Sociocultural Anthropology

Sociocultural anthropology studies the rules of being human, such as how we calculate who we are related to (kinship), how we make a living, how we organize the world, and all of the beliefs that are part of religion, science, and the arts. Sociocultural anthropologists usually work with living peoples and emphasize the concept of culture. Culture is the term we apply to all of the beliefs and customs that we learn as members of society and which bind members of any given society together. It is the sharing of these customs and beliefs that allow people to anticipate and understand what other people are doing. When two people from different cultures meet, they often have trouble understanding each other. This is because each person has expectations about how other people should behave and what to expect. These expectations are not universal and when different cultures have different expectations, there is usually a communication gap. Culture is also patterned, and this makes it important to archaeologists. The patterns of culture form the mental template that all people use to interact with one another and the natural world.

From Staeck, J.P., 2001, Back to the Earth: An Introduction to Archaeology. Mountain View: Mayfield.