Skip Nav

Cultural Anthropology/Anthropological Methods

See a Problem?

❶Some anthropologists have taken this method to the extreme, Margaret Wilson, for example, wrote her book 'Dance Lest We all Fall Down' in a reflexive biographical manner; this accounted for her inability to fully integrate into Brazilian society. These cultures do not evolve from one another but evolved separately from each other into other cultures.

Navigation menu




They would then create wild theories based on these accounts. This led to a high degree of bias against these cultures, more so than firsthand research, and were not scientific in the way Anthropology is today. These biases turned into stereotypes which are still prevalent today. This form of research drove much of the colonial primitive culture narrative and necessitated the adaptation of Ethnography. Ethnography, or the immersive method of case study research, has to lead to the dispelling of rumor and a much deeper understanding of cultures through great effort.

To begin, he clearly states his bias, being a male researcher and dealing primarily with the males of that society due to a highly gendered culture found there.

He explains with great care that he is not searching for what men "do" but what they "say and do to be men. He had limitations both being an outsider and being male, only being able to see how one-half of these people portrayed their culture and even then through the lens of an outsider with his own biases, stated as clearly as possible within the paper.

This is the value of Ethnography, it allows researchers to further understand their research while remaining as unbiased as possible, highlighting weaknesses and need for further research from people of different genders and backgrounds.

An Ethnographic Analogy is a method for inferring the use or meaning of an ancient site or artifact based on observations and accounts of its use by living people. We can infer the use of an ancient tool by seeing how similar-looking tools are used in existing or recent societies. By analogy we can hypothesize the same use for the old tool.

In anthropology there are several types of fieldwork methods that are used while conducting research. Below we will go more into depth with several fieldwork methods that are used. The observational method is viewed as the least invasive method where the anthropologist minimally integrates themselves into the society they are studying and gathers data through verbal communication while attempting to remain non-intrusive of the culture.

This group of methods focuses on community interaction through language. It usually entails many open ended interviews with participants who are members of a group being studied. The researcher strives to learn as much as they can about the history of the community as well as the individuals within it in order to gain a full understanding of how their culture functions.

Interviews can take place individually or with focus groups within the community based on age, status, gender, and other factors that contribute to differences within the community. This type of research often strives to create an open dialogue, called a dialectic, in which information flows back and forth between researcher and subject. Think of this situation as a conversation between two people about homework or an upcoming exam. This dialectic poses a challenge to the objectivity of socially produced data.

The challenge is dealt with through reflection on the inter-subjective creation of meaning. This leads anthropologists to value reflexive abilities in their ethnographic writing. Because many anthropologists also hope to help the communities they work with to make change on their own terms within the confines of their own culture, in some cases objectivity is abandoned in favor of community based activism and social change.

Participant observation is a method for anthropological Fieldwork, used to collect data such that the anthropologist must create an intimate relationship between themselves and the culture studied. This method requires that an anthropologist participate in a social event that is part of a specific culture. This includes, but is not limited to, observing members of a culture by taking notes, eating the food that is provided, and participating in festivities.

The goal of participant observation is to be involved in the culture like a member of that society, all while observing and studying the culture. An example of participation observation would be if an anthropologist went to a Native American Tribal gathering and took notes on the energy and traditions they were being shown.

This anthropologist could participate in things like face painting or songs, and eat the food that the Natives eat. The information gathered in this observation is then recorded and reflected upon to gain further insight into the culture being studied. This observation method helps the anthropologist develop a deeper rapport with the people of the culture and can help others understand their culture further. This experience may result in the individuals opening up more to the anthropologist which allows them to understand more than an etic point of view of the culture.

In contrast to participant observation, non-participant observation is the anthropological method of collecting data by entering within a community but with limited interaction with the people within the culture. This anthropologist can be thought of as a fly on the wall. An etic approach that researchers often use to examine the details of how the subjects interact with one another and the environment around them. Detailed research such as body behavior e.

An example of data collected through non-participant research would be the an estimation of how often women in a household wear high heels due to how worn out the carpet is. The non-participant observation, although effective in providing some research, has limitations. One being, the observer affect.

This is caused by the presence of the researcher having an influence over the participants' actions. The researcher may use systematic approaches of field notes, sampling and data to ensure and increase comfortable interactions. While using the non-participant observation method, the researcher's opinions may oppose that of the participant's on a certain issue.

The only solution to this problem and to have a fuller and unbiased take on the research is to use both non-participant and participant method. Cultural data assumes the form of directly observable material items, individual behaviors, performances, ideas and arrangements that exist only in people's heads.

