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Anthropologists can be found working at various levels of government. They may be directly involved in planning and policy-making activities, obtaining jobs in government funding bodies, or senior administrative roles. Equally, they may be part of advisory or lobbying groups that indirectly inform government practice, in grass-roots advocacy, or in agencies responsible for carrying out government activities in public services such as health, welfare, housing or education. Almost every aspect of government decision-making benefits from a deep understanding of the social and cultural dynamics of the actors involved. Anthropologists employed in government often take part in interdisciplinary projects where they work alongside other social scientists, environmentalists, educators and government officials. In these situations, anthropologists need to become skilled in communicating anthropological knowledge and insight to non-specialists, and demonstrating how anthropology can transcend disciplinary boundaries.

Most jobs within the government sector demanding a certain level of responsibility and management will require entrants to have specialist knowledge and skills gained from a combination of a postgraduate degree and previous work experience, or advanced training. Many government-funded projects and organisations within the UK are devoted to helping young people gain experience in the sector. Students can become youth ambassadors, take part in political campaigns and rallies, or volunteer in human resource services. Whether you are a student at secondary school or university, or no longer a student, there are many ways you can become involved.

Recommended Resources

Visit our Political Anthropology webpage

General – provides resources for anthropology and advice on how to apply your anthropology degree – programme for graduates

Professional Organisations, Associations, and Groups

British Council– the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

British Youth Council – the BYC is an organisation of young people for young people across the UK who provide opportunities for the ideas of the young to be heard.

The Cabinet Office – The Cabinet Office sits at the very centre of government and, together with the Treasury, provides the ‘head office’ of government.

Economic and Social Research Council – The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s leading agency for research funding and training in economic and social sciences.

Ministry of Defence – is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of national defence policy, and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces

National Social Marketing Centre – a strategic partnership between the Department of Health in England and Consumer Focus (formerly the National Consumer Council).


Career Opportunities in Politics, Government, and Activism
Contrada, J. (Facts on File, 2003)


The British Youth Council provides films about their youth campaigns and activities.


Civil Service Beta – a large public-sector employer.

Government Jobs Direct – provides direct links to vacancies pages on the websites of UK government and publicly-funded organisations. 

The Government Job – government & public sector specialist job site.

Disclaimer: The above information is provided for information and guidance only. It should not be interpreted as endorsement or otherwise by the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) for any external institution listed.  Furthermore, the RAI accepts no responsibility for material created by external parties or the content of external websites.