Chapter 5
Methods in
Cultural Anthropology
What We Will Learn
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•
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How do cultural anthropologists conduct
fieldwork?
What types of data-gathering techniques do
cultural anthropologists use?
What are some of the problems faced by
cultural anthropologists that make fieldwork
somewhat less than romantic?
What ethical dilemmas do applied
anthropologists face when conducting
fieldwork?
Common Issues in Fieldwork
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Gaining acceptance in the community.
Selecting the most appropriate datagathering techniques.
Understanding how to operate within the
local political structure.
Taking precautions against investigator
bias.
Common Issues in Fieldwork
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Choosing knowledgeable informants.
Coping with culture shock.
Learning a new language.
Be willing to reevaluate findings in the
light of new evidence.
Fieldwork
•
The study of everyday
life in the state of Bahia
in Brazil (above)
presents different
problems and challenges
to the field anthropologist
than does the study of
village life in Namibia
(below).
Participant Observation
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Cultural
anthropologist Steve
Winn conducts
participant
observation fieldwork
in central Africa
among the Efe of
Zaire.
Preparing for Fieldwork
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Obtain funding from a source that
supports anthropological research.
Take the proper health precautions.
Obtain permission or clearance from the
host government.
Become proficient in the local language.
Make arrangements for personal
possessions while out of the country.
Basic Stages of Field Research
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Selecting a research problem
Formulating a research design
Collecting the data
Analyzing the data
Interpreting the data
Kenya Kinship Study (KKS)
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Studied the relationship between family
interaction and urbanization.
The KKS identified several ways to identify
concrete measures of family interaction:
1. Residence patterns
2. Visitation patterns
3. Mutual assistance
4. Formal family gatherings
Cultural anthropologists collect their data
and test their hypotheses by means of:
25%
1.
2.
3.
4.
25%
25%
25%
analyzing data.
reflexive
ethnography.
sociometric
sampling.
fieldwork.
1
2
3
4
Answer: 4
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Cultural anthropologists collect their data
and test their hypotheses by means of
fieldwork.
Data Gathering Techniques
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Participant-Observation
Interviewing
Census Taking
Mapping
Document Analysis
Collecting Genealogies
Photography
Collecting Data
•
Alan Rumsey listens
to a warrior from
Highland New
Guinea while
collecting linguistic
anthropological data.
Guidelines for ParticipantObservation Fieldwork
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When introducing oneself, select one role
and use it consistently.
Proceed slowly.
Assume the role of a student wanting to
learn more about a subject on which the
people are the experts.
Participant-Observation
Advantages
•Enhances rapport
•Enables
fieldworkers to
distinguish actual
and expected
behavior.
•Permits observation
of nonverbal
behavior.
Disadvantages
•Small sample size.
•Difficult to obtain
standardized comparable
data.
•Problems of recording.
•Obtrusive effect on subject
matter
Participant Observation
•
Anthropologist Mark
Jenike weighs a
duiker that was
caught by a Lese
hunter in Zaire,
central Africa.
_____ involves selecting the appropriate
data-gathering techniques for measuring the
research variables.
25%
1.
2.
3.
4.
25%
25%
25%
Interpreting data
Research design
Analyzing data
Collecting data
1
2
3
4
Answer: 4
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Collecting data involves selecting the
appropriate data-gathering techniques for
measuring the research variables.
Once the data has been gathered, the
researcher moves to:
25%
1.
2.
3.
4.
25%
25%
25%
research design.
interpreting data.
analyzing data.
participant
observation.
1
2
3
4
Answer: 3
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Once the data has been gathered, the
researcher moves to analyzing data.
Anthropological Fieldwork
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Anthropologist
Marjorie Shostak
conducting
anthropological
fieldwork among the
indigenous peoples
of the Kalahari Desert
in Botswana,
southern Africa.
Anthropological Research and
AIDS
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In 2003 AIDS claimed 3 million lives, or more
than 8,200 people each day.
95% of all new AIDS cases are occurring in the
poorest countries that are least equipped to
handle the epidemic.
The life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is
currently 47 years, but without the AIDS
epidemic, life expectancy would be 62 years.
Anthropological Research and
AIDS
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One study was conducted by anthropologist
Michelle Renaud who worked with registered
prostitutes in Kaolack, Senegal.
