Doing Ethnography: Cultural Anthropology Research Methods Part III

Doing Ethnography:
Cultural Anthropology
Research Methods
Part III
Ethnographic Tools and Aids:
Anthropology is unique among the
sciences in that a human being is the
major research instrument, and other
human beings supply most of the data.
 A key consultant is a member of the
society being studied, who provides
information that helps researchers
understand the meaning of what they
Data Gathering: The
Ethnographer’s Approach
Quantitative data consists of statistical or
measurable information, such as
demographic composition, the types and
quantities of crops grown, or the ratio of
spouses born and raised within or outside
the community.
 Qualitative data concerns non-statistical
information such as personal life stories
and customary beliefs and practices.
Data Collection:
Taking surveys
– Informal interviews are unstructured, openended conversations in everyday life.
– Formal interviews are structured
question/answer sessions carefully notated as
it occurs and based on prepared questions.
Data Collection (cont.):
Eliciting devices are activities and/or
objects used to draw out individuals and
encourage them to recall and share
 Mapping culturally relevant geographic
features in the landscape inhibited by the
people they study is something that the
anthropologist, rather than a cartographer,
would need to do.
Data Collection (cont.):
Photographing and Filming is a part of
most anthropological research
– still shots: Franz Boas in the early 1880s
– motion picture cameras in 1894
– portable video cameras in 1960
Photographs and film are used in varying
ways, to aid in both the research process
as well as the relying of information postresearch.