.
Areas of StudySociology focuses more on social problems, gender, race, ethnicity, and behavioural patterns of families, urban communities, institutions, etc.Anthropology focuses on studying the evolution of mankind concerning their cultures, issues, rituals, traditions, history, and even myths.
PopularitySociology seems to be a more popular course offered by many universities across the globe.Due to its resemblance to biology and many other fields of study like archaeology, anthropology is not a very sought-after or offered program.
MethodologySociology is viewed as a more complex social science as it uses a quantitative methodology of surveying and sampling as its mode of study.Anthropology is considered a softer social science with a more qualitative methodology, including ethnography as its mode of analysis.
Focus LevelSociology tries to study things at a macro-level, like how the larger society affects individuals and families.Anthropology focuses on a micro level and studies how individuals and families interact and evolve with social trends.


What is Sociology?

Man is a social animal, and this stands as the base for the study of sociology as a social science. Therefore, sociology studies groups of people living together and their behavioural aspects.

The term ‘sociology’ was coined by Auguste Conte in 1838 and was taken up by scholars like Karl Marx and Herbert Spencer. Sociology started becoming a professional and academic subject by the end of the 19th century due to the significant sociological work contributions of Emile Durkheim.

Since humans need to interact to co-exist, sociology tries to analyze and interpret the interactive actions of people with each other and society as a whole. It also majorly focuses on the result or products of such human interactions as families, cities, organizations, technologies, media, and even religion.

The subject matter of study in sociology deals with the smallest group of people, i.e., from families to organizations and institutions, as well as religion, gender, and race. Sociologists work quantitatively by studying large sets of data and samples and surveying and analyzing them.

Sociology looks for ‘people’s issues’ and finding out solutions to them. For a sociologist, unemployment may not seem like a problem for the unemployed individual but a result of the interaction of socio-political and economic forces that show the number of jobs available and the number of people trying to get them.

Sociology specializes in families, health, communities, gender, race, caste, crime, and economics. The historical basis of sociology is in studying industrialized Western societies.

Famous sociologists include Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx, who wrote the famous “Communist Manifesto” and “Das Capital”. Other significant contributions to this field include Herbert Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” theory, among many others.

The scope of ‘Sociology’ as a career is also enormous. It has been anticipated to grow by 18% by the end of 2020. Sociology opens doors to careers like professors, policy analysts, supervisors, researchers, directors, and many more.


What is Anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of the past and present of humans, as per the American Anthropological Association. They are studies of humans regarding their cross-cultural differences, communication styles, cultural beliefs, and evolution mechanisms.

The term anthropology first appeared in 1593. In 1772, Kant began teaching a course on anthropology. The subject became separated and distinct from biology by the 19th century.

Anthropology mainly focuses on four primary areas- culture, archaeology, language, and biology of humans throughout a very long time and creates inferences from them.

In simpler terms, anthropology determines how humans live and their evolution. It examines cultural and traditional rituals and ways of living at a very minute level.

The objects made by humans earlier and their analysis, how humans have biologically adapted to changing environmental conditions till now, how humans interact with their surroundings, their folks, arts, and cuisines, and how humans communicate across cultures all these forms the crux of anthropology.

Anthropology analyses humans from a broad and comparative perspective and uses qualitative methods like ethnography to study humans from past to present. Career options are comprehensive in anthropology, ranging from a PhD and research in anthropological departments to museums to work in government and international agencies and healthcare centres.


Main Differences Between Sociology and Anthropology

  1. Sociology studies people living together, their behavioural patterns, and reactions, while anthropology studies how people have evolved in various terms over the past years.
  2. Sociology deals with the group behaviour of people and their relations with society and institutions, while anthropology analyses people at a more micro and individual level.
  3.  The principal methodology for the study used by Sociologists is Quantitative methods like survey and sampling, while anthropologists use methods like ethnography and other qualitative methods to analyze and infer.
  4.  The main difference between Sociology and Anthropology is that sociology focuses on things at a macro level while anthropology does that at a micro level.
  5.  Sociology is more solution-oriented and tries to fix social problems, while anthropology tries to understand cultural diversities.
Difference Between Sociology and Anthropology
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