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Sociology and Anthropology: Research Methods

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❶Thus, in Virginia Heyer wrote, "Cultural relativity, to phrase it in starkest abstraction, states the relativity of the part to the whole.

Some exemplary methods

Common research techniques found among both fields
Common problems in applying methods
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During the second term, students will attend the Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Social Research course in the Department of Politics and International Studies. By the end of the course, students will have acquired knowledge of a range of research methods in anthropology.

They will have acquired a critical awareness of the theoretical assumptions, problems and potential misuse of such methods. Through practical exercises and participant observation experience they will have gained an understanding of their own capacities for the collection and recording of ethnographic data. They will have acquired understanding of how to set out a research proposal for example for grant application purposes.

Students will gain a capacity for conceptual and ethical reflection on anthropological research. This grasp of method, epistemology and ethics will enable students to write their dissertations 15, words , and progress towards post-graduate research should they choose to do so. Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules. Year 1 or Year 2 Taught in: The two primary types of research in the field of sociology are quantitative and qualitative research.

Qualitative research involves research practices that more closely overlap with those of cultural anthropology. Among these are such methods as direct participant observation, examination of texts and artifacts, or interpersonal communication with individuals representing the social groups which are being studied.

Sociologists differ among themselves concerning the question as to which form of conducting methodological research should be given the highest priority, and which approach is most relevant to the field. The majority of sociologists have normally assigned greater importance to quantitative rather than qualitative research. The published writings of sociologists in academic journals and the content of the curriculum of sociology programs in universities reflect a general emphasis on quantitative research.

The choices sociologists make concerning which type of research methods to use normally vary according to the specific nature of the research. A sociologist who wishes to develop a broad understanding of the general characteristics of a population will normally pursue quantitative research.

For instance, a sociologist who wished to examine the attitudes of middle-aged people concerning such public controversies such as legalizing same-sex marriage would likely conduct a survey among a large and varied sample of persons between the ages of thirty-five and sixty. An approach to research of this kind would be very helpful towards the task of gathering reliable data concerning the generalized beliefs and values of a particular age demographic, but the information that would be accumulated concerning the impact of such beliefs on the lives of individuals would be very limited.

However, a sociologist who wished to examine the impact of same-sex marriage on the lives of homosexual couples might well engage in research of a more qualitative nature. For example, a set of same-sex couples who are legally married might be chosen as the subjects of study, and the course of their lives and normal day-to-day interaction might be observed over a lengthy period of time. A group of ten married same-sex couples might be observed over a period of fifteen years, and information would be gathered concerning which couples remained married, sought to adopt children or raised children from prior relationships, or the difficulties each couple faced pertaining to widely held negative attitudes towards their relationship in the wider culture.

The field of cultural anthropology normally assigns less importance to the role of statistical research and the accumulation of quantitative data than sociology. Indeed, this lack of emphasis on quantitative research originated in part as a movement in the field of anthropology against the research practices of nineteenth and early twentieth-century anthropologists.

As mentioned, cultural anthropology began to grow as a field before the Industrial Revolution. It was a time when Europeans were coming into ever closer proximity with the native or traditional cultures of many parts of the world. Further, many anthropologists of the era were criticized as elite, aloof intellectuals who were too far removed from the subjects of their study, and who relied too heavily on second hand and often unreliable sources for their information.

Consequently, cultural anthropologists began to develop new, more extensive and more reliable methods of studying diverse sets of cultural arrangements. Cultural anthropology developed as newer generations of anthropologists began to apply such methods as direct participant observation in ways that were largely experiential in nature.

Anthropologists would often spend time among the actual communities they were studying. They would become personally acquainted with individuals from these communities, examine their personal documents and artifacts, and engage in community life.

This contrasts heavily with the practice of sociologists of gathering generalized information regarding large population samples utilizing quantitative methods. Out of the practice of ethnography developed the field of cross-cultural studies, which involves the comparison of ethnographic information gathered from different communities.

