Anthropology is a discipline, which serves the infinite curiosity about human beings. Etymologically the term is derived from two distinct Greek words —’Anthropos’, the meaning of which is man and the ‘logos’ refers to science or study. Therefore, we define anthropology as a discipline which studies the human beings, scientifically. But this definition is incomplete for the reason that there are also several disciplines, which are concerned with man; they study one aspect of man or the other.
Sociology, psychology, political science, economics, history, human biology and even the humanistic disciplines like philosophy, literature, etc. form this group. Each of those disciplines is specialized to deal with a typical aspect of different groups of man.
They may also cling to specific cultures and their moorings. Therefore, none of these disciplines can cover the whole jurisdiction of anthropology. Rather anthropology is a larger whole where different disciplines unite together despite the diversity of their interest.
It possesses its own distinctiveness in the study of man. It is the only discipline, which strives to understand man and his actions in totality. Anthropologists believe in the integration of knowledge and realize the harmful effects of compartmentalization.
The index of anthropologists is man—wherever may he be whether on land, air or sea. They study the human beings in all climates and times. Men of the prehistoric as well as the historic past, men of the present generation and also of coming future come within the purview of anthropologists.
But obviously they are not concerned with a particular man as such; their attention centre on ‘men in group’. They perceive man not only as animal but also a social human having a history. People irrespective of their genders, ages and occupations are considered. Anthropologists deal with both male and female—old, middle-aged and young.
Doctors, lawyers, students, agriculturists, public administrators, bureaucrats, etc. all are taken into account. People with different ideologies (democrat, communist, socialist etc.) or different creeds (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Zoroastrian, pagan, ancestor worshipper, atheist, etc.) appear to them with same importance.
Even, the village folk and the city people are investigated with equal attention. Man has been conceived as the creator of his cultural destiny. Therefore, anthropology is concerned with a rounded study of man—it studies men at all levels of culture. None of the other disciplines can be so pervasive.
For example, the economists who are interested in economic behaviour of man, study man solely from the economic point of view. Political scientists work with that human behaviour, which are related only to the political affairs. A historian while is concerned with the past events of men, a geographer wants to project man in relation to his habitat and environment.
A human biologist or a physiologist similarly involves him for the determination of biological or physiological configuration of a body where a psychologist wholly deals with the mental behaviour of an individual. Thus, each of these disciplines segregates some of the aspects instead of studying them all at a time. Approach of anthropology is therefore unique in the study -of man. It never analyses human behaviour in piece meal manner. Rather it fries to cover all aspects; all possible range of human behaviour.