Main branches of anthropology

What are the main branches of Anthropology?

At the time of origin of Anthropology, anthropologist did not divide the subject into branches as there was less material/topic to discuss. Anthropologists have been researching and developing to make the subject more diverse and extensive.

Now, Anthropology has become so vast that, for an individual, it is impossible to master the whole anthropology. So, there was a need for specialization, many anthropologists expressed their concern about it and the most acceptable division propounded by Franz Boas. He divided anthropology into four division;

  1. Socio-cultural Anthropology
  2. Physical/biological Anthropology
  3. Archaeological Anthropology
  4. Linguistic Anthropology

Let’s go in detail analysis of the main branches of Anthropology.

Main branches of Anthropology

Socio-cultural Anthropology

According to Charles Winick, Socio-Cultural anthropology is ” the study of social behaviour, especially from the point of view of the systematic comparative study of social forms and institutions”

Other anthropologists said, “social anthropology is a comparative study of human societies.”
Socio-cultural anthropology deals with the study of human at different place with different cultural and behavioural variation. Anthropologist specialized in this field are interested in the description and comparison of all human cultures and they search and describe diverse cultures.

The tendency to emphasize particular aspects of culture has given rise to a variety of subfields within socio-cultural anthropology.

Ecological anthropologists: Emphasize relationships between cultures and environment.

Economic anthropology: Discuss the method of production, distribution, consummation, demand and supply of goods over a long period of time.

Social Anthropologist: Grouping and organization among various cultural people and the relation and method of communication among them.

Psychological Anthropology: This study focuses on individual, their behavioural and cultural factors and the relation and effect of environment on them.

Physical/Biological Anthropology

It is considered the oldest branch of Anthropologist. Anthropology mainly developed on the basis of fieldwork and direct action and evidence from participants. But Biological anthropology developed on the theoretical basis and there is a direct linkage between biology and medicine.

It studies human being in diverse culture and examines the role of culture in the evolution of the species and also deals with primates, genes, survival etc.
The main branches of Physical Anthropology are;

  1. Palaeontology
  2. Neontology
  3. Ethnology

Archaeological Anthropology

Archaeological anthropology consider reconstructing the cultural forms of the past and to trace the growth and development in time.

It is the study of the object as means of describing and explaining the growth and development of human behaviour and origin, growth and development of culture.
Archaeological Anthropology is divided into four branches:

  1. Pre-Historic Archaeological Anthropology
  2. Text- Aided Archaeological Anthropology
  3. Text-Free Archaeological Anthropology
  4. Salvage Archaeological Anthropology

Linguistic Anthropology

Linguistic anthropology is the study of speech and language as a socio-cultural phenomenon across space and time. Linguistic anthropology is not linguistics but linguistics in the context of culture and society.

It also deals with how language influences social life.
Contemporary linguistic anthropology consists of five branches:

  1. Historical Linguistics
  2. Structural Linguistics
  3. Socio-cultural Linguistics
  4. Ethnosemantics
  5. Psycholinguistics


Anthropology is subject that deals with vast topic from primates to modern human and their social, cultural, behavioural, genetic and overall development.

Some anthropologist thought the origin of Indian anthropology from 1774 from the establishment of the Asiatic Society but others demanded they didn’t think so, they said the origin started from the colonial era of the British.

Read Also: What is the relationship between Anthropology and Psychology? [2021]

Relationship between Anthropology and History [2021]

Discuss the relationship between Anthropology and Earth Science [2021]

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