Question 1: What makes the discipline of anthropology qualitative in nature?
Anthropology delves into the complexities of human societies, with a holistic approach to their culture and development. In doing so, the anthropological researcher ethically focuses on all human aspects and favours an approach that is centred on collecting and analysing data which is mostly non-numerical and rich in accumulative detail. Unlike in other scientific disciplines which favour quantitative research methods, anthropological researchers prefer using participant-observation techniques, as well as an emic approach in order to gain insight into the lives of the people being studied.
STUDY UNIT 2
Question 2: Identify the three paradigmatic styles of ethnography and briefly outline the key components of each.
The holistic paradigm is separated into four distinct schools of thought, namely universalism, particularism, structuralism and functionalism. Universalism looks at a society’s history over time in order to assess its development, which in turn allows the researcher to find similarities and make comparisons across various cultures. The primary focus of particularism is on the local or ancestral heritage of culture through the generations. Structuralism emphasises the scientific aspects of culture and views the cultural dynamic as a series of cause-and-effect relationships between the various elements which comprise the system. The functionalist school of thought highlights the seven basic biological human needs as the motivation for every aspect of culture in a society. As with the other distinctions of the holistic paradigm, functionalism also encompasses the idea of researching the culture as a whole, however, it places emphasis o...
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...ensuing events. If we were to attempt to conduct anthropological research that would yield results that are completely devoid of subjectivity, we would need to remove the human element of our research and it would be better conducted by artificial intelligence. This, however, goes against what we believe anthropology stands for. It is the humanistic elements and the human perspective that allows us to truly connect to other cultures and to gain insight into the various elements that build these societies. Nancy Scheper-Hughes made an ethical decision based on her own moral principles whilst taking into consideration not her own well-being, but that of the people she was researching. I find her actions admirable, but I also recognise the dangers associated with these actions and I believe that it is important to consider one’s one well-being when conducting fieldwork.
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