The Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Williams aims to help students achieve an integrated understanding of biography, history, culture, and social structure. Both disciplines introduce students to classical and contemporary theories that illuminate the contours and contradictions of social experience.
Anthropology explores the full range of human experience by introducing students to the study of tribal and peasant societies, especially those on the periphery of the West, as well as to the cultural complexities of stratified, industrial societies such as our own. Integrated with the study of specific peoples is an examination of the various analytical schemes anthropologists have developed to understand them. Courses offered in the department represent two of Anthropology’s major subfields: sociocultural anthropology—that is, the comparative study of human social life, institutions, and beliefs—and archaeology, the study of the origins and lifeways of prehistoric peoples.
Sociology studies the social and institutional intricacies of modern industrial and post-industrial societies and the social psychological dilemmas facing the individual in our epoch. Sociology courses introduce students to classical and contemporary social thought, to the systematic analysis of social institutions and social interaction, and to the social analysis of modern culture. The Sociology major at Williams emphasizes the humanistic tradition of sociology, stressing qualitative approaches. More information can be found on the Anthropology and Sociology website.