From the perspective of the culture concept, anthropologists must first treat all these elements as symbols within a coherent system and must record observations with attention to the cultural context and the meanings assigned by the culture's practitioners. These demands are met through two major research techniques: After the initial orientation or entry period, which may take 3 months or longer, the researcher follows a more systematic program of formal interviews involving questions related to research hypotheses and specialized topics.

Several different methods of selecting informants are possible. Usually, a few key informants are selected for in-depth sessions, since the investigation of cultural patterns usually calls for lengthy and repeated open-ended interviews. Selection of such a small number does not allow for strict assurance of a representative sample, so the anthropologist must be careful to choose subjects who are well informed and reliable.

Ethnographic researchers will also train informants to systematically report cultural data and recognize significant cultural elements and interconnections as the interview sequences unfold. Key informant selection is known as judgment sampling and is particularly important for the kind of qualitative research that characterizes ethnography.

Anthropologists will very frequently also need to carry out quantitative research from which statistically validated inferences can be drawn. Accordingly, they must construct an either larger random sample or a total population census for more narrowly focused interviewing according to a closed questionnaire design.

Other important quantitative data might include direct measurement of such items as farm size, crop yield, daily caloric intake, or even blood pressure, depending on the anthropologist's research focus. Aside from written observation and records, researchers will often provide ethnographic representations in other forms, such as collected artifacts, photographs, tape recordings, films, and videos. Since the beginning of anthropological studies, the Comparative Method has been a way to allow a systematic comparison of information and data from multiple sources.

It is a common approach for testing multiple hypotheses on subjects including co-evolution of cultures, the adaptation of cultural practices to the environment, and kinship terms in local languages from around the world. The comparative method, may seem like an outdated form of fieldwork information gathering, however this method is still quite prevalent in modern day anthropological research.

The use of this form of information gathering is intended to compare globalization, which uses a version of this method called multi-sited Ethnography by participant observation gathered from many different social settings.

Another form of the comparative research method is shown through the Human Relations Area Files , which collects and organizes ethnographic texts from hundreds of societies all over the world.

These files cover topics ranging from types of kinship systems, to trading practices found in all of human culture. Anthropologists Ruth Mace--an anthropologist who specializes in evolutionary ecology--and Mark Pagel explore the comparative method of anthropological research in their article The Comparative Method in Anthropology.

They explain how in the past decade there have been many expansions in other branches of anthropology, including cultural diversity as a scientific endeavor. This is when the comparative method is used by those interested in cultural evolution and by those who study other human sciences.

However, "cultures cannot be treated as independent for purposes of investigating cross culture trends," therefore they must instead be studied in relation to one another: How two or more cultures grow together, or how they are researched together has the ability to outline the entire premise of the comparative method.

Having been used for hundreds of years, this method is still one of the main forms of research for anthropologists all over the world. Reflexivity is the awareness of the researcher of the effect they may be having on the research. It involves a constant awareness and assessment of the researcher's own contribution to and influence on the researcher's subjects and their findings.

This principle was perhaps first thought of by William Thomas, as the "Thomas Theorem". Fieldwork in cultural anthropology is a reflexive experience. Anthropologists must constantly be aware that the information they are gathering may be skewed by their ethical opinions, or political standings. Even an anthropologists' presence in that culture can affect the results they receive. Reflexive fieldwork must retain a respect for detailed, accurate information gathering while also paying precise attention to the ethical and political context of research, the background of the researchers, and the full cooperation of informants.

In our everyday lives reflexivity is used to better understand ourselves by comparing our culture to others. For example, when someone talks about their religion, you may immediately disagree with specific aspects of their religion because you have not grown up believing it as they have.

By being reflexive, one would be able to recognize their bias. Some anthropologists have taken this method to the extreme, Margaret Wilson, for example, wrote her book 'Dance Lest We all Fall Down' in a reflexive biographical manner; this accounted for her inability to fully integrate into Brazilian society. Intersubjectivity is the realization that knowledge about other people emerges out of people's relationships with and perceptions of each other.

The concept was first introduced by the principal founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, and creates a "theoretical frame for thinking about the ways in which humans interpret, organize, and reproduce particular forms of social life and social cognition". Intersubjectivity is defined by five key principles.

Instead of a one-way transaction, intersubjectivity should be seen more as a type of mutual understanding. The second claim of Husserl's dissertation is that intersubjectivity is founded on the principle that we all share the same world, so that if two individuals were to "trade places", it would be present itself in the same way.

