The Role of Technology in the Field of Anthropology Free Essay

The Invaluable Use of Technology in Anthropological Research

  1. My Story

The following personal experience gave me a huge interest in anthropology. Once I entered a book-store in order to buy some book. I saw some book in the category “anthropology books”. When I started  to turn the leaves of that book I found much interesting information. For example, I found that it is possible to give explanation to various social patterns that are different in different cultures. Also, I found that archaeological studies give us an opportunity to explore material remains which can tell us more about past cultures. Moreover, I was interested in understanding the key factors that affect human health and well-being. The elderly man I met in the book-store was an anthropologist. He said, “I recommend to buy this book. You could learn more about human life.” I asked him, “Why do you say that?” I did not understand what he meant by saying I could learn more about human life. His answer was laconic but quite clear, “You could maintain an objective, scientific view of what is happening around you now. Is it not enough?”  That book encouraged me to study anthropology because I was highly motivated by the issues discussed in the book, many of which were closely linked to my personal life. When I came home and started to work on laptop, I found that technology helps to store, share, and interpret relevant data in order to draw conclusions on various anthropological issues. Hence, I became obsessed with technology that shapes anthropology.

  1. Introduction

Why I want to be an anthropologist? This question requires giving a clear and comprehensive explanation of the discipline, its areas or branches, and methods of study. The term anthropology can be defined as the study of human society in general and behaviours of individuals and groups of individuals related to the past and present in particular (Escobar 419). In fact, the study of anthropology allows learning more about the biological characteristics that shape human behaviours, such as physiology, genetics, nutrition, and human evolution, as well as the social characteristics, such as language, cultural development, political views, family relations, and religion. Human evolution stands for the complicated process of behavioural change that affects individuals, their culture, language, and religion. Physical anthropology is a branch of anthropology that explores the various biological and physiological characteristics of individuals and their development. Another branch of anthropology, namely archaeology, allows using a wide diversity of archaeological records like artifacts, architecture, biofacts, and cultural landscapes to investigate human activity of the past. Linguistic anthropology explains the effects of language on social life. Cultural anthropology (ethnology) contributes to the study of various social norms, beliefs, and cultural values established in human society. Applied anthropology allows using anthropological data, theoretical frameworks, and methods to resolve the identified social problems that affect human life. Due to cross-cultural research, it is possible to examine the scope of human behaviour and test hypotheses about human society in order to make certain improvement in the future (Escobar 420).

  1. Technology as a Tool of Anthropology

Technology plays a critical role in the field of anthropology because of the considerable impact of new technological innovations on communication in human society. Technology stands for the methods, systems, and devices that are designed through application of scientific knowledge and that are intended to be used for practical purposes. There are many different branches of technology, including aerospace technology, applied physics, agriculture, communication, computing, construction, design, electronics, energy technology, engineering, biotechnology, and a number of others that reflect the key activities of individuals in human society. According to researchers, “technology is nothing but a tool for humans to manipulate and use for human benefit” (Downey 12). Although individuals are separated from machines and technological devices, they are dependent on them in any field of study, including anthropology.

Actually, there is much evidence taken from academic studies that shows how technology is embedded in all areas of human activity. This fact means that technology is necessary for anthropological and archaeological research in today’s environment to ensure that the link between technological devices and individuals helps to draw relevant conclusions on the changes that occur in human society (Ingold 30). Researchers state that “computer, information and biological technologies are bringing about a fundamental transformation in the structure and meaning of modern society and culture” (Escobar 409). The fact that this form of transformation

is unavoidable means that  anthropological studies can explore the various factors that contribute to this process and that help to better understand “human societies from the vantage points of biology, language, history and culture” (Escobar 409). Due to cultural analysis, anthropologists can assess the benefits of  the use of new technologies in different cultural contexts and “suggest additional contexts and steps toward the articulation of an ‘anthropology of cyberculture’” (Escobar 409).

