Ethnographic methods (1: 10/10 - What is Anthropology (Eriksen, T. H.…
1: 10/10 - What is Anthropology
Eriksen, T. H. (2004): Why Anthropology? in “What is anthropology?”, Pluto Press, 3-18
American Cultural Anthropology
"every society or culture, has to be understood on its own terms, from within, and that it is neither possible nor particularly interesting to rank societies on an evolutionary ladder"
A method designed to explore cultural variation
"every society has its own, unique history - there are no 'necessary stages' that societies pass through. It is impossible to generalize about historical sequences; they are all unique
Societies have their own history and paths towards both sustainability and mechanisms of change
the act of judging another culture based on preconceptions that are found in values and standards of one's own culture
Also seeing ones own culture as being superior
Not reflecting upon the fact that one is profoundly shaped by a particular culture
The ethnographer should live with the people he studied, participate in everyday work life and activities, make systematic observations along the way.
All parts, institutions of a society form a particular function, similiar to that of a body
The goal of the anthropologist consist in establishing 'natural laws for society'
Gift-giving as glue in societies without centralized power
French Sociologist 1872-1950, nephew of Durkheim
Focused on topics of magic, sacrifice and gift exchanges in different cultures
Great influence to
who founded structural anthropology
Descola, P. (2005). On anthropological knowledge. Social Anthropology, 13(1), 65-73
French Anthropologist, 1949-??
The study of humans and human behavior in the past and present
Study the norms and values of societies
Perceives culture and symbolic behavior as dependent variable (
More prominent in UK
Studies how language affects social life
Biological / Physical Anthropology
Studies biological development of humans
Focused on the study of cultural variation
More prominent in US
Early accounts were not just trying to describe foreign people, but rather to theorize their development and mode of function. They were in other words not just trying to communicate what life was like among 'the others', but to understand why.
”that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Tylor 1871:1)
The branch of anthropology that compares and analyses the characteristics of different people, and their relationships.
The systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group.
As presentation of empirical data of human culture and societies, it was pioneered in branches of anthropology
Generally seen as the founder of modern social science, worked to seperate psychology and political studies from those of social character.
Introduced the hypothetico-deductive-model into social sciences and refined any positivism.
Sociology was the science of institutions, if this term is understood in its broader meaning as "beliefs and modes of behaviour instituted by the collectivity" and its aim being to discover structural social facts. Durkheim was a major proponent of structural functionalism, a foundational perspective in both sociology and anthropology.
Unilineal path of evolutions, ladder-like
Social structures develop only once, and differences and similarities could be explained by historical reconstruction (diffusionism)
7: - Exam case
The doctor weights in
2: 22/10 - Interviews and Participant Observation (Ethno)
Malinowski, B. (1922). Introduction. The subject, method and scope of this inquiry, i "Argonauts of the Western Pacific", Routledge, 11-23
His approach to social theory was a brand of psychological functionalism emphasising how social and cultural institutions serve basic human needs, a perspective opposed to
that emphasised the ways in which social institutions function in relation to society as a whole.
Reciprocity & exchange
Later discussed further by by
The Kula ring / Kula exhange
Ceremonial exchange system of bracelets and necklaces, which is linked to political authority
Polish, but later considered UK, 1884-1942
Writer of the Argonauts of the Western Pacifc (1922), most important writing of the time.
Considered most skilled ethnographers, because of the highly methodological and theorized approach to study of social systems
of the verandah
The natives Point of View
to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world
Besides the firm outline of tribal constitution and crystallized cultural items which form the skeleton, besides the data of daily life and ordinary behavior, which are, so to speak, its flesh and blood, there is still to be recorded the spirit— the natives' views and opinions and utterances.
Critique: Lack of reflexivity
from within the social group, or from the persepctive of the subject
investigates how local people think" (Kottak, 2006): How they perceive and categorize the world, their rules for behavior, what has meaning for them, and how they imagine and explain things
From the outside of the social group, or from the persepctive of the observer
shifts the focus from local observations, categories, explanations, and interpretations to those of the anthropologist. The etic approach realizes that members of a culture often are too involved in what they are doing..... to interpret their cultures impartially. When using the etic approach, the ethnographer emphasizes what he or she considers important.
When these two approaches (
emic & etic
) are combined, the “richest” view of a culture or society can be understood. On its own, an emic approach would struggle with applying overarching values to a single culture. The etic approach is helpful in enabling researchers to see more than one aspect of one culture, and in applying observations to cultures around the world.
Spradley, J. P. (1979). Asking Descriptive Questions, in The ethnographic interview. pp.44-61
American professor of Anthropology 1933-1982)
were every individual is seen as a carrier of culture, rather than seeing culture as the output of current great artists
Describing ethnography as kinda opposing the deductive social science way in that selecting a problem, collecting data, analyzing data, formulating hypotheses, and writing—all happen simultaneously
Spradley, J. P. (1980). Doing Participant Observation, in Participant observation. pp.53-62
The Torres Expedition
lived and worked from the local mission station or trading post, from where they could interact with their informants. They had left the armchair, so to speak, and displaced their collection efforts to the verandahs of colonial outposts around the empire.
Something about rapport
3: 31/10 - Social or cultural anthropology (Cultural)
Radcliffe‐Brown, A. R. (1935). On the concept of function in social science. American Anthropologist, 37(3), 394-402.
English social anthropologist 1881-1955
Greatly influenced by Durkheim
he saw institutions as the key to maintaining the global social order of a society, analogous to the organs of a body, and his studies of social function examine how customs aid in maintaining the overall stability of a society
Comparing societies to each other
it will be only in an integrated and organised study in which historical studies and sociological studies are combined that we shall be able to reach a real understanding of the development of human society
Critique: Falling to consider historical aspects, particulary changes brought by colonialism
Boas, F. (1896). The limitations of the comparative method of anthropology. Science, 4(103), 901-908.
Arguing that cultures are based on different ideas about the world and can therefore only be properly understood in terms of their own standards and values.
White, L. A. (1959). The concept of culture. American anthropologist, 61(2), 227-251.
Concept of culture
5: 28/11 - The Anthropology of Techno-Cultures
Latour, B. & Woolgar, S. (1986): An Anthropologist Enters the Laboratory, Ch.2 in "Laboratory Life", pp.43-90
Miller, D. (2016): Social Media and Social Relationships, Ch.4 in "Social Media in an English Village", pp.92-121
Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (2007). Research design: problems, cases and samples, in Ethnography: Principles in practice. Routledge, pp. 20-40
6: - 11/12 - Critical Perspectives on Ethnography
Crapanzano, Vincent. "Hermes' dilemma: The masking of subversion in ethnographic description." Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography (1986): 51-76
Marcus, G. E. (1995). Ethnography in/of the world system: The emergence of multi-sited ethnography. Annual review of anthropology, 24(1), 95-117.
Ingold, T. (2014). That’s enough about ethnography!. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 4(1), 383-395.
4: 7/11- Explanatory or interpretative science (Cultural)
Lévi-Strauss, C. (1963). Structural Analysis in Linguistics and in Anthropology, i Structural Anthropology (Vol. 1). Basic Books, 31-51
Geertz, C. (1994 ). Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. Readings in the philosophy of social science, 213-231