Applied Anthropology?
Or, Yes, You Can Get a Job as An
(modified from McGraw-Hill 2004)
What is Applied Anthropology?
 Applied Anthropology refers to the
application of anthropological data,
perspectives, theory, and methods to identify,
assess, and solve social problems.
 Applied anthropologists work for groups that
promote, manage, and assess programs
aimed at influencing human social
Types of Applied Anthropology
 Applied anthropologist come from all four subfields
 Biological anthropologists work in public health,
nutrition, genetic counseling, substance abuse,
epidemiology, aging, mental illness, and forensics.
 Applied archaeologists locate, study, and preserve
prehistoric and historic sites threatened by
development (Cultural Resource Management).
More Applied Anthropology
 Cultural anthropologists work with social
workers, businesspeople, advertising
professionals, factory workers, medical
professionals, school personnel, and
economic development experts.
 Linguistic anthropologists frequently work
with schools in districts with various
What is the Role of the Applied
 Three views:
 The Ivory Tower
 The Schizoid
 The Advocate
What is the Role of the Applied
 The “ivory tower”
view contends that
anthropologists should
avoid practical matters
and focus on research,
publication, and
What is the Role of the Applied
 The “schizoid” view is
that anthropologists
should carry out, but
not make or criticize,
What is the Role of the Applied
 The “advocacy” view
argues that since
anthropologists are
experts on human
problems and social
change, they should
make policy affecting
Jobs for Applied
 Professional anthropologists work for a wide
variety of employers: tribal and ethnic
associations, governments, nongovernmental
organizations, etc.
 During World War II, anthropologists worked
for the U.S. government to study Japanese
and German culture.
Responsibilities of the
 The primary ethical obligation of the
anthropologist is to the people, species, or
materials he or she studies.
 Researchers must respect the safety, dignity,
and privacy of the people, species, or
materials studied.
 Researchers must obtain the informed
consent of the people to be studied.
Responsibility to Scholarship
and Science
 Anthropologists should expect to encounter
ethical dilemmas during their work.
 Anthropologists are responsible for the
integrity and reputation of their discipline, or
scholarship, and of science.
 Researchers should disseminate their
findings to the scientific and scholarly
Responsibility to the Public
 Researchers should make their results
available to sponsors, students, decision
makers, and other nonanthropologists.
 Anthropologists may move beyond
disseminating research results to a position of
Academic and Applied
 Academic anthropology had its beginning in
the early 20th century (Kroeber, Malinowski,
 After World War II, the “baby boom” fueled
the growth of the American educational
system and anthropology, fostering the
further growth of academic anthropology.
The Spread of Applied
 Applied anthropology began to grow in the
1970s as anthropologists found jobs with
international organizations, governments,
businesses, and schools.
 The National Historic Preservation Act of
1966 resulted in the new field of cultural
resource management.
The Pragmatism of Cultural
 In the 1960s, anthropology’s focus fit with
prevailing social interests, which began the
turn to practical applications.
 Anthropology’s ethnographic method,
holism, and systemic perspective make it
uniquely valuable in applications to social
Applications of Cultural
 Applied cultural anthropology has excelled
in four areas in particular:
 Education
 Urban social issues
 Medicine
 Business
Anthropology and Education
 In particular, anthropology has help facilitate
the accommodation of cultural differences in
classroom settings.
 Examples include English as a second
language taught to Spanish-speaking
students; different, culturally based reactions
to various pedagogical techniques.
Urban Anthropology
 Human populations are
becoming increasingly
 Urban anthropology is
a cross-cultural and
ethnographic study of
global urbanization and
life in the cities.
Urban vs. Rural
 Robert Redfield was an
early student of the
differences between the
rural and urban contexts.
 Various instances of urban
social forms are given as
examples (Kampala,
Uganda) social networks in
Medical Anthropology
 Medical anthropology is both academic
(theoretical) and applied (practical).
 Medical anthropology is the study of disease
and illness in their sociocultural context.
 Disease is a scientifically defined ailment.
 Illness is an ailment as experienced and
perceived by the sufferer.
Disease and World
 The spread of certain
diseases, like malaria
and schistosomiasis,
have been associated
with population growth
and economic
The Three Theories of Illness
 Personalistic disease theories blame illness
on agents such as sorcerers, witches, ghosts,
or ancestral spirits.
 Naturalisitc disease theories explain illness in
impersonal terms (e.g., Western medicine).
 Emotionalistic disease theories assume
emotional experiences cause illness (e.g.,
susto among Latino populations).
Health-Care Systems and
 All societies have health-care systems.
 Health-care systems consist of beliefs,
customs, specialists, and techniques aimed at
ensuring health and preventing, diagnosing,
and treating illness.
 Health cares specialists include curers,
shamans, and doctors.
What Have We Learned from
Non-Western Medicine?
 Non-Western systems of medicine are often
more successful at treating mental illness
than Western medicine.
 They often explain mental illness by causes
that are easier to identify and combat.
 Non-Western systems of medicine diagnose
and treat the mentally ill in cohesive groups
with full support of their kin.
The Down-side of Western
 Despite its advances, Western medicine has
 Overprescription of drugs and tranquilizers.
 Unnecessary surgery.
 Impersonality and inequality of the patientphysician relationship.
 Overuse of antibiotics.
Medical Development
 Like economic
development, medical
development must fit into
local systems of health
 Medical anthropologists
can serve as cultural
interpreters between local
systems and Western
Anthropology and Business
 Anthropologists can provide unique perspectives on
organizational conditions and problems within
 Applied anthropologists have acted as “cultural
brokers” in translating managers’ goals or workers’
concerns to the other group.
 For business, key features of anthropology include
ethnography, cross-cultural expertise, and focus on
cultural diversity.
Careers in Anthropology
 Because of its breadth, a degree in anthropology
may provide a flexible basis for many different
 Other fields, such as business, have begun to
recognize the worth of such anthropological
concepts as microcultures.
 Anthropologists work professionally as consultants
to indigenous groups at risk from external systems.

Applied Anthropology-