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Sociocultural anthropology is a portmanteau used to refer to social anthropology and cultural anthropology together. Some universities, such as Boston University and New York University, link them together into one major of study.
The rubric cultural anthropology is generally applied to ethnographic works that are holistic in spirit, oriented to the ways in which culture affects individual experience, or aim to provide a rounded view of the knowledge, customs, and institutions of a people. Social anthropology is a term applied to ethnographic works that attempt to isolate a particular system of social relations such as those that comprise domestic life, economy, law, politics, or religion, give analytical priority to the organizational bases of social life, and attend to cultural phenomena as somewhat secondary to the main issues of social scientific inquiry.
Sociocultural anthropology, which we understand to include linguistic anthropology, is concerned with the problem of difference and similarity within and between human populations. The discipline arose concomitantly with the expansion of European colonial empires, and its practices and theories have been questioned and reformulated along with processes of decolonization. Such issues have re-emerged as transnational processes have challenged the centrality of the nation-state to theorizations about culture and power. New challenges have emerged as public debates about multiculturalism, and the increasing use of the culture concept outside of the academy and among peoples studied by anthropology. These are not "business-as-usual" times in the academy, in anthropology, or in the world, if ever there were such times.
Questions about cultural processes and theorizing about "human nature" escape the boundaries of anthropology as a discipline. The major paradigms framing cultural difference and human universals are profoundly contested; migrations, political collapses and social reorganizations transform the context in which the production of cultural meanings and theories of culture have been embedded and reproduced. For many of us, this is a moment in which it is necessary to take up the sort of broad challenges with which our disciplinary predecessors struggled - to redefine the field of inquiry and research in relation to debates that have enormous significance in our own lives and those of the people we study.