Cultural anthropology is the study of how culture shapes human ideas and learned behaviours.  It examines how cultures have developed and compares similarities and differences among them.

Cultural anthropologists base their knowledge on observation.  They try to be objective and draw conclusions from data, without imposing their own personal judgments.

Many times anthropologists are faced with cultures that are very different from their own.  This makes it extremely hard for the anthropologist to participate and fully understand the customs and behaviours of some cultures.


  • Archaeology – in depth study of the past of a particular culture (especially prehistoric times)   Archeologists analyze material and human remains to discover what early humans were like, and where and how they lived
  • Applied Anthropology – action oriented-uses the information they gather to solve practical problems. (applied anthropologists might share with one culture another culture’s method of providing health care or cultivating crops)
  • Anthropological linguistics – is the study of languages.  Linguists study changes in language over time, how different languages may be related and the meaning language has for the people who speak it.
  • Ethnology – the study and comparison of past and contemporary cultures.  Through observations and interviews, ethnologists investigate cultural beliefs, practices and patterns of thought and behaviour, such as marriage customs, family relations, politics, industry, religion, art and music
  • Ethnography – In depth study of a particular culture by an anthropologist who lives with the people s/he is studying by observing, talking with people and recording their thoughts and behaviour
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "What is Cultural Anthropology," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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