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Chapter 3

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University of Guelph
ANTH 1150
Hank Davis

Stephanie Oliveira 1 Chapter 3: Doing Anthropology  Despite globalization, the cultural diversity under anthropological scrutiny right now may be as great as ever before, because the anthropological universe has expanded to modern nations.  Anthropology originated in non-Western, nonindustrial societies. Its research techniques were developed to deal with small populations. Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology.  Early studies of sociology, such as Emile Durkheim, were among the founders of both sociology and anthropology. Durkheim studied the religions of Native Australians as well as mass phenomena, such as suicide rates, in modern nations.  Difference between sociology and anthropology? Sociologists focused on the industrial west; anthropologists, on nonindustrial societies.  Traditional ethnographers studied small, non-literate populations and relied on ethnographic methods appropriate to that context. Ethnography: Anthropology’s Distinctive Strategy  Early ethnographers lived in small-scale, relatively isolated societies with simple technologies and economies.  Ethnography emerged as a research strategy in societies with greater cultural uniformity and less social differentiation than are found in large, modern nations.  Traditionally, ethnographers have tried to understand the whole of a particular culture. To pursue this goal, ethnographers adopt a free-ranging strategy for gathering information.  Ethnography provides a foundation for generalizations about human behavior and social life. Ethnographic Techniques  Direct, firsthand observation of behavior.  Conversation with varying degrees of formality  The genealogical method  Detailed work with key consultants, or informants, about particular areas of community life.  In-Depth interviewing  Discovery of local beliefs and perceptions  Problem-oriented research of many sorts  Longitudinal research  Team research  Multi-sited research that studies the various sites and systems in which people participate. Observation and Participant Observation  Staying a bit more than a year in the field allows the ethnographer to repeat the season of his or her arrival, when certain events and processes may have been missed because of initial unfamiliarity and culture shock.  Many ethnographers record their impressions in a personal diary so that later it will be easier to point out some of the basic aspects of cultural diversity.  These patterns are part of what Bronislaw Malinowski called “the imponderabilia of native life and of typical behavior.” These features of culture are so fundamental that natives take them for granted.  Ethnographers strive to establish rapport, a good, friendly working relationship based on personal contact, with their hosts.  Participant Observation- taking part in a community life as we study it. Conversation, Interviewing and Interview Schedules.  Ethnographers constantly talk to people and ask questions.  Stages of in learning a field language: 1. Naming phase—asking name after name of the objects around us. 2. Later, we are able to pose more complex questions and understand replies. 3. We eventually become able to comprehend rapid-fire public discussions and group conversations.  Survey research involves sampling.  Interview Schedule- the ethnographer talks face-to-face with people, asks questions, and writes down the answers.  Only gives a basis for assessing patterns and exceptions in village life. The Genealogical Method  Is a well-established ethnographic technique. Early ethnographers developed notation and symbols to deal with kinship, descent, and marriage. Genealogy is a prominent building block in the social organization of nonindustrial societies.  In such societies, anthropologists need to collect genealogical data to understand current social relations and to reconstruct history. Key Cultural Consultants  Every community has people who by accident, experience, talent or training can provide the most complete or useful information about particular aspects of life. These people are Key consultants. Life Histories.  Anthropologists develop likes and dislikes in the field as we do at home. Often, when we find someone unusually interesting, we collect his or her life history.  This provides a more intimate and personal cultural portrait than would be possible otherwise. Stephanie Oliveira 3 Chapter 3: Doing Anthropology  Many ethnographers include the collection of life histories as an important part of they research strategy. Local Beliefs and Perceptions, and the Ethnographer’s.  One goal of ethnography is to discover local views, beliefs, and perceptions.  In the field, ethnographers typically combine two research strategies, the emic and the etic.  An Emic approach investigates how local people think.  The term Cultural consultant, refers to individuals the ethnographer gets to know in the field, the people who teach him or her about their culture, who provide the emic perspective  The etic approach shifts the focus from local observations, categories, explanations, and interpretations to those of the anthropologist. This approach realizes that members of a culture often are too involved in what they are doing to interpret their cultures impartially.  Operating etically, the ethnographer emphasizes what he/she notices and considers important. The Evolution of Ethnography  Bronislaw Malinowski is the founder of ethnography. Malinowski did salvage ethnography—the belief that the ethnographer’s job is to study and record cultural diversity threatened by westernization.  Early ethnographic accounts were similar to earlier traveller and explorer accounts in describing the writers discovery of unknown people and places.  The style that dominated classic ethnographies was ethnographic realism. The writer’s goal was to present accurate, objective, scientific account of a different way of life.  Malinowski’s ethnographies were guided by the assumption that aspects of culture are linked and intertwined.  Today’s ethnographies tend to be less inclusive and holistic, focusing on particular topics, such as kinship and religion.  According to Malinowski, a primary task fo the ethnographer is to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to r
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