Anthropology and Social Work Essay

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Anthropology and Social Work Anthropologists like myself try to figure out why present day humans are the way they are. Meredith F. Small Female Choices Who are we? How old is the human species? Where did we come from? What do we believe and why? Is our own culture the epitome of civilization? What is reality? How have we arrived at a position where destroying the earth doesn't bother us very much? These, and many, many more are the questions that drive anthropologists to study human beings and our interactions. In fact, the presence of a driving question is the seed that creates anthropologists, as we will soon see. Anthropology is the study of humanity. As one might suspect, given the scope of the questions in the previous paragraph,…show more content…
It is quite startling (and exhilarating) to realize that not all people view reality the same way we do, and the only way to fully understand another's reality is to live it. As Spradley so eloquently puts it: Ethnography offers all of us the chance to step outside our narrow cultural backgrounds, to set aside our socially inherited ethnocentrism, if only for a brief period, and to apprehend the world from the viewpoint of other human beings who live by different meaning systems. (pg. v) There are good reasons to go to all this trouble to learn about different cultures other than for the sake of pure knowledge. By studying other cultures, we can very possibly create innovative solutions to problems that plague our own culture­­not the least of which is our intense feelings of separation. David Mayberry Lewis (in his film for the PBS Millennium series entitled "Inventing Reality") speaks of the Australian aborigines belief that everything in the universe is spiritually connected, which he compares to Western cultural beliefs: Our way is to objectify reality­ define it in cut and dried terms­ and in so doing we distance ourselves from everything else in the universe. It is a dangerous and sad position. The danger is being certain. We've all seen the cruelty that proceeds from certainty. Dogma. The sadness is losing our sense of being connected to
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