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Differences between Sociology and Anthropology

Updated on February 6, 2014

Sociology and Anthropology

Auguste comte, a French man, the 'Father of Sociology' first coined the term 'Sociology'. The term sociology is derived from the combination of Latin words "Societus " (society) and Greek word 'Logos ' (study) which connote study of society. On the other hand it was Aristotle who coined the term 'Anthropology' which is derived from the combination of two Greek words "Anthropos" (human being) and "Logos " (study). Edward Burnett Taylor earned the title the 'Father of Anthropology'.

Radcliff-Brown says that anthropology is a branch of sociology or comparative sociology. Similarly Evans-Pritchard emphasizes that social anthropology is a branch of sociological studies, that branch which which mainly devotes itself to primitive studies. Kingsly Davis says that social anthropology and sociology at one time they were different, but today are one and the same.

In fact both show similarities and differences in several aspects. Both are synoptic sciences i.e. they study several behaviours, because they study social behaviour in relation to other aspects of human society. Both use some indistinguish theoretical approaches to understand the unity and diversity of social life.

Differences between Sociology and Anthropology

Scope of sociology is limited, for it is concerned with contemporary rural and urban societies only. Part-science because it deals with society and culture of rural and urban populations.
Scope of anthropology is universal, for it is concerned with the whole of humankind in space and time. It is a Whole science because it deals with the totality of biology, culture and society of all varieties of humankind.
Its origin can be traced to the philosophy of history, political science and social survey.
Its origin can be traced to biology, social philosophy and descriptive accounts of preliterate societies and prehistoric cultures.
Initially it studied only industrial West. That means it studied one's own society and culture.
Initially it studied non-industrial societies and cultures. That means it studied other cultures and societies.
To start with it studied marriage and family of urban societies.
To start with it studied marriage, family, kinship, political and religious life of the primitive societies.
Now it studies several aspects of urban and rural societies; it has limited focus on culture; it has limited number of branches.
Now it studies every aspect of biology, culture and social life preliterate, peasant and urban societies; as such it has numerous branches.
Sociology studies evolution of human society in relation to social, economic, political and ecological factors and forces.
Anthropology studies the biological, social and cultural evolution of humankind in relation to each other.
Sociology often finds ethnographic evidence useful when it wants to compare modern societies with other societies that have very different ways of life.
Anthropology draws on findings of sociology whenever it would be helpful for the understanding of social behavior.
Sociology treats humans as objects subject to many forces.
Anthropology treats humans as endowed with consciousness. Does not treat humans as objects.
Sociology believes that human beings are objects and they can be studied objectively.
Anthropology believes that human beings maintain that their own view point about their own society and anthropologists experience native reality.
Sociology stresses distance from the objects of study.
Anthropology stresses immersion in native life.
Sociology Focuses its attention on extensive study.
Anthropology focuses its attention on intensive study.
Sociology emphasizes that human behavior can be measured and measurability is reliability.
Anthropology thinks that a large part of human behavior is beyond the realm of measurement.
Sociology tends to treat the data quantitatively.
Anthropology tends to treat the data qualitatively.
Sociology generalizes from the survey of samples of large populations.
Anthropology generalizes from the study of communities and totality of social life.
Sociology often interested in causal relationships between limited numbers of variables.
Anthropology is more typically interested with the inter-connectedness of all aspects of social life.
Sociology devotes more attention to social problems in urban societies than those in pleasant societies.
Anthropology devotes more attention to social problems in primitive and peasant societies than those in urban societies.
Sociology cannot afford to become deeply involved with their informants if they tend to survey large sample of the society.
Anthropology spends weeks tracing a lead to the answer of a particular question because of their personal involvement in the study.


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      i never knew abt sociology and anthropolgy as this much in detail until i read this information.thank u sir.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      thank you so much for this information.keep up!

    • profile image

      Sunmonu olaronke Lateefat 

      6 years ago

      This is very beautiful. My name is SUNMONU OLARONKE LATEEFAT. I'm an Anthropologist.

    • toknowinfo profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent and well written hub. You gave me a lot to think about regarding sociology and anthropology in ways I never thought of. Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very nice explanation


      great hub

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      6 years ago from Oakland, California

      A very good clarification of the terms.Thanks for a great hub!

    • profile image

      Buhari bala jere 

      6 years ago

      Thanks,for taking me away from dubious confusion.

    • feenix profile image


      7 years ago

      dilipchandra12, I was particularly interested in reading this hub because anthropology is one my favorite, if not my favorite, subjects. Thank you for publishing this post because it was very educational for me.

    • Robwrite profile image


      7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks for the information. I was never clear on the distinction.

    • pjdscott profile image


      7 years ago from Durham, UK

      As a non-sociologist or anthropogolist, but with friends who are, this hub was really useful thanks and voted hot!


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