It was estimated that 4 of every 10 of Kaolack’s
registered prostitutes were HIV positive, as
compared to 10% of prostitutes nationally.
Almost all prostitutes enforced condom use with
clients, but as girlfriends, they required their
partners to use condoms only 71% of the time.
Anthropological Research and
AIDS
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Nonprostitutes sample were reluctant to insist
that their sexual partners use condoms.
Renaud concluded that both prostitutes and
nonprostitutes did not want to risk losing their
partners by implying that one of them might be
HIV positive.
She recommended to Senegalese health
officials that future AIDS education programs
target groups other than just prostitutes,
including clients of prostitutes and their
boyfriends.
Distribution of HIV/AIDS
Ethnographic Interview
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How it is unique:
• The interviewer and the subject almost
always speak different first languages.
• Much broader in scope because it
elicits information on the entire culture.
• Used in conjunction with other datagathering techniques.
Structured and Unstructured
Interviews
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In unstructured interviews the
interviewer asks open-ended questions
and allows interviewees to respond at
their own pace in their own words.
In structured interviews, the interviewer
asks all informants the same questions, in
the same sequence, and under the same
set of conditions.
Guidelines for Ethnographic
Interviewing
1.
2.
3.
4.
Obtain informed consent before
interviewing.
Maintain neutrality by not conveying to
the interviewee what may be the
“desired” answer.
Pre-test questions to make sure they are
understandable and culturally relevant.
Keep the recording unobtrusive.
Guidelines for Ethnographic
Interviewing
5.
6.
7.
Make certain the conditions under which
the interviews are conducted are
consistent.
Use simple, clean, and jargon-free
language.
Phrase questions positively.
Guidelines for Ethnographic
Interviewing
8.
9.
10.
Keep the questions and the interview
short.
Avoid questions that have two parts to
the answer.
Save controversial questions for the
end.
_____ involve a minimum of control, with the
anthropologist asking open-ended questions
on general topics.
25%
1.
2.
3.
4.
25%
25%
25%
Structured
interviews
Family profile data
Research designs
Unstructured
interviews
1
2
3
4
Answered: 4
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Unstructured interviews involve a
minimum of control, with the
anthropologist asking open-ended
questions on general topics.
Ethnographers in the Field
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Ethnographers in the
field are interested in
studying all segments
of a population.
They would include
these children from
Guizhou Province in
China as well as their
parents.
Choosing A Data-gathering
Technique
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What is the nature of the problem being
investigated?
How receptive are the people being
studied?
Characteristics of Culture
Shock
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Confusion over how to behave.
Surprise or disgust after realizing some of
the features of the new culture.
Feeling a loss of old familiar surroundings
and ways of doing things.
Characteristics of Culture
Shock
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Feeling rejected by members of the new
culture.
Loss of self-esteem because you don’t
seem to be functioning very effectively.
Doubt over your own cultural values.
Symptoms of Culture Shock
Compulsive eating
Homesickness
or drinking
Chauvinistic
excesses
Boredom
Irritability
Stereotyping and
hostility toward host
nationals
Withdrawal
Exaggerated
cleanliness
Loss of ability to
work effectively
Excessive
sleep
Marital stress and
family tension
Unexplainable
weeping
Narrative Ethnography
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Narrative ethnographers are not
interested in descriptive accounts of
another culture written with scientific
detachment.
Their ethnographies are reflections of how
their own personalities and cultural
influences combine with personal
encounters with their informants to
produce cultural data.
The Far Side by Gary Larson
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Cultural
anthropologists often
have an obstructive
effect on the people
they study.
The Human Relations Area
Files (HRAF)
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The world’s largest anthropological data
bank.
Developed for the purpose of testing
hypotheses and building theory.
Ethnographic data on over 300 cultures
organized according to 700 different
subjects.
Ethics and Anthropology
Areas of responsibility for anthropologists:
• The people under study
• The local communities
• The host governments and their own
government
• Other members of the scholarly community
• Organizations that sponsor research
• Their own students
Tuskegee Syphilis Study
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Herman Shaw, 94, a
Tuskegee Syphilis Study
victim, smiles after
receiving an official
apology from President
Clinton.
Clinton apologized to
black men whose syphilis
went untreated by
government doctors.
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Chapter 5