Because of its reliance on the methods used by ethnographers, the cross-cultural studies pursued by cultural anthropologists continue to contrast with the general emphasis on the accumulation of quantitative data found among sociologists.

American "cultural anthropologists" focused on the ways people expressed their view of themselves and their world, especially in symbolic forms, such as art and myths. These two approaches frequently converged and generally complemented one another. For example, kinship and leadership function both as symbolic systems and as social institutions. Today almost all socio-cultural anthropologists refer to the work of both sets of predecessors, and have an equal interest in what people do and in what people say.

One means by which anthropologists combat ethnocentrism is to engage in the process of cross-cultural comparison. It is important to test so-called "human universals" against the ethnographic record.

Monogamy, for example, is frequently touted as a universal human trait, yet comparative study shows that it is not. Since , its mission has been to encourage and facilitate worldwide comparative studies of human culture, society, and behavior in the past and present.

The second database, eHRAF Archaeology , covers major archaeological traditions and many more sub-traditions and sites around the world. Comparison across cultures includies the industrialized or de-industrialized West. Cultures in the more traditional standard cross-cultural sample of small scale societies are:. Ethnography dominates socio-cultural anthropology. Nevertheless, many contemporary socio-cultural anthropologists have rejected earlier models of ethnography as treating local cultures as bounded and isolated.

These anthropologists continue to concern themselves with the distinct ways people in different locales experience and understand their lives , but they often argue that one cannot understand these particular ways of life solely from a local perspective; they instead combine a focus on the local with an effort to grasp larger political, economic, and cultural frameworks that impact local lived realities.

Looking at culture as embedded in macro-constructions of a global social order, multi-sited ethnography uses traditional methodology in various locations both spatially and temporally.

Through this methodology, greater insight can be gained when examining the impact of world-systems on local and global communities. Also emerging in multi-sited ethnography are greater interdisciplinary approaches to fieldwork, bringing in methods from cultural studies, media studies, science and technology studies, and others. In multi-sited ethnography, research tracks a subject across spatial and temporal boundaries.

For example, a multi-sited ethnography may follow a "thing," such as a particular commodity, as it is transported through the networks of global capitalism. Multi-sited ethnography may also follow ethnic groups in diaspora , stories or rumours that appear in multiple locations and in multiple time periods, metaphors that appear in multiple ethnographic locations, or the biographies of individual people or groups as they move through space and time.

It may also follow conflicts that transcend boundaries. An example of multi-sited ethnography is Nancy Scheper-Hughes ' work on the international black market for the trade of human organs.

In this research, she follows organs as they are transferred through various legal and illegal networks of capitalism, as well as the rumours and urban legends that circulate in impoverished communities about child kidnapping and organ theft. Sociocultural anthropologists have increasingly turned their investigative eye on to "Western" culture. Also growing more popular are ethnographies of professional communities, such as laboratory researchers, Wall Street investors, law firms, or information technology IT computer employees.

Kinship refers to the anthropological study of the ways in which humans form and maintain relationships with one another, and further, how those relationships operate within and define social organization.

Research in kinship studies often crosses over into different anthropological subfields including medical , feminist , and public anthropology. This is likely due to its fundamental concepts, as articulated by linguistic anthropologist Patrick McConvell:. Kinship is the bedrock of all human societies that we know. All humans recognize fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, husbands and wives, grandparents, cousins, and often many more complex types of relationships in the terminologies that they use.

That is the matrix into which human children are born in the great majority of cases, and their first words are often kinship terms. Throughout history, kinship studies have primarily focused on the topics of marriage, descent, and procreation.

There are stark differences between communities in terms of marital practice and value, leaving much room for anthropological fieldwork. For instance, the Nuer of Sudan and the Brahmans of Nepal practice polygyny , where one man has several marriages to two or more women. The Nyar of India and Nyimba of Tibet and Nepal practice polyandry , where one woman is often married to two or more men. The marital practice found in most cultures, however, is monogamy , where one woman is married to one man.

