Social anthropology

Social anthropology is the subdiscipline of anthropology that investigates the cultural properties of human societies. Topics include cultural norms, morals, laws and customs, and there is a particular focus on the comparative study of non-industrialised societies.

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Latest Research and Reviews

News and Comment

  • News and Views |

    Researchers debate whether the adoption of agriculture was done at the expense of leisure time. A new study in ten camps of contemporary Agta hunter-gatherers actually finds that individuals who engage more in non-foraging activities have less leisure time. Results highlight the need to consider the evolutionary costs of the transition to agriculture.

    • Victoria Reyes-García
  • News and Views |

    At the global scale, indigenous lands are critical for biodiversity conservation and cultural survival. Yet at local, sub-national and national scales both are often threatened.

    • Richard Howitt
  • News and Views |

    What would motivate someone to willingly enter frontline combat against the Islamic State? New research finds three compelling reasons: commitment to some sacred values, forsaking commitment to their own kin for those same values, and belief in the spiritual strength of one’s own group compared to that of the enemy.

    • John G. Horgan
  • News and Views |

    How robust is the perceived association between immorality and atheism? Studies across 13 countries demonstrate that immoral behaviour is intuitively associated with atheism: people routinely assume that an immoral person is likely to be an atheist, and this effect is consistent across a wide range of societies, though with notable variation.

    • Adam B. Cohen
    •  & Jordan W. Moon
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Europe has witnessed an increase in covert cultural racism that is reflected in recent political turmoil in its nation-states. Far-right movements and populists are exploiting fear about existential and ontological threats to spur the exclusion of unwanted ‘others’, such as Muslims, Roma, and refugees.

    • Catarina Kinnvall