Anthropology deals with racial divisions of man, his physical character, his geographic division, his environmental and social relations, and his cultural development.
It is a science which studies mankind in relation to physical, social, and cultural development.
The contribution of Anthropology to Political Science is considerable, and modern researches in the racial division, habits, customs, and organisations of primitive man help us to know the real origin of the State and the development of various political institutions. The political behaviour of man is greatly influenced by his racial origin and the environments in which he lives.
Two common sayings illustrate the point: there is something runs in the blood of man, and, man is the shuttlecock of his environments. The theory of nationalism as preached by Hitler and his dogma of superiority of the Aryan race solve many a knotty problem of recent political thought. Finally, race unity is one of the strongest bonds of nationality, and geographic unity is another important factor which fosters the sentiment of nationality.
We seek the help of Anthropology to prove that early society was communal in character, that is, its basis was the group rather than the individual, whom we now accept as the unit of our society.
Anthropology also tells us that in early stages of the development of society, temporary marriage was the rule rather than the exception. But such a condition of society could not last for long and the need for regulating marriage was felt. With the regulation of marriage, civilisation advanced and people permanently settled down as territorial units paving the way for the emergence of the State.
Thus, Anthropology greatly helps the study of Political Science. Without a good knowledge of early societies, their laws, customs, manners and modes of government, we cannot understand accurately the modem institutions and the political behaviour of the people.
Hitherto Anthropology was regarded as applying wholly or mainly to primitive society. But its scope is now widening and includes all types of society. “Knowledge of social anthropology,” says Robson, “is essential for the study or practice of colonial administration; and it is necessary also for several other special topics of political science, such as area studies, colour and racial conflicts, international organisations for assisting underdeveloped countries, immigration and emigration.”
Harold D. Lasswell approvingly cites C.D. Lerner and says that the links between students of folk society—the distinctive subject-matter of social anthropology and Political Science have been closer in recent years “as whirlwind modernization added to the turbulence of politics in Asia, Africa, South America, and many heretofore-isolated island communities.”
He is of the opinion that in future years, “the data of anthropology will be highly pertinent to the consideration of various problems that are likely to grow into large dimensions.”
Anthropology has an inexhaustible source of data on every sphere of man and his culture and Political Science, as Robson says, “will draw on various parts of this repository as problems gain in their urgency.”
During the last two decades voluminous literature has been published on the process of modernization of traditional societies of Asia and intricate tribal communities of Africa.
Almost all those countries which became sovereign States after World War II started their careers with democratic institutions, generally of the parliamentary type, but barring a few, all of them succumbed to some or other form of authoritarian regime or dictatorial rule, military or totalitarian.
Political Anthropology, which is now recognised as a fairly independent discipline, helps to solve the riddle of the failure of Western model of democratic institutions in these countries.
The traditional elements, attitudes, values, patterns of behaviour and leadership weigh very heavily in the developing countries as compared with the more rationalised developed nations of the West and, consequently.
The operational aspects of the democratic institutions can scarcely be understood in terms and manner familiar to the Western States. Bryce has aptly said that there are institutions which “like plants flourish only on their hillside and under their own sunshine.”