Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview
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J. Mayone Stycos

THE SOCIAL sciences may be viewed as ranging on a continuum where demography and cultural anthropology fall toward the two extremes, with sociology placed somewhere in between. Demography has its historic roots in economics, statistics, and biology and has emphasized the statistical analysis of vital events (births, deaths, and population movements), in the light of broad biological and social characteristics (age, marital status, occupation, residence, race, etc.). It has traditionally relied upon census and vital statistics data. Cultural anthropology has its roots in archeology, ethnology, and history and has emphasized the non-quantitative analysis of the total social system. It has ordinarily relied on the data collection of individuals studying in small, preliterate communities for extended periods of time. Sociology has occupied a middle position, employing techniques and data similar to both these fields, but more recently has tended to rely increasingly on the sample survey.

The growing focus of attention of the social sciences on the underdeveloped areas of the world is accelerating convergence in both the theory and the method of the various disciplines. The anthropologist finds the analysis of complex civilizations not entirely amenable to traditional small-community-centered techniques, and he increasingly utilizes data and methods usually associated with demography and sociology.1

Demographers have found themselves handicapped by the absence or deficiency of census data and vital statistics in underdeveloped countries and have been turning to techniques usually associated with the other two disciplines. Moreover, partly as a result of the recent failure to predict rapid population gains in Western society and a growing suspicion that Western demographic history may offer few sound bases for predic

An original contribution, prepared for this volume.
See, e.g., Raymond Firth ( 1954) and Audrey Richards ( 1938).


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Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques
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