Anthropology studies individual cultures in time (archaeology) and across space (Ethnology). It is important to treat the culture holistically and respect its internal integrity. George P. Murdock held that it was important to compare cultures and to compare traits that universally appear across cultures.
The basic operation in the comparative method is an arrangement of social or cultural conditions observed among existing peoples into a series that is then taken to represent a process of evolution. This procedure has been used to depict the whole sweep of human history, a limited period of development, or the growth of a particular social or cultural element or group of elements. The method has been applied most commonly, perhaps, in a search for origins of specific cultural items.
- Culture and civilization
- Religion and magic
- Animism and animatism
- Primitive religion and world religion are studied.
At the economic level: the difference between a primitive economy and modern economy, between economics and Economic anthropology are studied. At the political level, differences regarding state and stateless political system and comparing the legal system of simple and complex societies are studied.
Thus from method point of view, Robin Fox has rightly remarked:- “Anthropology is comparative study of societies and cultures” However anthropology has outgrown from its traditional concern of showing similarities and differences or showing unity and diversity among human beings/societies. Now the goal of anthropology is to stress on unity among human being. The goal of anthropology as expressed by Franz Boas, pioneer of American anthropology: “Mankind is one, civilizations are many”. John Beattie in book “other culture” said people all over the world
are fundamentally alike.