Analysis of Anthropology Methodologies

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Jose Bravo
Anthropology 310
Analysis of Anthropology Methodologies
Culture is an abstract term used by anthropologists to describe a people's way of life. The book defines culture as "the sum total of the knowledge, ideas, behaviors, and material creations that are learned, shared, and transmitted primarily through the symbolic system of language" (Lenkeit 26). Culture is such an important topic that anthropologists have devoted a whole subfield to its study. This subfield, cultural anthropology, sets out to compare and contrast different cultures throughout the world. Cultural anthropologists accomplish this insurmountable task by using various field methods when they are performing their ethnographic research. These field methods can include participant observation, informal interviews, use of key informants, and the genealogical method. The purpose of this paper is to analyze four ethnographic studies, and the methodologies the anthropologists used to complete their study.

Participant observation is what cultural anthropology is founded on. "The anthropologist in the field situation strives to achieve the role of participant observer. The ideal role is to participate in the society and learn about the culture and concurrently maintain the eye of an objective observer" (Lenkeit 62). Fieldwork generally needs to take place for a full year and the anthropologist has to experience the culture from the emic view. Informal interviews are a way to gather information about the past, present, and future of the society. Since many of the cultures don't have a written language, these informal interviews are the only way of gathering information such as life histories.

In the article, "When Brothers Share a Wife", the anthropologist, Melvyn C. Goldstein, performed ethnographic research among Tibetans. More specifically she studied the tradition of polyandry which is where multiple brothers marry the same woman. She became a participant...
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