Anthropological Research and Theory

8,902 views
8,645 views

Published on

Describes Anthropological Research Techniques, then covers basics of scientific method, including inductive and deductive approaches, hypothesis and theory, and testing hypotheses

Published in: Technology
2 Comments
5 Likes
Statistics
Notes
No Downloads
Views
Total views
8,902
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
310
Comments
2
Likes
5
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Anthropological Research and Theory

  1. 1. Anthropological Theory and Research Analyzing Sociocultural Systems
  2. 2. Two Competing Approaches <ul><li>Scientific: Search for hidden but universal and unchanging principles </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential or Humanities: Experiencing another culture from a personal view </li></ul><ul><li>Can the two complement each other? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Overview of This Lecture <ul><li>Basic methods and techniques in anthropology </li></ul><ul><li>Basic terms in research and theory </li></ul><ul><li>Basic principles of science </li></ul><ul><li>A sixfold test for assessing propositions </li></ul><ul><li>Reconciliation between the scientific and the experiential </li></ul>
  4. 4. Anthropological Method I: Fundamental Principles <ul><li>Holism: All aspects of a culture must be considered, especially their interconnections </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-Cultural Comparison : Comparison of similar cultural traits </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Relativism: Two Interpretations </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific detachment: observe what is out there—even cannibalism. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Anthropological Method II: Cultural Relativism <ul><li>Cultural Relativism: Acceptance of culture according to own standards </li></ul><ul><li>Ethnocentrism: Belief in superiority of one’s own culture (reflected in this neo-Nazi rally) </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical Relativism: Do we accept all cultural practices (like this Chinese prison camp in the name of “right to development”) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Anthropological Method III: Interpretations of Cultural Relativism <ul><li>Cultural Relativism as Scientific Detachment: To understand people’s behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Such as Dani warfare </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural Boundedness: How our mental structure is culturally derived , often unconsciously </li></ul><ul><li>Muslims interpret Burger King’s lid image of a spinning ice cream cone in Britain (left) </li></ul><ul><li>As an Arabic inscription for Allah (right ) (Source: The Scotsman 9/17/05) </li></ul><ul><li>Plaintiff Quote: “How can you say it is a spinning swirl? If you spin it one way to the right you are offending Muslims .&quot; </li></ul>
  7. 7. Anthropological Method IV: Universalism <ul><li>Definition: Practices that occur worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>Incest tabu (Egyptian brother-sister marriage) </li></ul><ul><li>Etiquette </li></ul><ul><li>Reciprocity (gift exchange) red necklace (suspended) and white armshells (on floor) in kula ring , Trobriand Islands </li></ul>
  8. 8. Anthropological Techniques <ul><li>Observation </li></ul><ul><li>Participant Observation (horn blowing in an African Obo royal court) </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews (with a market woman in Ghana) </li></ul><ul><li>Other techniques according to : </li></ul><ul><li>The topic of research </li></ul><ul><li>Audiovisual technology </li></ul><ul><li>Informant participation or lack thereof </li></ul>
  9. 9. Some Basic Terms of Science <ul><li>Hypothesis : An educated guess explaining some thing or event </li></ul><ul><li>Observed in the lab or field </li></ul><ul><li>Theory: A confirmed hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>Induction: Building a hypothesis from observations or lab experiments </li></ul><ul><li>Deduction: Predicting what should occur based on confirmed body of facts, principles, or beliefs </li></ul>
  10. 10. Some Basic Terms of Research I <ul><li>Sample : Part of a population selected for research </li></ul><ul><li>Random sample: One in which everyone has a chance of being included </li></ul><ul><li>Representative sample : One in which all groups are included. </li></ul><ul><li>Universe: Total population from which sample is drawn </li></ul>
  11. 11. Some Basic Terms of Research II <ul><li>Bias: Use of any technique that fails to elicit a random/representative sample </li></ul><ul><li>Techniques: Instruments used to gather information (observations, interviews, video, tape recording, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Method: Justification for selection of a technique </li></ul><ul><li>Methodology: Overall plan that forms a coherent relation among the methods </li></ul>
