Do you like to watch people when you're out?

Do you ever wonder how you can help communities?

If so, then cultural anthropology might be for you!

Anthropology is the study of people. Cultural anthropology, which is sometimes called social anthropology, is the study of people's societies and cultures.

Cultural anthropologists study how modern humans affect and are affected by the world around them.

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Many cultural anthropologists will focus on an area of the world on a topic like political science, art, history, education, architecture, psychology, or public health.

Examples of research topics:

  • War and violence's effects on children in Eritrea

  • The relationship between the Boston Catholic Church and its Spanish-speaking members

  • The role of women and graffiti/street art in 1970s Northern Ireland

  • The harm of colonialism on Canadian First Nations education systems

  • Access to health services by women in Northern Mexico

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Where Can Cultural Anthropologists Get Work?

Specifically, a cultural anthropologist is an academic position in a university or a high-level position with an NGO that often requires a PhD.

Cultural Anthropologist in the Public or Private Sector

  • Works with government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and humanitarian and social welfare groups

  • Conducts research and provides data on populations of interest

  • Often, a PhD is required, but some positions are ok with a Masters degree

Cultural Anthropologist in Academia

  • Works for a college or university

  • Also has teaching responsibilities

  • Almost always requires a PhD

  • Will also work with the agencies, NGOs, and groups on their research projects

How much do Cultural Anthropologists earn?

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USA: Average yearly salary average salary of US$62,288.

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Canada: Average yearly salary of CA$77,895.

How Do Cultural Anthropologists Contribute To Society?

They provide qualitative and quantitative data about people to government agencies, NGOs, and other groups to help:

  • plan public health campaigns

  • allocate funding for maximum effect

  • find causes and effects of social issues

  • humanize statistics

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Those who work at universities provide case studies, analyses, and fieldwork to students to teach:

  • social, critical, and systems theories

  • data recording, analysis, and processing

  • analytical writing skills

  • the area or field being written about (e.g. Religion in Boston)

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What Is A Regular Day For Cultural Anthropologists?

Research and data collection takes time, but only a small fraction compared to:

  • The background research, permit application, grant writing, and other support tasks for any new or ongoing research projects.

  • The data processing, analysis, writing, editing, presenting, and finding publication outlets.

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For cultural anthropologists at universities, a significant part of their time is also spent:

  • preparing for, teaching, and evaluating students in cultural anthropology topics

  • supporting masters and doctoral candidates.

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You Will Love It if...

  • You like to dive deep into a narrow topic for months or years at a time.

  • You are comfortable with maintaining strict, careful data collection methods and rigorous academic standards.

  • You always remember the humanity in the situation.

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Look For Another Career If ...

  • You are not comfortable around people and in potentially unfamiliar situations.

  • You do not like to write, write, and write some more and then write again to incorporate constructive criticism on your project

  • You are not flexible when working with various agencies, organizations, and people.

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Which Friend Would Be A Good Fit?

You and three friends are chatting about possible career paths. They have each taken a variety of college courses and are still undecided on their exact direction.

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  • Rhett has a strong background in data collection and processing. He is extremely interested in queer culture in your area, especially in how elders found their identity. But he's often nervous when talking with people.

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  • Zelda speaks three languages fluently and was considering pre-med in order to help people, but finds the hard science much less interesting than figuring out how to directly support communities. In zir schoolwork, zie often struggles with their writing.

  • Fabiola has been interning with a local NGO and is curious about the data they collect to determine who and how to help. She writes quite well but is often taken aback in uncertain situations.

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Quiz

Taking into account their interests, strengths, and weaknesses, which friend might be interested in being a cultural anthropologist?

Take Action

Are you ready to learn more about becoming a Cultural Anthropologist?

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This Byte has been authored by

EC

Elizabeth Cahill

she/her/hers | Curriculum & Instructional Designer