Preview
Preview

Cultural Anthropology and Ethnographic Fieldwork Essay

:: 16 Works Cited
Length: 1792 words (5.1 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document
Need writing help? Check your paper »



- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Cultural Anthropology and Ethnographic Fieldwork


James P. Spradley (1979) described the insider approach to understanding culture as "a quiet revolution" among the social sciences (p. iii). Cultural anthropologists, however, have long emphasized the importance of the ethnographic method, an approach to understanding a different culture through participation, observation, the use of key informants, and interviews. Cultural anthropologists have employed the ethnographic method in an attempt to surmount several formidable cultural questions: How can one understand another's culture? How can culture be qualitatively and quantitatively assessed? What aspects of a culture make it unique and which connect it to other cultures? If ethnographies can provide answers to these difficult questions, then Spradley has correctly identified this method as revolutionary.

Cultures are infinitely complex. Culture, as Spradley (1979) defines it, is "the acquired knowledge that people use to interpret experiences and generate social behavior" (p. 5). Spradley's emphasizes that culture involves the use of knowledge. While some aspects of culture can be neatly arranged into categories and quantified with numbers and statistics, much of culture is encoded in schema, or ways of thinking (Levinson & Ember, 1996, p. 418). In order to accurately understand a culture, one must apply the correct schema and make inferences which parallel those made my natives. Spradley suggests that culture is not merely a cognitive map of beliefs and behaviors that can be objectively charted; rather, it is a set of map-making skills through which cultural behaviors, customs, language, and artifacts must be plotted (p. 7). This definition of culture offers insight into ...


... middle of paper ...


..."Not a Real Fish: The Ethnographer as Insider-Outsider." In P. R. DeVita (Ed.), The Naked Anthropologist: Tales from Around the World (pp. 73-8). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Mead, Margaret. Margaret Mead: Taking Note. (video)

Raybeck, D. (1992). "Getting Below the Surface." In P. R. DeVita (Ed.), The Naked Anthropologist: Tales from Around the World (pp. 73-8). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Co.

Spearman, A. M. (1988). Yoqui: Forest Nomads in a Changing World. Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Spearman, A. M. Fighting the Odds for Cultural Survival. (publishing information was unavailable)

Spradley, J. P. (1979). The Ethnographic Interview. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Pub.

Spradley, J. P. & McCurdy, D. W. (1972). The Cultural Experience: Ethnography in a Complex Society. Chicago: Science Research Associates.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »







