Etic vs. Emic Approaches in Anthropology

Topics: Anthropology, Emic and etic, Ethnography Pages: 5 (1701 words) Published: June 12, 2013
Adrian Simons-Wilson

Working in the field as a cultural anthropologist requires participant observation, interviews, and observation. (Knight) The etic and emic-orientated styles are two different styles that applied anthropologists use in their field work. The etic-orientated approach is a perspective that in ethnography uses concepts and categories for the anthropologists culture to describe another culture. (Ferraro/Andretta) The emic-orientated approach is a viewpoint in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories that are relevant and meaningful to the culture under analysis (Ferraro/Andreatta). There has been much debate on whether the etic or emic-orientated techniques of research should be used in the field. Cultural anthropology should focus on a joint permutation on both the etic and emic-oriented research styles to produce the most useful results because of the advantages and disadvantages both contain. “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari,” “Shakespeare in the Bush,” and “Instructor’s Notes: Emic and Etic” are all intelligent sources that have helped lead me to the conclusion that a joint permutation of etic and emic is best for doing research in the field. This paper will outline the principles of etic and emic-orientation and why both are needed to have the most preeminent information available about cultures, with examples from multiple articles.

A meal consists usually of a food and a drink of sorts. Let’s take spaghetti and red wine. For a person who enjoys both spaghetti and red wine this will being the most optimum results to their pleasure of the meal from the combination of the two. People commonly enjoy their meals with a drink. Research can be looked at in the same way. Statistics are a great way of looking at how a community is either improving or falling behind the rest of their culture as far as their social economic status is concerned. We would not be able to know why they are improving or falling behind without involving oneself within that community and studying their families, work, hobbies, etc. Etic and emic research techniques can be looked at in the same fashion. Etic is a more scientific way of reviewing field work. Emic is a more in-depth look at what cannot be calculated or graphed. Math and Literacy are both commonly needed to have a high paying job with paid vacation, and other extras tied in, within the United States. Etic allows connections to be made universally and strong rational points to be made. Emic allows things that cannot be defined, such as love, a definition within the context of the culture it is being used. When we see our similarities we can have empathy and sympathy, which creates harmony. When we see our differences but know that under cultural relativism they are not to be afraid of but appreciated we understand that we are all unique individuals in which to be valued. Learning empathy/sympathy and valuing each other leads to more harmony. Harmony brings happiness. Happiness is the ultimate life goal. To achieve happiness we need to use both the etic and emic techniques.

Etic-orientated studies succeed because it analyzes the culture being studied based on the basic needs of humans such as food, water, shelter, etc. This can give a reason to why a culture might be capitalist based or socialist based. It always has a reasonable well thought out explanation that typically cannot be argued against logically. For example there is no water in the lake. That can be understood from the etic perspective that it has not rained for several months. The etic style of field work also brings around universal truths, showing us that we are all connected.

Etic-orientated research fails because it does not look at individuals and things that cannot be defined within the humanities. Why someone thinks and acts a certain way can sometimes be predicted by scientific means, but the majority of the time they are just educated guesses, referred to as theories. In this...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Emic vs Etic Essay
  • Anthropology Essay
  • Anthropology Essay
  • Emic and Etic Essay
  • Physical Anthropology vs. Cultural Anthropology Essay
  • Anthropology Essay
  • branches of anthropology Essay
  • Anthropology Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free