Also, technology is used to facilitate various processes that occur in the field of anthropology. Researchers believe that technology is necessary for successful completion of the assigned tasks that depend on information sharing. According to recent study, “cyber-anthropology is defined as a concept and a new field of study aimed at the analysis of person’s reciprocal relations with the computer-generated (CG) world evolved as a result of technological progress” (Libin & Libin 146). It becomes clear that the era of technological progress provides massive opportunities for transformation of the human race. The emergence of digital technology allows achieving success in the process of communication that is critical for human interaction. Currently, researchers found that “Digital beings such as virtual and embodied agents, although not a part of the natural human habitat, have become necessary elements of people’s surroundings and life conditions” (Libin & Libin 147). Due to human  engagement with technology, it is possible to enhance professional competence and  handle a number of issues that require individual approaches to achieve the established goals.   Hence, the individual’s competence is linked to the usage of new technological innovations.  It is important for any anthropologist to be prepared to use the proper knowledge about the latest scientific innovations to enhance the processes that affect his/her field of study.

  1. Critique of an anthropological article

The anthropological article selected for the analysis and interpretation is “Gender and Technology” by Francesca Bray published in Annual Review of Anthropology. The title of the article is clear and appropriate because the author is focused on these two concepts in her anthropological analysis. In this study, the researcher is interested in investigation of gender and technology issues. She suggests, “One fundamental way in which gender is expressed in any society is through technology” (Bray 38). The researcher considers that the division of technical skills between two genders that is practised in different fields of human activity contributes to shaping masculinities and femininities (Bray 38). The researcher’s key purpose is to explore existing forms of power in modern human society, placing emphasis on cultural anthropology. The purpose of the article is made clear in the introduction section. The researcher provides review of the key concepts and methods relevant to the field of feminist technology studies and the anthropology of technology. Special attention is paid to the analysis of the ideological and methodological differences between social and cultural studies of technology. The researcher explores the treatment of technology in two fields, namely the field of the cultural anthropology of modernity linked to globalization processes and the field of the anthropology of technoscience and material culture studies.

Actually, the author is authorised to write on the selected subject. Francesca Bray is  specialist in the field of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh, UK. She is interested in the analysis of gender issues that affect relationships between men and women. As an anthropologist, Bray believes that technology plays a critical role in establishing relations between genders because of the impact of power relations in human society. The author provides review of a large number of academic sources that discuss the issue of gender and technology in order to draw relevant conclusions. The structure of the article is clear and comprehensive. The author provides an abstract that can be characterized as specific and representative of the study. There are several sections in the study that help the author to differentiate her ideas and provides review of literature based on the established goals. The academic sources selected for analysis and interpretation are valid and relevant to the identified subject. The author has cited the pertinent sources in order to support her ideas and conclusions. She uses a number of feminist technology studies that has “developed in dialogue with the history and sociology of

technology, disciplines in which feminist critiques have played a central part in overturning grand narratives and developing new analytical models” (Bray 39).

Moreover, the author’s statements are clear. She places emphasis on co-production of technology and gender throng the application of feminist technology studies (FTS) developed by social anthropologists from  the Netherlands, the UK, Australia and Norway. Many of anthropologists argue that “in the modern world an effective engagement with technology is essential to feminist praxis, FTS strives to develop the theoretical and methodological tools to analyse technology and gender simultaneously in equal depth”(Bray 39). She has found that different anthropologists provide different views on the role of technology in their studies. For example, American cultural anthropologists view technology “as a context for, rather than a central part of, culture” (Bray 42). The author is based on observational and analytical methods used by researchers in their studies because they help to develop comprehensive theoretical frameworks, such as Actor Network theory, Modes of Production theory, and anthropology of ritual (Bray 42).

Also, the author’s style of writing is easy to understand. Bray gives a number of clear definitions of the terms used in the field of social anthropology in order to allow the reader to avoid any misunderstandings of the key concepts and theoretical assumptions. The style of writing is consistent with the academic writing requirements. Due to the use of heading and subheadings in her work, Bray strengthens the overall understanding of the content of the study.

The author gives an opportunity to assess the general idea of her study and make the proper conclusions based on the discussion presented in the study. In general, the article is worth reading and analysing because it discusses important issues that emerge in modern social anthropology.

