Doing Ethnography: Cultural Anthropology Research Methods Part IV

Doing Ethnography:
Cultural Anthropology
Research Methods
Part IV
The Problem of Subjectivity: Things
are Not as They Seem
The people’s own understanding of their
culture and the general rules they share
The extent to which people believe they
are observing those rules
The behavior that can be directly observed
Ethnographic Reflexivity:
Acknowledging the Researcher as
Challenges in validating ethnographic
– insufficient funding
– logistical difficulties in reaching the site
– problems in obtaining permits
– and the fact that cultural and environmental
conditions often change
Putting It All Together: Completing
an Ethnography
Ethnographies are, typically, written
descriptions that the anthropologist has
broken down into chapters with specific
Digital ethnography is the use of digital
technologies for the collection, analysis,
and representation of ethnographic data.
A kind of historical ethnography that
studies cultures of the recent past through
oral histories, the accounts of explorers,
missionaries, and traders, and through
analysis of records such as land titles,
birth and death records, and other archival
Ethnology: From Description to
Interpretation and Theory
Traditionally the aim of anthropological
fieldwork was the description of a total
cultural pattern.
Today, however, many anthropologists go
into the field with the aim of focusing on
specific theoretical problems.
Human Relations Area File:
The goal of the cross-cultural comparison is to
test generalizations about culture, using
statistical correlations of culture traits based on
a wide survey of several different cultures.
Human Relations Area File (HRAF). The HRAF is
a vast collection of cross-indexed ethnographic
and archaeological data catalogued by cultural
characteristics and geographic locations.
Anthropology’s Theoretical
Perspectives: A Brief Overview
Idealist perspective is  Materialist perspective
a theoretical approach
is a theoretical
stressing the primacy
approach stressing
of superstructure in
the primacy of
cultural research and
infrastructure in
cultural research and
– ethnoscience
– structuralism
– postmodernism
– Marxism
– cultural ecology
– cultural materialism
Informed Consent
Formal, recorded agreement to participate
in research
AAA Code of Ethics (central maxim):
– “Anthropological researchers must do
everything in their power to ensure that their
research does not harm the safety, dignity, or
privacy of the people with whom they work,
conduct research, or perform other
professional activities."