Cultural anthropology is the study of the culture and social structure of a community or society. Cultural anthropology emphasizes the understanding of the total configuration and interrelationships of cultural traits, complexes and social relationships in a particular geographic environment and historical context. Thus it is concerned with the influence of geographic and historical as well as social and psychological factors in the analysis of the development of a culture, its present characteristics and the change it is undergoing.
Many investigations of cultural anthropologists have been studies of non literate and non western societies; however in recent years there has been a tendency to extend the approach of cultural anthropology to the study of modern western society. Cultural anthropology is generally considered synonymous with social anthropology and ethnology. Social anthropology and cultural anthropology are inter-linked and intertwined. Social anthropology is concerned with the manner in which people associate and group themselves while cultural anthropology is concerned with the habits and customs of the people. The concept of society is main the minds of social anthropologists and the concept of culture is crucial to the cultural anthropologists.
The most elementary form of social grouping is the family. Social anthropologists consider and discuss the concept of family as the cornerstone of human society. The two kinds of human relationships that lay the foundation for the family are birth and marriage. The principles of descent and alliance constitutes kinship are studied under socio-cultural anthropology. Each society and culture has its own unique notion of marriage.
That is why the problems of unique notion of marriage are discussed by the socio-cultural anthropologists. The marriage forms and alliance pattern of each society are studied and also compared with those of others. In the context of kinship the terminology used to refer and address a person, the behavioral patterns between different relatives as well as rights and obligations enjoined in the relationships between relatives also become important as they are all culturally determined.