Ethnography

anthropology

anthropology, classification and analysis of humans and their society, descriptively, culturally, historically, and physically. Its unique contribution to studying the bonds of human social relations has been the distinctive concept of culture. It has also differed from other sciences concerned with human social behavior (especially sociology) in its emphasis on data from nonliterate peoples and archaeological exploration. Emerging as an independent science in the mid-19th cent., anthropology was associated from the beginning with various other emergent sciences, notably biology, geology, linguistics, psychology, and archaeology. Its development is also linked with the philosophical speculations of the Enlightenment about the origins of human society and the sources of myth. A unifying science, anthropology has not lost its connections with any of these branches, but has incorporated all or part of them and often employs their techniques.

Anthropology is divided primarily into physical anthropology and cultural anthropology. Physical anthropology focuses basically on the problems of human evolution, including human paleontology and the study of race and of body build or constitution (somatology). It uses the methods of anthropometry, as well as those of genetics, physiology, and ecology. Cultural anthropology includes archaeology, which studies the material remains of prehistoric and extinct cultures; ethnography, the descriptive study of living cultures; ethnology, which utilizes the data furnished by ethnography, the recording of living cultures, and archaeology, to analyze and compare the various cultures of humanity; social anthropology, which evolves broader generalizations based partly on the findings of the other social sciences; and linguistics, the science of language. Applied anthropology is the practical application of anthropological techniques to areas such as industrial relations and minority-group problems. In Europe the term anthropology usually refers to physical anthropology alone.

See A. L. Kroeber, Anthropology (1948; repr. in 2 vol., 1963); C. Kluckhohn, Mirror for Man (1949, repr. 1963); M. J. Herskovits, Cultural Anthropology (1955, repr. 1963); M. Mead and R. L. Bunzel, ed., The Golden Age of American Anthropology (1960); M. Harris, The Rise of Anthropological Theory (1968); G. M. Foster, Applied Anthropology (1969); Culture, Man, and Nature (1971); M. J. Leaf, Man, Mind, and Science: A History of Anthropology (1979); A. Kuper, The Invention of Primitive Society: Transformations of an Illusion (1988); P. Rosenau, Post-modernism and the Social Sciences: Insights, Inroads, and Intrusions (1992).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Navigators of the Contemporary: Why Ethnography Matters
David A. Westbrook.
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Constructing the Field: Ethnographic Fieldwork in the Contemporary World
Vered Amit.
Routledge, 2000
Journeys through Ethnography: Realistic Accounts of Fieldwork
Annette Lareau; Jeffrey Shultz.
Westview Press, 1996
Objects and Objections of Ethnography
Fames T. Siegel.
Fordham University Press, 2011
Talking Culture: Ethnography and Conversation Analysis
Michael Moerman.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988
Anthropologists in the Field: Cases in Participant Observation
Lynne Hume; Jane Mulcock.
Columbia University Press, 2004
When They Read What We Write: The Politics of Ethnography
Caroline B. Brettell.
Bergin & Garvey, 1993
Ethnography, Linguistics, Narrative Inequality: Toward An Understanding of Voice
Dell Hymes.
Taylor & Francis, 1996
Interpretive Ethnography of Education: At Home and Abroad
George Spindler; Louise Spindler.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1987
Ethnography and Educational Policy: A View across the Americas
Bradley A. U. Levinson; Sandra L. Cade; Ana Padawer; Ana Patricia Elvir.
Praeger, 2002
A Thrice-Told Tale: Feminism, Postmodernism, and Ethnographic Responsibility
Margery Wolf.
Stanford University Press, 1992
Global Media Studies: Ethnographic Perspectives
Patrick D. Murphy; Marwan M. Kraidy.
Routledge, 2003
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