  1. Analysis

The analysis of the anthropological article “Gender and Technology” by Francesca Bray allows drawing relevant conclusions on the role of technology in the various areas or branches of anthropology. It is critical for contemporary anthropologists to find the connection between technology and human society. It becomes clear that in the article written by a social anthropologist Bray, specific attention is given to the study of technology as an essential part of human society, especially in the context of the ongoing technological progress. The progression of technology affects human relations and contributes to considerable social changes.

As a matter of fact, in the various areas or branches of  anthropology, technology should be studied in relationship to the environment which provides certain conditions for technological innovations. There are many different theories that are related to the issues discussed in the article and that help to better understand the  link between technology and anthropology, the field of study that is focused on investigation of the various aspects of human societies and cultures and their evolution. Some of these theories include the theory of evolutionism, diffusionism theory, historical particularism, functionalism, culture and personality theories, the theory of structuralism, neo-evolutionism, cultural ecology, cultural materialism, post-modernist and feminist theories. These theoretical frameworks contribute to the ongoing development of anthropology as a discipline.

Actually, the current issues faced by anthropologists in today’s human society are multiple. These issues have direct relation to the gender issues discussed in Bray’s article “Gender and Technology” which can be found in Annual Review of Anthropology, a peer-reviewed academic journal that covers a wide range of significant developments in the areas of anthropology. It is clear that some anthropologists are focused on providing analysis of the usage of technologies by various cultures, others are concentrated on gender relations that are shaped by technology. The growth of globalization in modern society affects the way individuals consume new technologies that are developed with the goal of enhancing human life.

In fact, there is a need for considering the role of the learning experience provided by the analysis of this anthropological study. The use of the various theoretical frameworks and anthropological concepts discussed by Bray in her article allow having a better understanding of the key goals of anthropology as a discipline. The application of the proper approach to the study of human society depends on the skills and methods like communicating skills, analytical skills, the scientific method, qualitative social analysis, and reflective criticism. It is necessary to apply the appropriate theory and methodologies that are developed in the field of anthropology to resolve different social and cultural problems that emerge in the multicultural environment.

In general, it is possible to set the career goals based on the learning experience and personal priorities in the field of anthropology. These goals are the following: to assess the role of human diversity in human society, to develop a critical perspective on human society and explore the roles of individuals in the complicated global multicultural environment, to apply the proper theoretical frameworks and concepts in order to give explanation to various social and cultural events, human behaviours, beliefs, and values, and, finally, to the study human society through understanding of diversity of cultures.

  1. Recommendations

As anthropology is characterized as a field of study that consists of multiple, interconnected areas of study, which are intended to give explanation to the process of making up the ‘culture’ of a group of individuals, it is recommended to use technology effectively. It is critical to deal with a wide range of different realms of knowledge that has been developed by human societies and that reflects their actions, values, beliefs, and behaviours. Technology helps to handle this knowledge through the use of specific devices, systems, and methods. Researchers suggest that “anthropology has the instruments to analyse cultural changes and to understand the current process of globalisation and the effects created by information technology on different societies” (Combi 3).

Also, it is recommended to employ various techniques and methods that help to study different cultures and human societies, including participant observation, qualitative data collection, and others. As anthropology has been established as a discipline, there is a need for utilizing reliable academic sources that provide valid evidence and facts on the various issues relevant to the key branches of anthropology, namely socio-cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology, and archaeology.


Works Cited

Bray, Francesca. “Gender and Technology,” Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 36, 2007, pp. 37-53.

Combi, Mariella. “Cultures and Technology: An Analysis of Some of the Changes in Progress—Digital, Global and Local Culture” in Cultural Heriutage in Changing World, ed. by Borowiecki K., Forbes N., Fresa A. Springer. 2016.

Downey, Gary Lee. The Machine in Me: An Anthropologist Sits among Computer Engineers. London & New York: Routledge. 1998.

Escobar, Arturo. “Anthropology and the future: New technologies and the reinvention of culture” Futures, vol. 27, no. 4, 1995, pp. 409-421.

Ingold, Tim. “Beyond Art and Technology: The Anthropology of Skill” In Anthropological Perspectives on Technology. ed. by Michael B. Schiffer. UNM Press, 2001.

Libin, A. & Libin, E. “Cyber-anthropology: a new study on human and technological co-evolution” Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, vol. 118, 2005, pp. 146-155.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: November 27, 2021] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]
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