Jump to content

SOP Mistake: "Sociocultural" instead of "Social"

Recommended Posts

I submitted my application to Harvard just in time for the December 15 deadline, and I reviewed my application materials after hitting the dreaded "Submit" button. To my horror, I realized that I had written "Sociocultural Anthropology" in my statement of purpose instead of "Social Anthropology," which is what Harvard offers. I had checked the same document over and over again before uploading it, but as luck would have it, it was too late when I realized my mistake. 

Do you think I should I write to the DGS to "correct" this mistake or at least to save face by apologizing for it and explaining that I am aware of the differences between "social" and "cultural" and "sociocultural" in terms of academic tradition? Or am I just obsessing about this detail that they probably won't notice or care about?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It really shouldn't make a difference.  Referring to the discipline as social anthropology usually means you follow the older British school of anthropology, i.e. Radcliffe-Brown, Bronislaw Malinowski, W.H.R River, A.C. Haddon - basically structural functionalism with a later move towards the ideas of Gluckman's Manchester School.  To be honest, a lot of programs consider the terms interchangeable.  Basically, social anthropology has historically sought to isolate particular social systems which determine kinship, interpersonal relations, economy, law, etc.  On the other hand, cultural anthropology is more concerned with the ways in which broader cultural milieu affect individual subjectivities.  Cultural anthropology has basically sought to outline the customs and institutions of a culture, and in so doing attempt to dig into what it means to be an individual in a given culture. So, using the term sociocultural anthropology typically includes a bit of both social and cultural anthropology, in that it includes a more rounded view of culture which brings the so-called "culture concept" outside academia while remaining valid for ethnological study.  So, starting at the beginning of the 20th century, we see a move towards sociocultural anthropology spearheaded by Franz Boas, Edward Sapir, Marcel Mauss (influenced by Durkheim), Ruth Benedict, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B DuBois, Saussure, etc. 

Basically, unless you somehow manage to hop into a time machine that transports you to the 1930s, you shouldn't worry about it.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.