FACULTY OF ARTS
SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL AND GOVERNMENT STUDIES
Social Anthropology is popular because it can be utilised in so many ways. The reason for this lies in the history of this social science. Initially, Social Anthropology studied especially non-Western communities in order to establish the ways in which people differ from each other and characteristics that could generally be regarded as common to people globally. These researchers of people and their environment had to establish themselves in a number of fields of study, encompassing politics, forms of religion, economic power, the workings of family relationships, perpetuated myths and the cultural products created. No single aspect of society could be emphasised, as was often done by social scientists studying Western societies. In order to understand non-Western societies, they had to view these societies holistically. Through this approach to non-Western societies, they gained an understanding of societies as complicated, even confusing, networks of relationships between different powers and interests that overlap and often come into conflict with one another.
The world has changed enormously since the mid-twentieth century. Countries previously colonised by Western powers gained independence. The Cold War between Communism and the West, which for a long period had dominated the world stage, came to an end. Capitalism as an economic system spread globally. In addition, migration of population groups threatened the independence of nation states. This shook social sciences’ classification of the world into neat groups to its roots. Today’s world is characterised by powerful modern institutions such as the development industry, mass media, biomedicine and global capitalism. All these institutions upset the categories with which social scientists generally operate.
Yet, it is Social Anthropology that is best geared to help us understand this highly developed, complicated world better. The reason for this is that this science focused on non-Western societies that underwent great change when they came into contact with, and were often dominated by, Western colonialism and Capitalism. This background provides insight into the ways in which powers and interests in our world support or oppose each other. In this way, we obtain an understanding of networks that link extreme wealth with extreme poverty globally – networks that determine peoples’ understanding of their world and the functioning of human relationships.
Were you to study Social Anthropology, you would be exposed to a wide field of knowledge: social development, public health, the mass media, market research and product development. The undergraduate curriculum at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University is so structured to afford you exposure to all these fields. We also collaborate with other subject disciplines focused on these fields of study in order to develop your skills further.
Please follow link to view the Social Anthropolology Brochure