The Most Important Approaches to Anthropology (Curious and Holistic)

The Most Important Approaches to Anthropology are given below:

The word ‘anthropology is derived from two Greek words, ‘anthrop’ (man) and ‘logos’ (science). It etymologically defines itself as a discipline of infinite curiosity about human beings. It is also defined as ‘the science of man and his works’. But all these definitions are incomplete. To understand its actual definition, we shall have to pass through its aims and scope.

1. Curious Approach:

Anthropology tries to answer to an enormous variety of questions about humans:


(i) When, where and why did humans appear on the earth?

(ii) How and why have they changed since their first appearance on the earth?

(iii) How and why does the modern human population vary in certain physical features?


(iv) How and why have societies in the past and present varied in their customary ideas and practices?

(v) Where, when and why did people first begin living in cities?

(vi) Why do some people have darker skin than others?

(vii) Why do some languages contain more colour terms than other languages?


(viii) Why in some societies, are men allowed to marry to several women simultaneously?

(ix) Questions regarding typical characteristics of particular population.

2. Holistic Approach:

Anthropologists not only study all varieties of people; they also study many aspects of human experience, for example, when describing a group of people he or she has studies, an anthropologist might discuss the history of the area in which the people live, the physical environment, the organization of family life, the general features of their language, the group’s settlement patterns, political and economic systems, religion, and styles of art and dress.

Today, as in many other disciplines, so much information has been accumulated that anthropologists tend to specialize in one topic or area. Thus, one anthropologist may investigate the physical characteristics of our prehistoric ancestors.

Another may study the biological effect of the environment on a human population over time. Still another will concentrate on the customs of a particular group of people. Despite this specialization, however, the discipline of anthropology retains its holistic orientation in that its many different specialties, taken together, describe many aspects of human existence, both past and present, on all levels of complexity.