Dalhousie's Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology offers a unique program of research and teaching that is interdisciplinary, comparative, and critically engaged. We draw on the strengths of our two disciplines – sociology and social anthropology – by recognizing their distinct intellectual and methodological heritages, while emphasizing how they complement each other.
Sociology and Social Anthropology provide a broad and rigorous academic training, which develops knowledge and research skills that can be translated to the job market, future studies, and everyday life.
Sociology investigates social processes that are fundamental to how society works, but often invisible and misunderstood. It focuses on how relationships among people shape their experiences. It unpacks deterministic and egocentric understandings in order to offer better accounts of a wide range of pressing social issues, such as the environment, health, crime, inequality, immigration, transnationalism, identity, and social change. Sociology uses a wide range of evidence including interviews, historical sources, and even statistics. Sociological perspectives can be applied to multiple social contexts and scales, from the world all the way down to everyday interactions. Because the discipline challenges commonly held assumptions, sociologists are often on the cutting edge of contemporary debates.
Social Anthropology is unique in its global and comparative approach to cultural diversity in the contemporary world. Anthropology focuses on how people and groups shape and are shaped by broad forces of history, cultural symbols and beliefs, and social and political structures. We draw on the rich international anthropological heritage while also actively encouraging a continuous renewal of that tradition, its thoughts and practices. Often living with the communities of people studied for an extended period of time, anthropologists generate first-hand accounts of everyday life to see the world through their eyes. Along the way we discover both vast differences and deep similarities across the varied human experience. Thus, the perspectives anthropologists gain through long-term fieldwork prepare us to engage with people different from ourselves in this increasingly globalized world. Social Anthropology shows that another world and way of life is not only possible, but already exists.