Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Socio-Cultural Anthropology I

Faculty Course Type Credits Prerequisites Semester
Dr. Shweta Sinha Deshpande Minor 4 Anthropology Minor 5

 Brief Overview 

Anthropology being the ‘Study of Mankind’ is essentially the understanding of what constitutes society in terms of identity, experiences with the environment and relations with other human beings.
According to Dr. P. Kottak, “humans are among the world’s most adaptable animals”, and this course aims at studying these adaptations across the many tribes, villages, cities through the snowy landscapes of Greenland to the burning deserts of Sahara or from the misty forests of the Amazon to the buzzing streets of New York or Bombay (Mumbai). Man has prospered in all these environments for at least a million years if not more giving rise to institutions which in essence are very similar but are different in practice.
The course attempts to bring forth the core institutions of human societies and aims to understand why we do what we do and in essence it is the study of people as social and cultural beings.
Every phenomenon has more than one player and participant and this course will guide the students towards this imperative understanding. It enables them to question and challenge the often deeply rooted understandings of people and cultures through multiple and holistic perspective. Through the course the students are introduced to the unequal power dynamics that play the most important role in today’s globalised world.
In order to comprehend the varied phenomenon that constitute or society today and have been the building blocks for thousands of years, this paper will spread over semester 5 & 6 through essential theories, essentially similar yet contrastingly diverse construction of social systems and case studies from around the world that enforce all the concepts outlined above. 

 Course Objectives 

  • The course in its duration will relate societies often different from our own and in the process will inculcate a plurality in understanding of ideas both economic and political creating the social matrix which institutionalizes rituals and customs among the people of the globe.
  • This paper will help students relate the interdependent reality of people and their society against the ‘individuality’ of contemporary cultural ideology.
  • Discover and relate the cultural diversity that exists around the globe with significant insight into the cultural context.
  • Interpret the underpinnings of the ethnographic methods of field-based research and description and its importance in understanding people and society along with related theoretical frameworks
  • Since anthropology studies Mankind, one of its contributions to the real world is its problem solving ability in all sectors including corporate and industry. Socio-cultural anthropology will employ the students into solving problems which are global in nature (education, healthcare etc) and yet culture specific since the subject itself agrees on human adaptation based on its environment

 Teaching Methodology 

  • The interactive and discussion mode of teaching is aimed at a thorough comprehension and application of the concepts within the course
  • The study of socio-cultural anthropology will forge critical reasoning and analytical skills with the help of case studies from across cultures.
  • Audio-visual aids are incorporated to reinforce concepts
  • Reading and discussion of research papers / book chapters are incorporated within the class structure so as to reinforce and ensure that students are abreast with literature n the subject
  • Self-study forms a part of the teaching pedagogy.


Students are expected to –

  • Complete all required reading for each scheduled class as per the course outline,
  • Actively participate in class activities and discussions, and
  • Complete all evaluative processes for successful course completion!