What are sociology and anthropology?
In general, the disciplines of sociology and anthropology describe the
patterning, problems and prospects of human relationships. That is, they
consider how and why people behave as they do, the implications of these
patterns for other aspects of social life, and how new ways of living
may be built and sustained. Sociology and anthropology have as their principal
objective the development and sharing of knowledge about human societies
At Elon, the disciplines of sociology and anthropology are combined to
provide students with a comprehensive and integrated understanding of
human societies. Our department's approach is comprehensive in
that it offers course work covering a wide range of societies and examines
these societies at many different levels. However, sociology and anthropology
courses do much more than describe the overall characteristics of societies,
including such issues as cultural values, population characteristics and
everyday customs. These courses also analyze basic socio-cultural institutions,
such as family life, religion and economics; patterns of social difference,
such as race, class and gender; types of social organization, like schools,
businesses and social clubs; forms of interaction; and even the ways in
which personal identity is formed.
Our program is integrative in the sense that students are shown
not only how societies themselves are connected in a wider global context
but also how the different elements of each society are woven into complex
cultural patterns. In the past, sociology courses focused more on patterns
of interaction and organization in advanced industrial societies like
the United States, while anthropology courses emphasized the cultural
environments of indigenous and traditional peoples. However, in recent
years, forces of globalization and a growing emphasis on cultural diversity
have brought these disciplines together into a powerful, mutually reinforcing
relationship. At Elon, sociology students have their knowledge of their
own society enhanced dramatically by the evolutionary and comparative
perspectives of anthropology.
Download the Sociology Fact
Sheet in PDF format.
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