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Difference Between Sociology and Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of humans and their behaviour at a more individualistic level.

In turn, sociology studies the ways in which groups of humans interact with each other and how their behaviour is influenced by social structures, categories (religion, gender) and institutions

The similarities they share are that they both study human behaviour but the focus is different. 

Anthropology studies human behaviour at the micro-level of an individual which an anthropologist will take an example of the larger culture.

Sociology, on the other hand, tends to look at the bigger picture, often studying political movements, and the power relations of different groups with each other.

Difference between Anthropology and Sociology - IAS Mains 2020

Both terms are important within the context of the IAS Exam.

This article will further highlight the differences between Anthropology and Sociology

The difference between the Anthropology and Sociology is highlighted in the table below:

Differences between the Anthropology and Sociology



Emphasis on culture and its physical and social characteristics (kinship, language, religion, gender, art, etc.) Emphasis on society and its origins and development (social classes, institutions and structures, social movements)
Has its historical basis in studying non-Western cultures or  Has its historical basis in studying industrialized Western societies
Micro-level focus – studies how individuals, families, and communities engage with the larger society and social trends Macro-level focus – studies how the larger society and social trends affect individuals, families, and communities
Incorporates material/physical culture (archaeology, biophysical evidence) Incorporates economics and statistics to a larger degree
Natural Science Social Science
Anthropology relies on qualitative data to come to a conclusion Sociology relies on quantitative data to arrive at a conclusion
Anthropologist make use of a smaller sample size for immersive and localized data collection Sociologist make use of a broader, larger sample size
It is done to understand different cultures It is done to solve contemporary social problems
Anthropology became more professionalised following as a social science in the early 20th century The term ‘sociology’ was coined by Auguste Comte in the 1850s when he published the “Treatise on Sociology”

If you have decided to choose anthropology as an optional in the UPSC Mains exam, the following links will help

For those that have chosen sociology as an option the following links will be of immense help:

Difference Between Sociology and Anthropology – Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Sociology and Anthropology


What is the importance of studying Anthropology and Sociology?

The study of Anthropology and Sociology provides valuable skills for living and working in a globalising and inter-connected world by exposing you to different systems of beliefs, values and practices found among the world’s cultures.

What is the main focus of anthropology?

Anthropology is the study of people, past and present, with a focus on understanding the human condition both culturally and biologically. This joint emphasis sets anthropology apart from other humanities and natural sciences.

Familiarise yourself with the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page. For more articles and exam-related preparation materials, refer to the links given in the table below:

Related Links

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Insight Current Affairs PDF World Current Affairs UPSC Syllabus in Hindi PDF
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