What Is The Difference Between Sociology And Anthropology

In today’s post, we’ll provide an in-depth explanation of the difference between sociology and anthropology. The disciplines of sociology and anthropology describe the patterns, problems, and prospects of human relationships and the process that leads to these relationships.

Table of Contents:


Sociology is the scientific study of human society and social interactions. The sociologist, main goal is to understand social situations and look for repeating patterns in society.

They do not use facts selectively to create a lively talk show, sell newspapers, or support one particular point of view. Instead, sociologists are engaged in a rigorous scientific endeavor, which requires objectivity and detachment.

The main focus of sociology is the group, not the individual. Sociologists attempt to understand the forces that operate throughout society—forces that mold individuals, shape their behavior, and, thus, determine social events. It seeks to understand how and why people act the way they do across an enormous variety of settings.

Sociologists study social events, interactions, and patterns. They then develop theories to explain why these occur and what can result from them. In sociology, a theory is a way to explain different aspects of social interactions and to create testable propositions about society.

For example, early in the development of sociology, Émile Durkheim was interested in explaining the social phenomenon of suicide. He gathered data on large groups of people in Europe who had ended their lives. When he analyzed the data, he found that suicide rates differed among groups with different religious affiliations. For example, the data showed that Protestants were more likely to commit suicide than Catholics.

All sociologists are interested in the experiences of individuals and how those experiences are shaped by interactions with social groups and society as a whole. To a sociologist, the personal decisions an individual makes do not exist in a vacuum.

Cultural patterns and social forces put pressure on people to select one choice over another. Sociologists try to identify these general patterns by examining the behavior of large groups of people living in the same society and experiencing the same societal pressures.


Anthropology is the study, analysis, and description of humanity’s past and present. It strives for a comprehensive and coherent view of our own species within dynamic nature, organic evolution, and sociocultural development.

Anthropologists see the human being as a dynamic and complex product of both inherited genetic information and learned social behavior within a cultural milieu; symbolic language as articulate speech distinguishes our species from the great apes. Genes, fossils, artifacts, monuments, languages, and societies and their cultures are the subject matter of anthropology.

Anthropologists strive to present generalizations about the origin and evolution of our own species from remote hominid ancestors, as well as ideas about the emergence of social organizations and cultural adaptations.

As a result of both research over scores of decades and the convergence of facts and concepts, anthropologists now offer a clearer picture of humankind’s natural history and global dominance. With the human being as its focus, the discipline of anthropology mediates between the natural and social sciences while incorporating the humanities.

Anthropologists, help us to understand how different societies organize themselves politically and economically. It increasingly shed light on how complex social systems are created, established, and maintained.

Difference Between Sociology And Anthropology

  • Sociologists tend to study groups and institutions within large, often modern, industrial societies, using research methods that enable them rather quickly to gather specific information about large numbers of people. In contrast, Anthropologists often immerse themselves in another society for a long period of time, trying to learn as much as possible about that society and the relationships among its people. Thus, anthropologists tend to focus on the culture of small, preindustrial societies because they are less complex and more manageable using this method of study.
  • Sociology focuses on the social causes and consequences of individual and group behavior and interaction, while Anthropology focuses on particular populations in a  locale or region.
  • Anthropologists concentrate on using qualitative methods involving intense participation in a  community or village,  while sociologists concentrate on quantitative methods based on social surveys. Both disciplines use statistical analysis when appropriate and to a  large extent complement each other.
  • Due to the complexities of society and research areas, methods used by anthropologists and sociologists are not being mutually exclusive,  rather they are complementing to each other.

Similarities Between Sociology And Anthropology

There are many similarities between sociology and anthropology. Both contribute to the growth of others. Both are mutually related to each other. Of course, Sociology studies society whereas anthropology studies man. But as man and society are mutually interrelated hence it is very difficult to distinguish between the two. However, their close relationship can be known from the following.

Anthropology contributes to the growth of Sociology. Without the help of anthropology, the study of Sociology can’t be complete. It is a part of Sociology. Anthropology provides knowledge about ancient societies. To have a comprehensive understanding of present society,

Sociology takes the help of anthropology. Contributions of many Anthropologists like R. Brown, Linton, Mead, and Pritchard enrich sociological knowledge. The origin of family, marriage, religion, etc. can be better understood through anthropological knowledge. The concepts like cultural area, cultural traits, and cultural lag, etc. sociology accept from anthropology.

Sociology accepts the anthropological conclusion that ‘racial superiority is not responsible for mental development.’ Thus, Sociology is greatly benefited by anthropological studies.

Similarly, Sociology contributes richly towards the growth of anthropology. Anthropology accepts many concepts of Sociology. The research and contributions of many Sociologists like Emile Durkheim, Herbert Spencer is of great help to anthropology. Anthropologists greatly benefited from Sociological research. Ideas and conclusions of Sociology contribute to the research in anthropology.

Thus, there exists a great deal of relationship between Sociology and Anthropology. Both study human society and both are concerned with all kinds of social groups like families, friends, tribes, etc. Many of the ideas and concepts are used in both the discipline. Hence both are interrelated and interdependent. But in spite of the inter-relationship both differ from each other.

In conclusion the heart of sociology and anthropology lies an interest in understanding the ways in which group membership, cultural context and social hierarchies affect people’s lived experiences and world views.

Combining sociology‟s focus on contemporary and historical patterns of social interaction with anthropology’s interests in systems of shared and contested cultural meanings, the department’s offerings encourage awareness and understanding of human diversity and cultural variation locally and globally.