Sociology and Anthropology (Relations and Differences)

Relationship of Sociology and Anthropology

The relation between Sociology and Anthropology is widely recognized today and they are so closely related that the two are frequently indistinguishable. Both of them are fast-growing.

In fact, anthropologist Kroeber pointed out that they are twin sisters.


Evans Pritchard considers social anthropology as a branch of sociology. Sociology is greatly benefited by anthropological studies.

  • Sociologists depend upon anthropologists to understand the present-day social phenomena because anthropology provides knowledge of the past meaning that knowledge of history tells how the present society came into existence.
  • Without the help of Anthropology, the study of Sociology can’t be complete. Sociological topics such as the origin of the family, the beginning of marriage, private property, the origin of religion, etc., can be better understood in the light of anthropological knowledge.
  • Further, sociology has borrowed many concepts like cultural area, culture traits, interdependent traits, cultural lag, culture patterns, culture configuration, etc., from socio-cultural anthropology. An understanding of society can be gained by comparing various cultures, particularly, the modern with the primitive. Sociology accepts the anthropological conclusion that ‘racial superiority is not responsible for mental development.’ Thus, Sociology is greatly benefited by anthropological studies.
  • Anthropologists, today are also conducting a study of the present people and their societies as the sociologist do. In a number of universities, anthropology and sociology are administratively organized into one department.
  • The conclusions drawn by sociologists have also helped anthropologists in their studies. For e.g. anthropologists like L.H. Morgan and his followers have come to the conclusion that primitive communism existed in primitive society (which is studied by anthropologists) from the concept and practice of private property in modern society (which is studied by sociologists).

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.

Difference between Sociology and Anthropology

Sociology and Anthropology differ from each other in certain respects. Differences between the two subjects may be mentioned here.


  • Sociology Sociology is a science of society and social relationships. Whereas anthropology is a science of man and his behavior.
  • Sociology studies modern, civilized and complex societies. Whereas anthropology studies ancient, simple, primitive, and non-literate societies.
  • Sociology studies society as a whole. Whereas anthropology studies man as a part of society.
  • The scope of Sociology is very wide. Whereas the scope of Anthropology is very limited.
  • Sociologists generally concentrate their studies on institutions such as family, marriage, or processes such as social change, social mobility, etc. But anthropologists usually concentrate on small societies such as those of Newar, Raute, etc.
  • Sociologists study ‘small’ as well as ‘large’ societies. But anthropologists concentrate their studies in a given “culture area”, such as Melanesia, Raute, etc.
  • Sociology makes use of observation, interviews, social surveys, questionnaires, and other methods and techniques in its investigations. Anthropologists directly go and live in the communities they study. They make use of direct observations and interviews.

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