This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
Fieldwork in Various Anthropological Schools of Thought Essay - Cultural anthropology is a social science that studies the origins and development of human societies (History World International, 2001). Many theories to explain cultural variations among humans have emerged. As a result, numerous anthropological schools of thought have been established based on these theories since the nineteenth century. These schools of thought encompass the dominant beliefs about culture during a time period and are constantly changing as new knowledge is acquired. As schools of thought develop, ethnographic methods have changed and developed as well....   [tags: Anthropology ]
:: 5 Works Cited
1169 words
(3.3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Anthropology and Gender Essay - Though women have played an integral part in the history of the discipline of anthropology, it was not until the early 1970’s that the field of anthropology and gender, or feminist anthropology emerged. Sex and gender roles have always been a vital part of any ethnographic study, but the contributors of this theory began to address the androcentric nature of anthropology itself. The substantial gap in information concerning the study of women was perceived as a male bias, a prejudice made more apparent because what little women-centered fieldwork was done received insufficient attention from the academic community....   [tags: Feminist Anthropology ]
:: 2 Works Cited
1582 words
(4.5 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Ethnographic Writing and Relationships with Research Subjects Essay - Anthropologists conduct research in order to answer specific questions about a particular group of people and their culture. Most anthropologists use fieldwork to collect their data, which is then interpreted within their ethnographic writing. When collecting their data, anthropologists use many different approaches such as developing relationships with their informants, but do not illustrate these relationships in their actual writing. Anthropologists Claire E. Sterk and Philippe Bourgois are two of the anthropologists that emphasize their relationships and the importance of gaining trust of their informants in their perspective articles studied....   [tags: Anthropology]
:: 4 Works Cited
1397 words
(4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Reflexivity in Ethnographic Research and Writing Essay - Reflexivity in Ethnographic Research and Writing The role of reflexivity in ethnographic research and writing has certain advantages and limits, as it gives the discipline of anthropology another form of interpreting ethnographies. Reflexivity, in terms of work of anthropology, is to insist that anthropologists systematically and rigorously reveal their methodology and themselves as the instrument of data generation. It is the self-consciousness or the work's ability to see itself as a work. There are various styles of reflexivity in ethnographic writing and Dorinne Kondo, Renato Rosaldo, and George Marcus are three anthropologists that influenced the role of reflexivity through their ethn...   [tags: Ethnography Anthropology Essays] 1614 words
(4.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
The Pros and Cons of Ethnographic Reflexivity Essay - The Advantages and Limits of Ethnographic Reflexivity Awareness of writing choices generates an appreciation of the reflexivity of ethnographic research. Reflexivity involves the recognition that an account of reality does not simply mirror reality but rather creates or constitutes as real in the first place whatever it describes. Thus ‘the notion of reflexivity recognizes that texts do not simply and transparently report an independent order of reality. Rather, the texts themselves are implicated in the work of reality-construction (Emerson et....   [tags: Pro Con Essays]
:: 1 Works Cited
847 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Franz Boas Discuss the Contribution of Anthropology Essay - Franz Boas has been considered by many as the "Father of American Anthropology", as he was a pioneer in breaking down the American isolationism, intolerance and misinformation about and biological diversity and linguistics. Born in Minden, Westphalia, Germany, in 1858, from a Jewish family, Boas early thinking was based on the ideals of the 1848 German revolution and followed his parents’ intellectual freedom (Stocking, 1974). However, Boas did not set out with the specific ambition to study human cultures, and after attending the universities of Heidelberg, Bonn and Kiel, in 1881 he earned a PhD....   [tags: Deconstructing, Discrediting, Concept of Race ]
:: 14 Works Cited
1247 words
(3.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on Kula, Malinowski, and Bendict - The field of cultural anthropology studies civilization and humans as members of society. Therefore, anthropology is not an exact science. Research is constantly being conducted and analyzed to expand our knowledge and ideas. Anthropologists have different perspectives on culture and have various ideas about how research should be conducted as well. More importantly, anthropologists have different theoretical ideas based on their approach to research and their findings. Some anthropologists who formed their theories a century ago are still an important part of anthropological thought today....   [tags: Anthropology]
:: 3 Works Cited
1237 words
(3.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on The Origns of The Species by Charles Darwin - The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary defines cultural anthropology as the anthropology that deals with “human culture [especially] with respect to social structure, language, law, politics, religion, magic, art, and technology” (1998:282). Anthropology, when broken down, simply means the study of man (anthropos: man and ology: study). The word culture comes from the Latin word “colere,” which means to cultivate, or to worship. When you understand the meaning of the word, it provides you with a better understanding of what the word represents....   [tags: cultural anthropology, determinism, culture]
:: 17 Works Cited
2790 words
(8 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
Anthropology Essay - Anthropology Anthropology what a vulnerable observer you are. You may well have to jump into the arms of the scientists if you are going to try to keep your grass hut at the academy. -- Ruth Behar Debates on the role the reflexive plague the field of cultural anthropology as postmodern critics join the bandwagon attempting to claim authority in this dubiously recognized discipline. In the borderline realm between the sciences and humanities, cultural anthropology has tried to find a niche in which it can comfortably rest....   [tags: Anthropologist Culture Essays] 1331 words
(3.8 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Overlap in the Theories of Chagnon and Morgan Essay - Cultural anthropology is defined as a branch of anthropology deals with human culture, especially in respect to social structure, language, law, politics, religion, magic, art, and technology (“Defining Anthropology”). In this essay, I will talk of the lives of two very prominent anthropologists. The first is Lewis Henry Morgan who was active in the late 1800s and second, the controversial anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon who started his work in the 1960s. Even with the large gap in time, quite a few of their ideologies and theories do overlap....   [tags: Cultural Anthropology, Anthropologists]
:: 1 Works Cited
1132 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]