Like many of the social sciences, anthropology is often defined as the study of human behavior. It differs from its sister disciplines in it's in its emphasis on a holistic view of human behavior based upon the central unif6ying concept of culture. Thus anthropology attempts to understand human society in terms of the interactions between biological, historical, linguistic, economic, ideological, political, and familial factors (to name a few!)
Anthropology is traditionally split up into four sub-fields. They include sociocultural anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics. Most anthropologists study one or more of these areas. Sociocultural anthropology focuses on social patterns and cultural practices. Anthropologists that specialize in this area examine topics such as racism, immigration, human rights, "corporate culture", gender, and popular culture. These anthropologists are also interested in cultural flows across borders of all kinds, processes that are frequently referred to by terms such as transnationalism and globalization. Physical anthropology includes the study of how different environments affect human growth, development and behavior. Evolutionary theory, human adaptation and biological variation are important aspects in this field of anthropology. Most anthropologists in this field are involved with studying primatology (other primates), paleoanthropology (fossil records), bioarchaeology (prehistoric people), and the genetics of living populations. Archaeology is the study of past people and cultures. Archaeology covers a broad range of time, starting from ancient prehistory to recent history. Archaeologists look at material evidence left behind from the past and draw conclusions about the past cultures. Linguistic anthropology studies how language influences social society. This part of anthropology takes particular interest in how language can represent power, inequality, and social change. Language also reflects a lot about social identity and cultural beliefs and ideologies which are investigated through linguistic anthropology.
Anthropologists are becoming increasingly specialized: medical anthropologists engage in the study of comparative health systems and beliefs, political anthropologists study the organization of power, paleoanthropologists study the evolution of humans. Anthropologists often specialize in particular culture areas as well. At Davidson, geographical areas of study include East Asia, Mexico and Central America, North America, Africa, and the Middle East.