In 1928, breakthrough research was presented by a 23-year old researcher named Margaret Mead in the field of Anthropology. The genesis of her research could be traced to the inquisitiveness that Mead had on adolescents’ behavior – Are the disturbances which vex the adolescents are due to the nature of adolescence itself or due to the civilization?
And under different conditions does adolescence present a different picture? “To answer this question, she conducted her study among a small group of Samoans a village of 600 people on the island of Tau in which she got to know, lived with, observed, and interviewed (through an interpreter) 68 young women between the age of 9 and 20.
She concluded that the passage from childhood to adulthood (adolescence) in Samoa was a smooth transition and not marked by the emotional or psychological distress, anxiety, or confusion seen in the civilized or to say the industrialized societies. Margaret Mead’s research not only provided a ground reality of the sub-industrial society but also it was a myth buster of the general understanding of the adolescent stress and viewing it as a universal phenomenon.
The basic purpose of providing the research was to present this field dedicated to the study of mankind as not only a branch of social sciences in which one could pursue his/her career but also to show that anthropology is like any other field of natural sciences through which myths and traditional thinking is replaced by rational and scientific thinking. Generally, it is viewed that social sciences are only composed of facts and theories.
Thus, students who have a high capacity of mugging up what they read or those who do not have a liking for scientific or analytical thinking should go into the field of social sciences. This is a misconception that people have toward those in social sciences but it is important to note that social sciences are one field where there are no set universal principles that can be applied to each context but it includes taking into consideration the sensitivity of each context (physical and social environment) and understanding how each context influences the behavior of individuals in that particular context.
Thus, subjects like anthropology, psychology, and sociology require a lot of critical thinking and self-reflection into the phenomenon and the context that one is studying through observation and interviews. Thus, the way we define adolescent’s behavior, as characterized by a period of identity crises, confusions and struggle to prove one’s own worth require us to take into consideration Mead’s research result that it is the environment and the context which influence the living and the behavior of the person.
Why one should study anthropology? There are several reasons to study this subject and few or no reasons for not taking this field as a specialization. Anthropologists study topics that include the origin and evolution of Homo sapiens, the organization of human social and cultural relations, human physical traits, human behavior, the variations among different groups of humans, how the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens has influenced its social organization and culture and so forth.
Regardless of the field in which one has been, one could attain his/her specialization in anthropology as it has various sub-fields like social anthropology, linguistics, anthropology, media anthropology, psychology anthropology, biological anthropology, archaeological anthropology, economic anthropology, medical anthropology, feminist anthropology, cognitive anthropology, public anthropology, digital anthropology, environmental anthropology and many more.
Thus, even if you belong to the field of science and mathematics, or medical and want to study how your research thesis could be tested and studied in a different context and you are also motivated to diversify your field of knowledge, then here is the subject which could help you to attain your goal while rooting at your primary subject of specialization at the same time.
Many of the top universities in India like the University of Delhi, Punjab University, Kurukshetra University, Karnataka University, and the University of Allahabad offer BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. in Anthropology. Job opportunities are ever-increasing for anthropology students with both international and national organizations like UNICEF, Archaeological Survey of India hiring students who have done their specialization in this subject, nongovernment organizations working for the development of tribal areas/backward areas, medical research establishments working on nutrition/preventive medicine, human resources department of large firms for cross-cultural communication training of managers also hire freshers from this field.
Being a student of Psychology and after studying papers on Gender and Psychology at the Margins at my post-graduate level, I have come to realize the importance of socio-cultural context and how it influences the behavior of a person and the living of a community. It has motivated me to do my further specialization in Anthropology because it is necessary that if you want to understand the psyche of a person then one has to understand the nuances of the effects of the social environment in which one is brought up.
Thus, Anthropology through its method of study like ethnography helps one to recover the voices of communities and people that have never been heard and bring into fore the knowledge of the language, people and societies that have been at the back due to our tendency to conform to universalities and all or none hypothesis.