Quinebaug Valley
Community College
Danielson, CT

Brian Donohue-Lynch

The Five Fields of Anthropology

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A Brief Overview
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Types of Cultures/Societies

Probably since the beginning of human societies, people have looked for ways to understand the variety of living communities around them. From simple "Them and Us" classifications, to complex schemes of so-called "cultural evolution" (eg. "from barbarism to civilization") humans have devised countless ways to catalog human diversity. Most often these supposed patterns reflect judgements about "others" in relation to one's own cultures' beliefs and practices; quite often, not surprisingly, those doing the classifying often end up being the ideal measure against which all other peoples are to be compared. This reflects what is known as ethnocentrism.

More recently, anthropologists have tried to avoid such judgemental classifications, while trying to recognize nonetheless common patterns and types of societies that might be regularly observed throughout the world and across history.

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Direct your questions or comments to: Dr. Brian Donohue-Lynch

Last Modified: 9/2/02