Ethnography

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Ethnography

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Anthropology is defined, in the most basic terms, as the study of other cultures. This field can subsequently be divided into more specific sects, and contain more precise defining characteristics, but this definition is essentially all that is needed. Anthropology is a science that attempts to look at other cultures and draw conclusions to questions that are raised while studying. An anthropologist is someone who accepts what is presented before them and is driven by an urge to understand each presentation as thoroughly as possible. Once the concept of anthropology is accepted, one must identify the means of reaching the goal of this field. In the sect of social anthropology, this vehicle is known as ethnography. This technique of studying is fundamentally, participant-observation, an attempt at becoming part of a culture in order to understand most fully. It is in this specific method, however, that disputes have arisen. As cut and dry as the definitions I have given may seem, anthropologists have recently become disillusioned with these methods and have ventured into a new form of interpretation, known as reflexivityan analysis of the self within the fieldwork. This new form is, in essence, a breaking of the "rules of anthropology" established by early anthropologists and, similar to discoveries made in the fields of chemistry and biology, reflexivity is necessary in aiding in the advancement of this field, too.

Before attention can be given to the concept of reflexivity and its benefit to anthropology, the "rules of anthropology," mentioned earlier, must be understood. Bronislaw Malinowskis "The subject, Method and Scope of this Enquiry" is a highly renowned account of early anthropolog...

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...ut suggests using ones own role as another level of research to be undertaken.

Anthropology began, and remains, a study of other cultures. The rules of which, defined by Malinowski and his contemporaries, included the traditional dichotomy of Self and Other. Reflexivity involves viewing the self in addition to the people of a different culture and on Self and Self instead of Other. Reflexivity is not a component that Malinowski would have included, in fact he states his opinion on the self within ethnographic work, "he may draw on himself for stimulus. But the two functions are separate, and in actual research they have to be separated both in time and conditions of work"(Malinowski,8). Advances must be made in anthropology and, despite the views of writers of the past, reflexivity has proven to be effective, successfully evolving into the field of anthropology.

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