Through empathetic insight, human beings achieve Platzwechsel , which is a term used in chess to mean "place exchange". The third claim is that intersubjectivity creates a synthesis of worldviews through the usage of empathy.

Although there may be different perspectives in the relationship presented, the collective world is assumed to be the same through the bilateral insight of shared knowledge. In other words, intersubjectivity is not the result of communication, instead it is the condition required for it to occur.

Finally, the fifth claim is that intersubjectivity is the principle by which anthropologists must view their work. In order to properly create an account of a group of people, one must develop relationships with others and deduce perceptions through experience. One of the best things about this book is that it teaches readers how to implement ethics into their research.

It shows how to befriend and respe This is the book that taught me how to think like an Anthropologist. It shows how to befriend and respect the groups that form the basis for the reader's research, and shows how to successfully and honestly conduct participant observation.

This book is a great companion to any record of ethnography. If you read this book hand-in-hand with a piece of anthropological analysis, the failures and successes of the anthropologist will become clear. This method is an excellent way of learning from others successful and unsuccessful research methods.

Feel free to contact me at hello oakhazelnut. Dec 25, Bryce rated it liked it. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

The chapters on fieldwork particularly fieldnotes, interviews, and p-o are fantastic starting points for people wanting to understand how to do anthropological fieldwork. My opinion though- it's outdated, unadventurous, and not going to give you much if your study is much more qualitatively based. The version of anthropology it supports is less a critical interrogation of the world around us, as mu It's considered a classic- if you want an NSF, NEH, Fulbright, etc.

The version of anthropology it supports is less a critical interrogation of the world around us, as much as it is an idealistic direction towards anthropology as a 'social' science. Alas, this is only my opinion, which is always capable of changing: Research Methods in Anthropology supposes that you already have background knowledge in statistics. Bernard supposes that the reader understands complex methods in statistics, and makes no effort to explain the himself.

I found myself having to look up definitions and processes constantly. Maybe it is my fault for not have taken statistics, but as THE book for anthropological data I feel as if it could have been a bit more in depth. Amazingly, I read this book cover to cover.

It's a textbook on qualitative research, so, yeah, sometimes it gets dry. But overall, Bernard keeps the reader's attention and makes sense out of difficult concepts. Jun 17, Michael rated it liked it Recommends it for: If there's a better no-nonsense volume on methodology out there, I haven't found it.

Dec 24, Paul rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Nov 14, Chris Gager rated it liked it. This is sort of the bible of anthropologists of the last generation. I'm sure others have come and replaced its supremecy, but to many of us, it was well thumbed. Oct 19, Amanda rated it really liked it Shelves: Skim-read for a class but it's very interesting and I'll be returning to it and reading properly at some point.

Textbook for a course in Research Methods. Textbook for methods in anthropological fieldwork course. Meighan rated it really liked it Aug 17, Elizabeth rated it really liked it Feb 22, Mollie Pepper rated it it was amazing Mar 17, Kate rated it liked it Sep 15, Amy rated it really liked it Jul 12, Damon Zacharias Lycourinos rated it really liked it Oct 28, Sherri Buete rated it really liked it Nov 05, Vanessa Merker rated it it was amazing Dec 19, Dehanza Daye rated it really liked it Oct 29, Shyann Kilgore rated it it was amazing Jun 24, Ruth Walker rated it really liked it Aug 19, Tristen rated it did not like it May 18, Emylle Franz rated it did not like it Nov 24,


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Ethnography is a core modern research method used in Anthropology as well as in other modern social sciences. Ethnography is the case study of one culture, subculture, or micro-culture made a the researcher immersing themself in said culture.

Privacy FAQs

Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches Sixth Edition by H. Russell Bernard (Author).

About Our Ads

ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH METHODS AND TECHNIQUES SIGNIFICANT LEARNING OUTCOMES which is the heart and soul of Anthropology. Anthropological research is different from other social science researches. For example, sociologists, by and large, work in complex societies. In the following pages different approaches and methods . 'Research Methods in Anthropology' is the standard textbook for methods courses in anthropology. This fourth edition contains all the useful methodological advice of previous editions and more: additional material on text analysis, an expanded section on sampling in field settings, and dozens of new /5.

Cookie Info

Introduction to anthropological research methodology and techniques in ethnology biological anthropology and archaeology. Research Methods in Anthropology is the standard textbook for methods classes in anthropology. Written in Russ BernardOs unmistakable conversational style, his guide has launched tens of thousands of students into the fieldwork enterprise with a combination of rigorous methodology, wry humor, and commonsense advice. The /5(5).