What is Anthropology?



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Anthropology is the study of all factors of human life and culture. It observes focuses on how people live, what they think, what they create, and how they interact with their environments. Society, culture and evolution, are crucial to understanding what makes humans unique. Together, these ideas consist of the primary ways in which we describe, explain, and understand human life.

Evolution is a process in which characteristics of living organisms change over several generations as traits are passed from generation to generation. The science of evolution tries to find and understand the biological forces that caused ancient organisms to develop into the diversity of life seen on Earth today. Culture refers to the ways of life learned and shared by people in social groups. Cultures are comprised of learned behaviors and concepts, principal viewpoints, customs, rituals and many artifacts. The people in a human society generally share common cultural behaviors, which are produced through evolution.

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Why is it so important to understand human life? In order for society to be more productive we must do so. As a clear result of September 11, 2001, we see that cultural differences cause endless worldwide conflict and division. To deal with this and to put forth the proper changes necessary to eliminate the conflict, an accurate assessment and understanding of culture is required. Appropriate social change must come from adequate social assessment and understanding. I find this is one of the benefits offered by the social anthropological perspective through its holistic approach.

The study of anthropology is the root for numerous professions. I would like to concentrate on an International Business Professional in which one plans and consults. These professionals may have many projects they may be assigned to. For example, if a company wants to expand overseas, one must understand several factors. The economy, the political views, a society or countries beliefs, knowing and understanding their customs, to name a few in order to decide whether or not it may be the appropriate country or area to develop in.

International businesspersons must also learn about urban development. If one would like to find new areas of expansion, they must go about this by conducting national surveys, case studies involving a sample of local residents of the area of possible expansion, and a series of interviews in order to form ideas on which professionals base their decisions for development on. It would be the results of these categories of data collections by which plans and policies appropriate for everyone can be formed.

In the world of business it is important to study target markets; anthropology targets study, and today’s business want numerous different aspects of their market studied. Through market research for example, different ways may be revealed to enhance or modify products to fit the optimum desires of the particular society. Another example is employee productivity, which may be studied in order to develop modes of improvement.

As stated earlier, anthropology is the study humans, and in doing so professionals must realize that any information they learn or provide may effect in a change in lifestyle that may be either positive or negative. An example would be to build a factory in a low-income area; the incentive would be to increase jobs and therefore bring about a class change of many people.

However, before this decision is made, what must be understood are factors such as: who will benefit, and who, if anyone, would lose in this situation. A factory would reduce property values unless already placed in an industrial area, and could bring about other factories, thus causing development of land or loss of nature for some, pollution, etc.

It is also held very high in the code of ethics that people be treated as equals, with their well-being and self- respect held in high regard. If one were building this factory in India for example and decided to put it up near a Temple, it would clash with the society’s beliefs and be an insult to the culture. The market of societies dictates a great deal of what happens in the capitalist world, and businesses want to know what is in demand. The skill of a professional who has studied anthropology is an ideal candidate for a position in international business planning. As stated, as more companies realize this, more positions specially suited to them are created.

Anthropology allows one to understand the social and cultural impacts linked with environmental, technological, economic and other forms of change. By training they are therefore well suited to apply their skills and understanding to futures thinking and planning. The skills aid in the evaluation of alternative futures, clarification of goals, desires, needs, and encourages public participation in the planning process. By integrating human values into the process, society and planners have a complete picture of diverse views and goals within a community .

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