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 SSC 131 - Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology


This course introduces the field of anthropology as a way to consider humanity in its numerous manifestations and in its intricate complexities. In trying to account for the social and cultural variation in the world, it explores our own everyday practices and ideas and relates them to alien and seemingly exotic practices in far-away places. The course thus helps transform ‘the strange’ into ‘the ordinary’, and ‘the ordinary’ into ‘the exotic’. In the process, students will gain a general, though comprehensive, introduction to the aims, scope, methods, and history of anthropology. In particular, we explore three complementary avenues to the comparative study of human society and culture: ethnographic description and analysis of particular societies and cultures; the comparative study of social institutions; and different theoretical approaches involved in description, analysis and comparison. 

The course is divided into two parts. In Part I, we introduce anthropology, its history and key concepts, and notions of identity and difference, i.e. ways of categorizing people in relation to others. In Part II, we turn toward aspects of anthropological research, while we also will investigate some anthropological sub-disciplines.

In most instances, there are two hours of lecture and two hours of group discussion per week.  Each class meeting usually contains both a lecture and discussion.  Students are required to complete writing exercises and prepare two discussion sessions in teamwork with colleagues.  Students are also expected to participate fully in all discussions and to read in preparation for each meeting.


Dr. Herman Tak oDr. John Friedman​​



Required for

This course is required in order to take the following course:

  • SSC 243 Environment and Society 
  • SSC 244 Urban Geography: Urbanization and Cities of the Advanced Economies 

This course is an alternative requirement for:

  • ​SSC 215 Consumer Society and Media
  • SSC 231 Anthropology and the Study of Politics
  • SSC 232 The Development Encounter: Anthropological Perspectives
  • SSC 233 Religion and Modernization: An Anthropological Approach
  • SSC 242 Cities: A Global Perspective
  • SSC 312 Contemporary Latin American Social Theory
  • SSC 313 Migration and Integration
  • SSC 331 Faces of the State: A View from Anthropology
  • SSC 332 The Dynamics of Globalization
  • SSC 333 Anthropology of European Transition
  • SSC 334 Advanced Cultural Studies
  • SSC 341 Power and Space​