Fieldwork in Various Anthropological Schools of Thought

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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. Fieldwork is an ethnographic method that has been implemented in all anthropological schools of thought. It involves gathering data and information about a specific culture by observing and interacting within the society’s natural environment (History World International, 2001). Cultural evolutionists, historical anthropologists, and functionalists have all used various approaches and incorporated fieldwork differently into their school of thought. During the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer both developed theories of biological evolution that were accepted by scholars in Britain and America (McGee & Warms, 2008). These theories were applied to cultural studies and the anthropological school of cultural evolution was developed. The dominate belief was that all cultures develop in a universal, ongoing sequence from primitive to complex, known as unilineal evolution (McGee & Warms, 2008). Therefore, it was thought that a more primitive society could be studied to learn about the evolutionary history of an advanced culture. This was known as the comparative method (McGee & Warms, 2008). Consequently, fieldwork was virtually unnecessary. Ma... ... middle of paper ... .... Each time becoming more efficient in helping anthropologists gaining insight into the new theories and knowledge that will be attained. Works Cited History World International. (2001). The international history project: Anthropology. Retrieved from http://history-world.org/anthropology.htm Hoey, B.A. (2011). What is ethnography? Retrieved from http://www.brianhoey.com/General%20Site/general_defn-ethnography.htm McGee, R.J., & Warms, R.L. (2008). Anthropological theory: An introductory history (4th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill. Radcliffe-Brown, A.R. (1968). In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Retrieved from http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Alfred_Reginald_Radcliffe-Brown.aspx Tooker, E. (1992). Lewis H. Morgan and his contemporaries. American anthropologist, 94, 357- 375. http://www.aaanet.org/sections/gad/history/051tooker.pdf

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