Why study anthropology?

Why study anthropology?

Anthropology broadens your horizons and changes your perspectives. It challenges our taken-for-granted assumptions about what is 'normal' and 'natural' by revealing the diversity of human experience and treating this experience seriously and with dignity.

Anthropology is relevant

Anthropology also deals with a number of contentious issues that are currently being debated in the media and other spheres of contemporary society: globalisation, migration, refugees, human rights, minorities, development, indigenous Australia, religious fundamentalism, drug policies, the role of health care and so on. Anthropology allows us to delve below the surface of stereotypes, standard media commentary and political rhetoric, to deepen our understanding of these issues and to be more informed in our views.

In this era of rapid globalisation, we are all being brought into contact with people from different social and cultural backgrounds on a regular basis. At work, while travelling, shopping, or even in our lounge rooms watching TV, we encounter cultural difference all the time. In this contemporary context, which is often characterised by misunderstandings, racism, intolerance and violence against others who are perceived as different, 'barbaric' or unworthy, developing cross-cultural understanding and tolerance are more vital than ever.

Anthropology is useful

Anthropology is not only a theoretical subject but has numerous practical applications. And this is not only the case for those interested in following a career as an anthropologist. Anyone who deals with cultural difference or cross-cultural situations, whether in work, health care, education or other areas of life, will benefit from the perspectives and skills that anthropology develops.

Anthropology also helps to develop a number of generic skills.

Anthropology helps us to deal with complexity

Human social life is nothing if not complex. Social situations, beliefs and practices are intricate and multi-faceted, often bewilderingly so. Anthropology attempts to grapple with, appreciate, and capture this complexity without necessarily reducing it to simplistic models of explanation. The skills and attitudes that anthropology develops in this respect therefore help us to deal with living in a complicated world.

Anthropology is interesting

If you are curious about people from different backgrounds from yourself and are keen to understand why they do what they do, chances are you will enjoy the perspectives provided by a subject like anthropology. Studying anthropology provides the opportunity to learn about a wide range of fascinating social and cultural practices, beliefs, attitudes, events and institutions. For many people, this in itself is a worthwhile reason for doing anthropology.

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