Anthropologists also study different marital taboos across cultures, most commonly the incest taboo of marriage within sibling and parent-child relationships. It has been found that all cultures have an incest taboo to some degree, but the taboo shifts between cultures when the marriage extends beyond the nuclear family unit. There are similar foundational differences where the act of procreation is concerned.

Although anthropologists have found that biology is acknowledged in every cultural relationship to procreation, there are differences in the ways in which cultures assess the constructs of parenthood.

For example, in the Nuyoo municipality of Oaxaca , Mexico , it is believed that a child can have partible maternity and partible paternity. In this case, a child would have multiple biological mothers in the case that it is born of one woman and then breastfed by another.

A child would have multiple biological fathers in the case that the mother had sex with multiple men, following the commonplace belief in Nuyoo culture that pregnancy must be preceded by sex with multiple men in order have the necessary accumulation of semen.

In the twenty-first century, Western ideas of kinship have evolved beyond the traditional assumptions of the nuclear family, raising anthropological questions of consanguinity, lineage, and normative marital expectation.

The shift can be traced back to the s, with the reassessment of kinship's basic principles offered by Edmund Leach , Rodney Neeham , David Schneider , and others. This shift was progressed further by the emergence of second-wave feminism in the early s, which introduced ideas of martial oppression, sexual autonomy, and domestic subordination.

Other themes that emerged during this time included the frequent comparisons between Eastern and Western kinship systems and the increasing amount of attention paid to anthropologists' own societies, a swift turn from the focus that had traditionally been paid to largely "foreign", non-Western communities.

Kinship studies began to gain mainstream recognition in the late s with the surging popularity of feminist anthropology, particularly with its work related to biological anthropology and the intersectional critique of gender relations. At this time, there was the arrival of " Third World feminism ", a movement that argued kinship studies could not examine the gender relations of developing countries in isolation, and must pay respect to racial and economic nuance as well.

This critique became relevant, for instance, in the anthropological study of Jamaica: Third World feminism aimed to combat this in the early twenty-first century by promoting these categories as coexisting factors. In Jamaica, marriage as an institution is often substituted for a series of partners, as poor women cannot rely on regular financial contributions in a climate of economic instability. In addition, there is a common practice of Jamaican women artificially lightening their skin tones in order to secure economic survival.

These anthropological findings, according to Third World feminism, cannot see gender, racial, or class differences as separate entities, and instead must acknowledge that they interact together to produce unique individual experiences. Kinship studies have also experienced a rise in the interest of reproductive anthropology with the advancement of assisted reproductive technologies ARTs , including in vitro fertilization IVF.

These advancements have led to new dimensions of anthropological research, as they challenge the Western standard of biogenetically based kinship, relatedness, and parenthood.

According to anthropologists Maria C. Inhorn and Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, "ARTs have pluralized notions of relatedness and led to a more dynamic notion of "kinning" namely, kinship as a process, as something under construction, rather than a natural given". ARTs are generally only available to those in the highest income bracket, meaning the infertile poor are inherently devalued in the system.

There have also been issues of reproductive tourism and bodily commodification, as individuals seek economic security through hormonal stimulation and egg harvesting, which are potentially harmful procedures. With IVF, specifically, there have been many questions of embryotic value and the status of life, particularly as it relates to the manufacturing of stem cells, testing, and research.

Current issues in kinship studies, such as adoption, have revealed and challenged the Western cultural disposition towards the genetic, "blood" tie. Kinship, as an anthropological field of inquiry, has been heavily criticized across the discipline. One critique is that, as its inception, the framework of kinship studies was far too structured and formulaic, relying on dense language and stringent rules. Schneider proposes that kinship is not a field that can be applied cross-culturally, as the theory itself relies on European assumptions of normalcy.

