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Anthropology (Greek: ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos: "man"; and -λογία, logia, "study") is a science which studies the human condition, including past, present, and future; biology, society, language and culture.

Anthropology in the United States is divided into four separate disciplines, which overlap each other to varying degrees.

Cultural anthropology

The study of human society and culture. Methods of research take a wide variety of forms, ranging from living among cultural groups to digging through American trash cans. Cultural anthropologists are currently in great demand by international corporations and the American Armed Forces.

Recently, many ethnographers are working in their own societies, studying social interaction among immigrant workers, the societies of homeless people, and the lives of Wall Street investors.

Cultural anthropology has several sub-fields, among them:

The application of anthropological theory to practical problems.
The study of systems of production, exchange, and trade.
The study of the political process and institutions.
The study of humanity, culture, and social settings from within an urban environment.

Physical anthropology

The study of Homo sapiens from a mainly-evolutionary point of view. Physical anthropologists are also trained in skeletal analysis, and forensic and medical anthropology, and are often called upon to assist in criminal investigations. Sub-fields include:

A field related to Darwinian evolution, paleoanthropologists study human ancestry, including fossils, trackways and other trace remains prior to the written record.
A science concerned with the post mortem identification of deceased persons, of which gathered evidence is used in a court of law.
The study of human adaptations to the environment.
The study of bones in a biocultural context, including birth, growth, development, age, and death.
The study of ancient diseases.

Linguistic anthropology

The study languages, their development, and how they influence social life. Linguistic anthropology was once a sub-field of cultural anthropology.


The study of man through the material remains of cultures. There are many subfields within archaeology. Most archaeologists are involved in academia, studying a specific culture or cultural area's past. There are also many applied archaeologists who work for contractor companies or the government to preserve archaeological sites around the world.

See also