Anthropology and Sociology

Understanding people and the societies in which they live and work

Ever wondered why the world is the way it is? The joint discipline of Anthropology and Sociology offers ways of understanding the complex social dimensions of challenges the world is facing. It examines the human experience and social relationships comparatively across cultures, places and time.

Our course provides valuable skills for living and working in a globalising and interconnected world by exposing students to different systems of beliefs, values and practices found among the world's cultures. But it’s not just about other cultures – we focus on understanding Australian society and its relationship to the world.

At a personal level, it offers a perspective on challenges in your everyday life, and encourages you to question your taken-for-granted beliefs. We teach skills in critical thinking, careful observation and record-keeping, oral, visual and written expression, and research skills such as interviewing.

Graduates pursue careers in the public service, with non-government organisations (such as those working with migrants, Indigenous peoples, young people and environmental groups), social welfare, community development locally and internationally, and the broader health field. As a graduate, you may proceed to specialised training in professions (law, psychology, education, strategic communication), or develop your skills as a social researcher or policy maker in the Master of Social Research Methods or Master of Public Policy.

Our staff are all active social researchers, working on a wide range of projects in the areas of migration, social inclusion and inequality, health, the environment, education, Indigenous knowledges, religion, ageing and more. We work within Australia and internationally, including Europe, Africa, Asia and extending into the Pacific and Antarctic, using a range of methods. The lead for the Discipline of Anthropology and Sociology is Associate Professor Dr Richard Vokes

Research strengths

Education and Social Policy
Education and social policy cut to the heart of how humans interact with, and are shaped by, social services relating to areas such as learning, welfare and wellbeing. Research considers a variety of issues and phenomena, ranging from how schools are governed or how welfare programs are implemented, through to broader concerns about inequality, globalisation and the changing role of governments in the lives of citizens.
Environmental Conflicts
Environmental disputes pose problems for local people and governments regarding environmental management and protection, species conservation, sustainable resource use, and sociocultural resilience, as well as relating to global environmental and biosecurity crises. Our research considers environmental conflicts and property contestations between Indigenous peoples and others who have different perspectives on resource use and different attachments to place in Australia and overseas.
Gender and Class
Central to our work is the important role and enormous diversity across cultures and regions of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class, age and generation, and their impact on social life, equity and wellbeing. We explore the centrality of kinship, family and community as both profoundly important and emancipatory as well as potentially damaging and constraining influences on people, with an emphasis on the richness and variety of cultural beliefs and practices in a range of ethnographic settings.
Media, Visual Anthropology, Technology and Society
Our research focuses predominantly on the relationships between people and their visual, material and media artefacts, including social media, art, photography, film and television, museum collections and more. We consider creativity, aesthetics, representations, the social uses and effects of new media technologies, property and its transformations, and more.
Migration, Mobilities and Transnationalism
We live in a world characterised by mobility. People travel for migration or tourism, moving permanently or temporarily, individually or with families, by choice or through force. The corollary is immobility, manifest in border controls or social exclusion. We ask what are the patterns of movement, what are the reasons behind movement, and what are the effects of movement, at both the macro and micro levels. What is the role of the nation-state in generating belonging and exclusion, how are racism and anti-racism generated and perpetuated, and how is mobility implicated in processes of transformation at the national and global levels?
Social and Political Development
Our research on development covers issues such as the impacts of social media use in rural areas, the successes and failures of participatory approaches to development, impacts of protected areas on Indigenous and stateless peoples, and the interaction of local agricultural initiatives with government regulatory regimes.

Project highlights

Ageing and new media

Ageing and New Media is a collaborative research project that examines how support networks for older people are affected by their mobility and the dispersal of their family, friends and care services.

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Australian, transnational and postnational identities: affective aspects of social inclusion

This Future Fellowship seeks to understand how Australians see themselves, particularly in terms of Australian, transnational and postnational identities.

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Associate Professor/Future Fellow Farida Fozdar 
Food security and the governance of local knowledge in agriculture in India and Indonesia

With partner universities Newcastle, Monash, Indonesia and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, this project investigates how farmers are engaging in innovations such as breeding their own seeds in the context of coping with climate change and adjusting to ever more intrusive regulatory regimens from the governments of India and Indonesia.


Dr Gregory Accaioli
Discipline Chair – Anthropology and Sociology 

National Schooling Reform and the Reshaping of Australian Federalism

This Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award project examines the evolving landscape of national schooling reform.

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Senior Lecturer Dr Glenn Savage

Youth Mobilities, Aspirations and Pathways

The Youth Mobilities, Aspirations and Pathways Australian Research Council Discovery project in partnership with Deakin University and Western Sydney University examines transnational mobility amongst young people moving both in and out of Australia.

Chief investigators

Professor Loretta Baldassar, Anita Harris (Research Professor in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne) and Shanthi Robertson (Senior Research Fellow in migration studies and globalisation at the Institute of Culture and Society at Western Sydney University) are the chief investigators on the YMAP Project, funded by the Australian Research Council (2017–2022).

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Anthropological Forum

Founded in 1963, Anthropological Forum seeks to examine and advance disciplinary approaches in its publication of articles from a variety of anthropological and sociological perspectives, ranging from the established to the experimental.

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Our courses

Contact the School of Social Sciences

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Arts and Law Student Office, open weekdays 8.30am to 4.30pm

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Weekdays 8.30am -4.30pm