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I.1.2 Social Anthropology and Social work

Keith Hart – the only thing which can truly distinguish anthropology from the rest of the social sciences is that it addresses human nature plus culture plus society.

Social anthropology is the systematic study of social relationships at levels ranging from individual interaction to global political and economic relations.
It also examines the cultural, historical, physical, and linguistic behaviour of people from all parts of the globe both in the past and present.

Society and culture are basic concepts used by social anthropologists to understand the social reality around us. In social anthropology, we usually study the various comparative components of social system, their structure, their organisation, function, etc.

The social systems are the interdependent activities, institutions, and values by which people live and it is the job of social anthropologists to identify these components of social systems.

In social anthropology, various theories and concepts have been developed to understand the meanings of social structure, the social organisation and the social function.

The knowledge about society and culture is very important to the social worker.

Social workers help people in a number of ways including: dealing with their relationships with others; solving their personal, family, and community problems; and growing by learning to cope with or shape the social and environmental forces affecting their daily lives.

Social workers practice their professions in specific social and cultural contexts which will definitely influence their mode of practice.

They have to take into consideration the values, norms, beliefs, ideologies of the society before they create programs of action to ameliorate social problems and resolve conflicts.

Equally important is the necessity of the social worker to understand himself or herself.

Social workers are themselves products of the societies that they live in and are inevitably influenced by it. Knowledge about society and culture is also needed to help the social worker gain self-awareness about himself or herself.

The personality of the social worker is a major tool used in practice and culture plays a major role in the development of the personality.

Social Anthropology

In social anthropology the approach to society is theoretical and theory building is its major concern.

Anthropologists find social worker’s work to be fragmented and oriented only
towards the problem at hand.

social anthropology claims to be a value free discipline. Being objective and free from bias was considered a virtue.

Social anthropology is the systematic study of social relationships at levels ranging from individual interaction to global political and economic relations.
It also examines the cultural, historical, physical, and linguistic behaviour of people from all parts of the globe both in the past and present.

Social Work

Social work on the other hand has to be practical and deal with problems.

 

Social worker find their work to be integrated and solution oriented.

Social work on the other hand is a value based profession based on humanitarian principles.

 

social work often borrows from different disciplines from the wider society. Thus we may conclude by saying that unlike social anthropology, social work knowledge comes from a wider range of sources which includes precedent, experience and common sense.

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