Anthropological Research and Techniques

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Information about Anthropological Research and Techniques

Published on July 12, 2008

Author: PaulVMcDowell

Source: slideshare.net

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Anthropological and Scientific Method.

Anthropological Theory and Research Analyzing Sociocultural Systems

Two Competing Approaches Scientific: Search for hidden but universal and unchanging principles Experiential or Humanities: Experiencing another culture from a personal view Can the two complement each other?

Scientific: Search for hidden but universal and unchanging principles

Experiential or Humanities: Experiencing another culture from a personal view

Can the two complement each other?

Overview of This Lecture Basic methods and techniques in anthropology Basic terms in research and theory Basic principles of science A sixfold test for assessing propositions Reconciliation between the scientific and the experiential

Basic methods and techniques in anthropology

Basic terms in research and theory

Basic principles of science

A sixfold test for assessing propositions

Reconciliation between the scientific and the experiential

Anthropological Method I: Fundamental Principles Holism: All aspects of a culture must be considered, especially their interconnections Cross-Cultural Comparison : Comparison of similar cultural traits Cultural Relativism: Two Interpretations Scientific detachment: observe what is out there—even cannibalism.

Holism: All aspects of a culture must be considered, especially their interconnections

Cross-Cultural Comparison : Comparison of similar cultural traits

Cultural Relativism: Two Interpretations

Scientific detachment: observe what is out there—even cannibalism.

Anthropological Method II: Cultural Relativism Cultural Relativism: Acceptance of culture according to own standards Ethnocentrism: Belief in superiority of one’s own culture (Reflected in this neo-Nazi rally) Ethical Relativism: Do we accept all cultural practices? (Like this Chinese prison camp in the name of “right to development”)

Cultural Relativism: Acceptance of culture according to own standards

Ethnocentrism: Belief in superiority of one’s own culture

(Reflected in this neo-Nazi rally)

Ethical Relativism: Do we accept all cultural practices?

(Like this Chinese prison camp in the name of “right to development”)

Anthropological Method III: Meaning of Cultural Relativism Cultural Relativism as Scientific Detachment: To understand people’s behavior Such as Dani warfare (top photo) Cultural Boundedness: How our mental structure is culturally derived, often unconsciously Muslims interpret Burger King’s lid image of a spinning ice cream cone (left) As an Arabic inscription for Allah (right) (Source: The Scotsman 9/17/05)

Cultural Relativism as Scientific Detachment: To understand people’s behavior

Such as Dani warfare (top photo)

Cultural Boundedness: How our mental structure is culturally derived, often unconsciously

Muslims interpret Burger King’s lid image of a spinning ice cream cone (left)

As an Arabic inscription for Allah (right) (Source: The Scotsman 9/17/05)

Anthropological Method IV: Universalism Definition: Practices that occur worldwide Incest tabu (Egyptian brother-sister marriage) Etiquette: Acceptable “polite” behavior Reciprocity (gift exchange) red necklace (suspended) and white armshells (on floor) in kula ring , Trobriand Islands

Definition: Practices that occur worldwide

Incest tabu (Egyptian brother-sister marriage)

Etiquette: Acceptable “polite” behavior

Reciprocity (gift exchange) red necklace (suspended) and white armshells (on floor) in kula ring , Trobriand Islands

Anthropological Techniques Observation Participant Observation (horn blowing in an African Obo royal court) Interviews (with a market woman in Ghana) Other techniques according to : The topic of research Audiovisual technology Informant participation or lack thereof

Observation

Participant Observation (horn blowing in an African Obo royal court)

Interviews (with a market woman in Ghana)

Other techniques according to :

The topic of research

Audiovisual technology

Informant participation or lack thereof

Some Basic Terms of Science Hypothesis : An educated guess explaining some thing or event Observed in the lab or field Theory: A confirmed hypothesis Induction: Building a hypothesis from observations or lab experiments Deduction: Predicting what should occur based on confirmed body of facts, principles, or beliefs

Hypothesis : An educated guess explaining some thing or event

Observed in the lab or field

Theory: A confirmed hypothesis

Induction: Building a hypothesis from observations or lab experiments

Deduction: Predicting what should occur based on confirmed body of facts, principles, or beliefs

Some Basic Terms of Research I Sample : Part of a population selected for research Random sample: One in which everyone has a chance of being included Representative sample : One in which all groups are included. Universe: Total population from which sample is drawn

Sample : Part of a population selected for research

Random sample: One in which everyone has a chance of being included

Representative sample : One in which all groups are included.

Universe: Total population from which sample is drawn

Some Basic Terms of Research II Bias: Use of any technique that fails to elicit a random/representative sample Techniques: Instruments used to gather information (observations, interviews, video, tape recording, etc.) Method: Justification for selection of a technique Methodology: Overall plan that forms a coherent relation among the methods

Bias: Use of any technique that fails to elicit a random/representative sample

Techniques: Instruments used to gather information (observations, interviews, video, tape recording, etc.)