  12. 12. How to Develop a Hypothesis: Induction and Deduction
  13. 13. How to Test a Hypothesis
  14. 14. The Phases of Scientific Method <ul><li>Phase 1: Observe Things/Events in Field </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 2: Develop an explanation (hypothesis) </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 3: Gather relevant data </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 4: Evaluate hypothesis with data. </li></ul><ul><li>Phase 5: Repeat procedure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Accept confirmed hypotheses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reject or modify disconfirmed hypotheses </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Scientific Method as Probabilistic <ul><li>Any theory can be tossed as new information come in </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, all theories are probabilistic and none can be stated with finality </li></ul>
  16. 16. A Six-Way Test <ul><li>Background: James Lett, CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) and anthropologist. </li></ul><ul><li>The six-way test goes by the acronym FiLCHeRS, or </li></ul><ul><li>Falsifiability; Logic, Comprehensiveness, Honesty, Replication, and Sufficiency </li></ul>
  17. 17. Falsifiability <ul><li>Does not mean to cook or fudge the data </li></ul><ul><li>The hypothesis must be so stated that if unsupported it is rejected (or falsified) </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, it must specify the conditions under which it is rejected. </li></ul><ul><li>Opposite 1: Broadly stated propositions </li></ul><ul><li>Opposite 2: Use of the multiple out, or what do you say to the Instant Creator? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Logic <ul><li>There are two basic kinds of logic: inductive and deductive </li></ul><ul><li>Inductive: gathering enough facts to lead to a conclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Deductive: Starting at a major premise and reasoning down to a minor premise then a conclusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Lett argues from the deductive. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Logic (Continued) <ul><li>Basic statement: Any argument offered as evidence in support of any claim must be both: </li></ul><ul><li>Valid: follow from accepted proposition </li></ul><ul><li>Of real life </li></ul><ul><li>Of math: e.g. straight line postulate </li></ul><ul><li>Sound: that is, be true </li></ul>
  20. 20. Comprehensiveness <ul><li>Evidence offered in support of any claim must be exhaustive </li></ul><ul><li>All relevant evidence must be considered </li></ul><ul><li>Opposite: Selective presentation of evidence that supports the claim </li></ul><ul><li>Example: politicians, courtroom tactics </li></ul>
  21. 21. Honesty <ul><li>Evidence must be evaluated without either self-deception or intent to deceive </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of temptations toward dishonesty </li></ul><ul><li>Strong incentives such as funding to support pet theories </li></ul><ul><li>Basic fault of advocacy groups, politicians, and lawyers </li></ul><ul><li>Honesty could only lead to better hypotheses--i.e. to better explain facts </li></ul>
  22. 22. Replicability <ul><li>To verify positive results </li></ul><ul><li>the experiment or field research must </li></ul><ul><li>be repeated </li></ul><ul><li>under identical conditions. </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled experiments can be replicated </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropology: Restudies are less controlled </li></ul><ul><li>Restudies haven’t done well </li></ul><ul><li>Lewis v. Redfiield in Tepoztl á n, Mexico </li></ul><ul><li>Freeman v. Mead in Samoa </li></ul>
  23. 23. Sufficiency <ul><li>Evidence must be adequate to support any claim </li></ul><ul><li>Burden of proof is on claimant </li></ul><ul><li>Expert testimony is never adequate (Would you buy Nike because Michael Jordan says to? Or Hanes?) </li></ul><ul><li>Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Welcome Back to the Real World <ul><li>The tests demand a perfect world </li></ul><ul><li>Real world: the field is not a lab </li></ul><ul><li>Homo sapiens have the same hardware </li></ul><ul><li>But individuals and cultures vary </li></ul><ul><li>The compromise </li></ul><ul><li>Careful preparation </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility in the field </li></ul>
  25. 25. Conclusion <ul><li>First aim: to develop generalizations that apply to all societies </li></ul><ul><li>Second aim: to explain the diversity of cultures </li></ul><ul><li>Research must therefore meet rigorous standards, such as Lett’s Six-Way Test </li></ul>

×