Social and Cultural Anthropology

Social and cultural anthropology is the study of people and their behaviour in social and societal contexts. Social and cultural anthropology studies societies and social groups in terms of dynamics, changes, diversity and similarities with regard to all matters of social and cultural life, both material and symbolic. It deals with different subjects such as gender, family, health, law, politics, religion, economy, the environment, mobility, urban and rural development, etc.

With the qualitative research approach of ethnography, which involves participant observation and a holistic perspective, the discipline focuses on informal, social everyday relationships and long-term research for its analyses. Based on local populations, social and cultural anthropologists research social relationships within regional, national and global networks. With its comparative approach, social and cultural anthropology questions ethnocentric views where other lifestyles and people are described and evaluated solely from one's own perspective. It promotes discussion about sociocultural diversity.


Social and Cultural Anthropology as Major or Minor

Most universities have institutes that offer social and cultural anthropology as a separate subject at BA/MA/PhD as a major and a minor subject.

Social and cultural anthropology within interdisciplinary study programmes

At several universities, there are one or more chairs for the subject within interdisciplinary institutes.

Social and cultural anthropology summer schools and workshops in Switzerland

Various subject chairs, institutes and institutions also offer joint events such as summer schools on specific anthropological topics:

PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology in Switzerland

Education at PhD level occurs with Swiss-wide cooperation through the

Social and cultural anthropology at technical colleges

Social and cultural anthropology is also taught in modules within various study programmes at technical colleges in Switzerland though there are no independent study programmes on the subject. Anthropologists that teach and research at technical colleges deal among other things with the following subjects and areas: youth culture, winners and losers, Albania, social aspects of art, school social work, migration, offenders, addiction, integration, health, AIDS, death, chronic illness, discrimination, the concept of culture, intercultural activities, disability, public space, development work, tourism, sustainability, action anthropology and applied anthropology.

More information can be found on the individual study programmes at the technical colleges at: