What do Anthropologists do?

Research, evaluate, and establish public policy concerning the origins of humans; their physical, social, linguistic, and cultural development; and their behavior, as well as the cultures, organizations, and institutions they have created.

  • Conduct participatory action research in communities and organizations to assess how work is done and to design work systems, technologies, and environments.
  • Study archival collections of primary historical sources to help explain the origins and development of cultural patterns.
  • Participate in forensic activities, such as tooth and bone structure identification, in conjunction with police departments and pathologists.
  • Formulate general rules that describe and predict the development and behavior of cultures and social institutions.
  • Apply systematic sampling techniques to ensure the accuracy, completeness, precision, and representativeness of individuals selected for sample surveys.
  • Advise government agencies, private organizations, and communities regarding proposed programs, plans, and policies and their potential impacts on cultural institutions, organizations, and communities.
  • Teach and mentor undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology.
  • Build geographic information systems (GIS) to record, analyze, and cartographically represent the distribution of languages, cultural and natural resources, land use, and settlement patterns of specific populations.
  • Identify culturally specific beliefs and practices affecting health status and access to services for distinct populations and communities, in collaboration with medical and public health officials.
  • Collect information and make judgments through observation, interviews, and the review of documents.
  • Plan and direct research to characterize and compare the economic, demographic, health care, social, political, linguistic, and religious institutions of distinct cultural groups, communities, and organizations.
  • Construct and test data collection methods.
  • Develop intervention procedures, using techniques such as individual and focus group interviews, consultations, and participant observation of social interaction.
  • Create data records for use in describing and analyzing social patterns and processes, using photography, videography, and audio recordings.
  • Build and use text-based database management systems to support the analysis of detailed firsthand observational records or "field notes."
  • Gather and analyze artifacts and skeletal remains to increase knowledge of ancient cultures.
  • Identify key individual cultural collaborators, using reputational and positional selection techniques.
  • Enhance the cultural sensitivity of elementary and secondary curricula and classroom interactions in collaboration with educators and teachers.
  • Train others in the application of ethnographic research methods to solve problems in organizational effectiveness, communications, technology development, policy making, and program planning.
  • Write about and present research findings for a variety of specialized and general audiences.
  • Collaborate with economic development planners to decide on the implementation of proposed development policies, plans, and programs based on culturally institutionalized barriers and facilitating circumstances.
  • Organize public exhibits and displays to promote public awareness of diverse and distinctive cultural traditions.
  • Examine museum collections of hominid fossils to classify anatomical and physiological variations and to determine how they fit into evolutionary theory.
  • Observe the production, distribution, and consumption of food to identify and mitigate threats to food security.
  • Explain the origins and physical, social, or cultural development of humans, including physical attributes, cultural traditions, beliefs, languages, resource management practices, and settlement patterns.
  • Apply traditional ecological knowledge and assessments of culturally distinctive land and resource management institutions to assist in the resolution of conflicts over habitat protection and resource enhancement.
  • Observe and measure bodily variations and physical attributes of different human groups.
  • Analyze and characterize user experiences and institutional settings to assist consumer product developers, technology developers, and software engineers with the design of innovative products and services.

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