Method: Justification for selection of a technique

Methodology: Overall plan that forms a coherent relation among the methods

How to Develop a Hypothesis: Induction and Deduction

How to Test a Hypothesis

The Phases of Scientific Method Phase 1: Observe Things/Events in Field Phase 2: Develop an explanation (hypothesis) Phase 3: Gather relevant data Phase 4: Evaluate hypothesis with data. Phase 5: Repeat procedure Accept confirmed hypotheses or Reject or modify disconfirmed hypotheses

Phase 1: Observe Things/Events in Field

Phase 2: Develop an explanation (hypothesis)

Phase 3: Gather relevant data

Phase 4: Evaluate hypothesis with data.

Phase 5: Repeat procedure

Accept confirmed hypotheses or

Reject or modify disconfirmed hypotheses

Scientific Method as Probabilistic Any theory can be tossed as new information come in Therefore, all theories are probabilistic and none can be stated with finality Today’s theory can be in tomorrow’s dustbin

Any theory can be tossed as new information come in

Therefore, all theories are probabilistic and none can be stated with finality

Today’s theory can be in tomorrow’s dustbin

A Six-Way Test Background: James Lett, CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) and anthropologist. The six-way test goes by the acronym FiLCHeRS, or Falsifiability; Logic, Comprehensiveness, Honesty, Replication, and Sufficiency

Background: James Lett, CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) and anthropologist.

The six-way test goes by the acronym FiLCHeRS, or

Falsifiability; Logic, Comprehensiveness, Honesty, Replication, and Sufficiency

Falsifiability Does not mean to cook or fudge the data The hypothesis must be so stated that if unsupported it is rejected (or falsified) Thus, it must specify the conditions under which it is rejected. Opposite 1: Broadly stated propositions Opposite 2: Use of the multiple out, or what do you say to the Instant Creator?

Does not mean to cook or fudge the data

The hypothesis must be so stated that if unsupported it is rejected (or falsified)

Thus, it must specify the conditions under which it is rejected.

Opposite 1: Broadly stated propositions

Opposite 2: Use of the multiple out, or what do you say to the Instant Creator?

Logic There are two basic kinds of logic: inductive and deductive Inductive: gathering enough facts to lead to a conclusion. Deductive: Starting at a major premise and reasoning down to a minor premise then a conclusion. Lett argues from the deductive.

There are two basic kinds of logic: inductive and deductive

Inductive: gathering enough facts to lead to a conclusion.

Deductive: Starting at a major premise and reasoning down to a minor premise then a conclusion.

Lett argues from the deductive.

Logic (Continued) Basic statement: Any argument offered as evidence in support of any claim must be both: Valid: follows from accepted proposition Of assumptions (e.g. “God exists” in theology) Of math: e.g. straight line postulate Of scientific law: E=mc 2 Sound: that is, be true

Basic statement: Any argument offered as evidence in support of any claim must be both:

Valid: follows from accepted proposition

Of assumptions (e.g. “God exists” in theology)

Of math: e.g. straight line postulate

Of scientific law: E=mc 2

Sound: that is, be true

Comprehensiveness Evidence offered in support of any claim must be exhaustive All relevant evidence must be considered Opposite: Selective presentation of evidence that supports the claim Example: politicians, courtroom tactics

Evidence offered in support of any claim must be exhaustive

All relevant evidence must be considered

Opposite: Selective presentation of evidence that supports the claim

Example: politicians, courtroom tactics

Honesty Evidence must be evaluated without either self-deception or intent to deceive Examples of temptations toward dishonesty Strong incentives such as funding to support pet theories Basic fault of advocacy groups, politicians, and lawyers Honesty could only lead to better hypotheses--i.e. to better explain facts

Evidence must be evaluated without either self-deception or intent to deceive

Examples of temptations toward dishonesty

Strong incentives such as funding to support pet theories

Basic fault of advocacy groups, politicians, and lawyers

Honesty could only lead to better hypotheses--i.e. to better explain facts

Replicability To verify positive results the experiment or field research must be repeated under identical conditions. Controlled experiments can be replicated Anthropology: Restudies are less controlled Restudies haven’t done well Lewis v. Redfiield in Tepoztl á n, Mexico Freeman v. Mead in Samoa

To verify positive results

the experiment or field research must

be repeated

under identical conditions.

Controlled experiments can be replicated

Anthropology: Restudies are less controlled

Restudies haven’t done well

Lewis v. Redfiield in Tepoztl á n, Mexico

Freeman v. Mead in Samoa

Sufficiency Evidence must be adequate to support any claim Burden of proof is on claimant Expert testimony is never adequate (Would you buy Nike because Michael Jordan says to? Or Hanes?) Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Evidence must be adequate to support any claim

Burden of proof is on claimant

Expert testimony is never adequate (Would you buy Nike because Michael Jordan says to? Or Hanes?)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Welcome Back to the Real World The tests demand a perfect world Real world: the field is not a lab Homo sapiens have the same hardware But individuals and cultures vary The compromise Careful preparation Flexibility in the field

The tests demand a perfect world

Real world: the field is not a lab

Homo sapiens have the same hardware

But individuals and cultures vary

The compromise

Careful preparation

Flexibility in the field

Conclusion First aim: to develop generalizations that apply to all societies Second aim: to explain the diversity of cultures Research must therefore meet rigorous standards, such as Lett’s Six-Way Test

First aim: to develop generalizations that apply to all societies

Second aim: to explain the diversity of cultures

Research must therefore meet rigorous standards, such as Lett’s Six-Way Test

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