Research Topics for Anthropology

Anthropologists look for both similarities and differences between cultural groups.

Independent research in anthropology can be exciting. Anthropology, the study of human cultural development, covers a variety of topics -- including biology, history, sociology and psychology. There is a growing tendency in academia to break down the barriers between the social science disciplines. Many anthropological research projects use methods borrowed from other social sciences. You can ground your research in a specific inquiry to avoid getting overwhelmed by the scope of your project.

1 Ethnographic Topics

Ethnographic anthropology topics involve total immersion into a different culture for the purpose of gathering primary research. The ethnographic form became popular after the 1928 publication of Margaret Mead's "Coming of Age in Samoa." Mead's work demonstrated the immense value of ethnographic study. Examples of ethnographic anthropology topics are: "Gender Differences in the Village of Kumasi" or "Religious Diversity in Istanbul." If you value learning how individuals from different human communities interact, choose an ethnographic anthropology research project.

2 Cross-Cultural Topics

Compare two or more cultural practices with a cross-cultural anthropology research topic. Topics like "Concepts of Human Rights in China and the United States," or "Similarities and Differences between German and American Hip-hop" allow for illuminating comparative study. You'll learn a lot about both cultures and gain a sense of both the universal and particular aspects of human cultural development. Cross-cultural topics don't have to include your own culture. You can research the immigration patterns of two South American cities or examine the role of agriculture on social relationships in three Egyptian towns. Discovering similarities, differences and connections is most important.

3 American Subculture Topics

American subculture topics give you the opportunity to explore small worlds in your own cultural backyard. Ever wonder about the night life of Central Park in Manhattan, or the daily lives of people in traveling circuses and carnivals? Examine the particulars of an American subculture for your next anthropology research project. These topics usually involve some travel and ethnography. For example, to study the American "Star Trek fan" subculture, you'll have to at least visit a few conventions and specialty shops.

4 Trending Topics

Trending topics attempt to capture changes in the society as they happen. These topics cover the role of changing technologies in our daily lives. How do hand-held book reading devices change the experience of reading? How have smart phones changed our concepts of mobile technology? Trending topics also cover key historical moments as they happen. Many anthropologists conducted original research before, during and shortly after the election of President Barack Obama to learn more about the cultural shift represented by the election of America's first African-American president.

Jessica Pope has been a freelance writer since 2001. Her areas of expertise include relationships, education and social psychology. She has published numerous K-12 curriculum development books as well as "Mending Your Marriage," a Christian marriage counseling ebook. Jessica earned her Bachelor of Arts at Swarthmore College and is currently pursuing graduate studies.