What does applied research in anthropology seek to do?
The “applied” nomenclature in a topic means that “theory” is “applied” to a real-life question. Since Anthropology is the study of Man (anthros), the theories put forward by all the social scientists and physical historians are to be applied to real human problems. For example, the “theories” of Claude Levi-Strauss, when “applied” to the ethical questions of cloning or medical innovation, will allow the scientist to justify or to question such practices, based on the assumption of his theory that the “cooked” Anthros is an improvement over the “raw” Anthros – in other words, that Man’s technological progress is anthropologically “good” for Homo Sapiens as a species, since he theorizes that the discovery and control of fire (an archetypal example of technological progress) advanced the species as a whole. When an anthropologist applies theory to a current problem that he/she is trying to solve, he/she is engaging in applied anthropology. Another example might be the anthropological theory of gender differentiation (men hunted, women gathered) in researching modern employment habits and practices.