Four-field approach

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In America, the subject of Anthropology has been divided up into four smaller subjects. This is call the "four-field approach". The four types of anthropology included are archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology, and cultural anthropology. [1] Together, these four types of anthropology explain how different humans are all over the world and throughout history.[2]

There are some people who think applied anthropology, which uses the information learned from studying anthropology to solve modern problems of health or education, it's own subject, which would make it a "five field approach", but this is not as common.[3]

Most students who study anthropology learn about all four big kinds of anthropology but later focus on only one or two of the subjects.

History of The Four-Field Approach[change | change source]

This approach was created by Franz Boas (1858-1942), also named “the father of anthropology.”[1] He is famous for making anthropology popular in the United States.[4] Boas wanted to show people that human activities, ideas, and choices are different in different places. He believed that the people should be studied holistically, not just looking at one part of their life, but how all the parts or their life fit together and create their culture. This includes studying people's history, the objects they make, their bodies, languages, stories, and customs[5].

Application[change | change source]

Since the 20th century, most American universities have used the four field approach. Other countries, like England, do not divide anthropology in the same way. For example, archaeology is a part of the subject of history and not anthropology[6].

The Four Fields[change | change source]

Archaeology[change | change source]

Archaeology is the study of how people lived in the past. Archaeologists, people who study archaeology, learn from things left by people who lived a long time ago. They examine very old objects like pottery, stone tools, coins, books or anything made or used by humans. Usually, these objects are buried in the ground and need to be excavated, or taken out. These objects help archaeologists understand where and how people lived a long time ago.[7]

Some famous archeologist include:[change | change source]

Cultural Anthropology[change | change source]

Cultural anthropology is the study of human culture. Culture is the way groups of people live their lives based on what is normal for where they live. Cultures change as people’s ideas change. Cultural anthropologists look at how different cultures are by comparing things like people’s ideas, art, and food.[1]

Unlike archaeologist who study people of the past, cultural anthropologist mostly study people alive today.

It is also related to sociology and social psychology.[1]

It is also called "social anthropology".

Some famous sociocultural anthropologists include:[change | change source]

Linguistics[change | change source]

Linguistics is the study of how people speak and the words they use and how their language developed (evolved). Linguists, people who study linguistics, also examine how language changes what people think and how people change language. They also look at how words make sentences.[1]

Some famous linguists include:[change | change source]


Physical Anthropology[change | change source]

Physical anthropology is the study of human body science (biology), including how people adapt to where they live and how bodies changed over time (evolution). They do this by comparing bones from very old humans to the bones of humans today.[3]

Physical anthropologists also study non-human primates.[1]

It is also called "biological anthropology".[3]

Some famous physical anthropologists include:[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Erickson, P (2016). A History of Anthropological Theory. North York, Ontario and Tonawanda, NY: University of Toronto Press.
  2. Harkin, M (2010-02-26). "Uncommon Ground: Holism and the Future of Anthropology". Reviews in Anthropology 39 (1): 25–45. ISSN 0093-8157. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Harris, Marvin (1997). Culture, People, Nature: An Introduction to General Anthropology. New York, New York: Longman. ISBN 0673990931.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Anderson, E N (2003-05). "Four-Field Anthropology". Anthropology News 44 (5): 3–3. doi:10.1111/an.2003.44.5.3.2. ISSN 1541-6151. 
  5. Moore, Jerry D. (2009). Visions of Culture: an Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. Walnut Creek, California: Altamira. pp. pp. 33–46. ISBN 9783110816099.CS1 maint: extra text (link)
  6. "Discussion of a Problem Posed by Eiichiro Ishida: European vs. American Anthropology". Current Anthropology 6 (3): 303–318. 1965. ISSN 0011-3204. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2739927. 
  7. Coward, F (2014). Archaeology and Anthropology Past, Present and Future. Journal of the Royal Anthropology Institute. ISBN 9781847889669.
  8. James, T.G.H. (1992). Howard Carter: the path to Tutankhamun. London: Kegan Paul. ISBN 0710304250.
  9. "V. Gordon Childe | British historian and archaeologist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  10. "Roman Jakobson | American linguist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  11. Isbell, Lynne A (2017). The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. UK: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 599–600.
  12. "Dian Fossey | Biography, Research, Books, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  13. Holloway, M (1997). "Profile: Jane Goodall - Gombe's Famous Primate". Scientific American 227: 42-44.