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Anthropology was once broadly defined as the study of humanity, in all aspects. It is not so much a subject matter in itself as it is a bond between subject matters. Historically, the discipline embraced diverse concerns with kinship, politics, systems of exchange, ritual and religion, amongst others, and usually focused on the “tribal peoples” of the “non-Western” world. Often it was described as a sociology of “primitive societies”, terms that have been shed given their pejorative connotations of evolutionary backwardness. Now, many anthropologists are at work in their home societies, investigating minorities, the media, suburban cultures, and so forth.
Sociology, on the other hand, has come to be described by some as an anthropology of the industrialized, “Western” world, of societies such as those of Canada, the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia. However, this too is now outmoded, as many sociologists also conduct research on politics and development in the “Third World” for example.
With the aid of both, we will investigate a cluster of key debates in social and cultural research.