He states in the widely circulated book A critique of the study of kinship that "[K]inship has been defined by European social scientists, and European social scientists use their own folk culture as the source of many, if not all of their ways of formulating and understanding the world about them". Polish anthropologist Anna Wierzbicka argues that "mother" and "father" are examples of such fundamental human concepts, and can only be Westernized when conflated with English concepts such as "parent" and "sibling".

A more recent critique of kinship studies is its solipsistic focus on privileged, Western human relations and its promotion of normative ideals of human exceptionalism. In "Critical Kinship Studies", social psychologists Elizabeth Peel and Damien Riggs argue for a move beyond this human-centered framework, opting instead to explore kinship through a "posthumanist" vantage point where anthropologists focus on the intersecting relationships of human animals, non-human animals, technologies and practices.

The role of anthropology in institutions has expanded significantly since the end of the 20th century. The two types of institutions defined in the field of anthropology are total institutions and social institutions. The types and methods of scholarship performed in the anthropology of institutions can take a number of forms. Institutional anthropologists may study the relationship between organizations or between an organization and other parts of society. In all manifestations of institutional anthropology, participant observation is critical to understanding the intricacies of the way an institution works and the consequences of actions taken by individuals within it.

Common considerations taken by anthropologists in studying institutions include the physical location at which a researcher places themselves, as important interactions often take place in private, and the fact that the members of an institution are often being examined in their workplace and may not have much idle time to discuss the details of their everyday endeavors.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the publication, see Cultural Anthropology journal. Archaeological Biological Cultural Linguistic Social.

Actor—network theory Alliance theory Cross-cultural studies Cultural materialism Culture theory Diffusionism Feminism Historical particularism Boasian anthropology Functionalism Interpretive Performance studies Political economy Practice theory Structuralism Post-structuralism Systems theory.

Anthropologists by nationality Anthropology by year Bibliography Journals List of indigenous peoples Organizations. Clifford Geertz and David M. Anthropology of art Cognitive anthropology Anthropology of development Ecological anthropology Economic anthropology Anthropology of gender and sexuality Historical anthropology Kinship and family Legal anthropology Media anthropology Medical anthropology Political anthropology Political Economy Psychological anthropology Public anthropology Anthropology of religion Cyborg anthropology Transpersonal anthropology Urban anthropology Visual anthropology.

Age-area hypothesis Community studies Communitas Cross-cultural studies Cross-cultural psychology Cultural psychology Cyber anthropology Dual inheritance theory Engaged theory Ethnobotany Ethnography Ethnomusicology Ethnozoology Human behavioral ecology Human Relations Area Files Hunter-gatherers Intangible Cultural Heritage Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck's values orientation theory List of important publications in anthropology Nature versus nurture Nomads Poles in mythology Shame society vs Guilt society Sociology Transformation of culture.

Ritual and Community in Higher Education". Annual Review of Anthropology. An Ethnography of Wall Street". A Journal of Reviews.

Sociology and anthropology research methods

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Unit- 1: Anthropological Research Methods and Techniques 9 research. These str uctural pr ocedur es and rules ar e known as is the methodology that differentiates a scientific research from a non-scientific investigation.

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Ethnography is a core modern research method used in Anthropology as well as in other modern social sciences. Ethnography is the case study of one culture, subculture, or micro-culture made a the researcher immersing themself in said culture. Before ethnography, immersive research, the prevailing method was unilineal.

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- H. Russell Bernard, Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches In support of the many and varied methods employed by anthropologists of all stripes, AAA provides links to articles or videos of research methods commonly used by anthropologists. Introduction to anthropological research methodology and techniques in ethnology biological anthropology and archaeology.

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Perhaps this is why ‘methodology’ is so unpopular in anthropology. On the other hand, the freedom to use a wide range of methods and the benefit of being able to cross-check results is a great strength of anthropological research. H. Russell Bernard is director of the Institute for Social Science Research at Arizona State University, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Florida, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.