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Four Fields of Anthropology
Holistic, Comparative, and Fieldwork-based
How is anthropology comparative?
- –frames of reference
How is Anthropology holistic?
the four fields, and applied anthropology
Major research tool of cultural anthropology
Includes both fieldwork among people in society and written results of fieldwork
Anthropology began in...
late 19th Century as a comparative science
Ethnographers before concentrated on...
small-scale, technologically simpler societies
Cultures before were placed on...
evolutionary scales of cultural development
-father of American anthropology
-insisted that grasping whole of culture could be achieved only through fieldwork
-Argued that cultures are products of their own history and are unique and particular
-Insisted that anthropologists free themselves as much as possible from ethnocentrism and practice cultural relativism
-Tirelessly promoted human rights and justice
-Studied with scholars of Alfred Cort Haddon’s Torres Straits Expedition
-Worked as participant observer in Trobriand Islands
-Stressed interrelations among elements of culture
-Emphasized notion of function: contributions made by social practices and institutions to maintenance and stability of a society
What is Fieldwork?
-First hand, systematic exploration of a society
-Develops a holistic perspective about a culture
- -It involves living with group of people, participating in, and observing their
What is Participant Observation?
- -The fieldwork technique that involves gathering cultural data by observing people’s
- behavior and participating in their lives
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
A committee organized by a university or other research institution that approves, monitors, and reviews all research that involves human subjects
Feelings of alienation and helplessness that result from rapid immersion in a new and different culture
Research Styles of Ethnography
Emic perspective and Etic perspective
examining a society using concepts and distinctions that are meaningful to that culture
examining societies using concepts, categories, and rules derived from science
an outsider’s perspective
-Sometimes also called key informant.
-Person from whom an anthropologist gathers data
-Emphasizes the collaborative nature of anthropological fieldwork
Examples of Cross-Cultural Comparisons
-British and European anthropology emphasized ethnology
-Human Relations Area Files (HRAF)
attempt to find general principles or laws that govern cultural phenomena
Human Relations Area Files (HRAF)
an ethnographic database that includes descriptions of many cultures and is used for cross-cultural research
About Feminist Anthropology
-Questions gender bias in ethnography and cultural theory
- -Encourages research that elicits a female perspective in a society, acknowledges
- significant role that females play in all human cultures, and approaches culture from behind-the-scenes as well as publicly
-Has resulted in a more heterogeneous understanding of culture and society
-Theory that focuses on issues of power and voice
- -Postmodernists suggest anthropological accounts are partial truths and reflect the background, training, and social position of
- their authors
Ethnography that gives priority to cultural consultants on the topic, methodology, and written results of research
Includes political action as a major goal of fieldwork.
Engaged anthropologists have no difficulty choosing sides in political contests
-An anthropologist who does fieldwork in his or her own culture
-Anthropologists must maintain social distance of outsider
-Becoming more common in research today
(Ethical Considerations) Anthropologists must...
-Obtain consent of people to be studied
-Protect them from risk and respect their privacy and dignity
-Protect other anthropologists and future research possibilities.
-Publish research findings
-The ways in which societies transform material resources of the environment into food, clothing, and shelter
Subsistence Strategies developed in response to..
-Seasonal variation in the environment.
-Environmental variations over the long run such as drought, flood, or animal diseases
Major Subsistence Strategies
•Relies on food naturally available in the environment.
•Strategy for 99% of the time humans have been on earth.
•Limits population growth and complexity of social organization
•Caring for domesticated animals which produce both meat and milk
•Involves a complex interaction among animals, land, and people
•Found along with cultivation or trading relations with food cultivators
About Transhumant Pastoralism
•Found mostly in East Africa
- •Men and boys move animals regularly throughout the year to different areas as
- pastures become available at different altitudes or in different climatic zones
•Women and children and some men remain at a permanent village site
•The whole population—men, women, and children—moves with the herds throughout the year
•There are no permanent villages
•Production of plants using non-mechanized technology.
•Plant and harvest with simple tools, without use of animals, irrigation, or plows.
•Typically a tropical forest adaptation and requires cutting and burning of jungle to clear fields for cultivation
Swidden (slash and burn)
-(slash and burn)
-A form of cultivation in which a field is cleared by felling the trees and burning the brush
•Production of plants using plows, animals, and soil and water control
- •Associated with:
- –Sedentary villages, the rise of cities
Rural cultivators who produce for the subsistence of their households, but are also integrated into larger, complex state societies
Transition to Industrial Economy
Had an effect on many aspects of society:
•Expanded consumption of resources
•Shift from subsistence strategies to wage labor
- -Part of society that deals with production, distribution, and consumption of
- goods and services
- -The way production is organized has consequences for family and political
-Economics is embedded in the social process and cultural pattern
the study of how the choices people make determine how their society uses its resources to produce and distribute goods and services
defined by economists is choosing a course of action that pursues the course of perceived maximum benefit
-Each society has rules to regulate access to resources
Each society has rules to regulate access to resources
Land, water, labor, and the materials from which tools are made
-used to create other goods or information: Material goods, natural resources, or information
The right to use something (usually land) but not to sell it or alter it in substantial ways
Productive Resources and Subsistence Strategies
-Foragers: weapons to hunt animals
-Pastoralists: livestock and land
-Horticulturalists: land, tools, and storage facilities
- -Productive resources that are used with the primary goal of increasing their owner’s
- financial wealth
-Principal form of economic organization in capitalist societies
-In small-scale preindustrial and peasant economies, the "household" or some extended kin group is the basic unit of production and consumption
-Labor is just one aspect of membership in a social group such as the family
-In Western society, work has very important social implications
- -For many people, particularly members of the middle classes, work is a source of
- self-respect, challenge, growth, and personal fulfillment
-In most nonindustrial societies, production is based around the household
-An economic unit, people united by kinship or other links who share a residence and organize production, consumption, and distribution among themselves
Sexual Division of Labor
-Universal characteristic of society
-In foraging societies, men generally hunt and women generally gather
-In agricultural societies, both men and women play important roles in food production
Three Main Systems of Exchange
Mutual give-and-take among people of equal status
Generalized reciprocity and Balanced reciprocity
A distribution of goods with no immediate or specific return expected
Exchange of goods of nearly equal value, with a clear obligation to return them within a specified time limit
A pattern of exchange among many trading partners in the Trobriands and other South Pacific islands
Exchange in which goods are collected from members of the group and then redistributed to the group
Ex. Potlatch, Leveling mechanism, Cargo system
a competitive giveaway practiced by Kwakiutl and other groups of the northwest coast of North America
a practice, value, or form of social organization that evens out wealth within a society
a ritual system common in Central and South America in which wealthy people are required to hold a series of costly ceremonial offices
-Economic system in which goods and services are bought and sold at a price determined by supply and demand
-Impersonal and occurs without regard to the social position of the participants
-When this is the key economic institution, social and political goals are less important than financial goals
Characteristics of Capitalism
-Most productive resources are owned by a small portion of the population
-Most individuals’ primary resource is their own labor
-The value of workers’ contribution to production is always intended to be greater than the wages they receive
Surplus Value of Labor
Marxist term for the difference between the wages a worker is paid and the value of their contribution to production to the capitalist