Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Concept of Research in Anthropology

Research is the most essential input in Anthropology.It is characterized by empiricism.The first hand learning from living people themselves constitutes fieldwork.It involves the direct interaction between the fieldworker and his subjects.The tasks of fieldworker are noting,recording and reporting the culture of the people and their society. The manifold tasks of the field worker includes learning what information in society is needed for his social science.Learning from persons in society what social role as an observer will permit him to get from them. Accommodating himself in that role- getting in-into the situation itself,staying-in surviving in his role as an observer and easing out leaving the situation undamaged and with himself unhurt,free to report ,to turn the information into data for a contribution to his social structure.

Till the end of 19th century not a single social anthropologist had conducted fieldwork besides Morgan's study of  Iroquios.However it had become apparent that if socio-cultural anthropology had to advance,anthropologists would have to conduct fieldwork and make their own direct observations and study.Franz Boas initiated fieldwork expeditions in USA.Shortly afterwards in 1895-99 A Haddon organized Torres Strait expedition from Cambridge.While Rivers worked among the Todas of south India and later among Pacific Islanders,Seligman worked in Melanesia,among Veddas of Ceylon and later in Sudan.

Gradually two important and interconnected developments began to take place.Anthropology became more and more whole time professional study and field experience came to be regarded as an essential part of anthropological training.Studies of primitive societies then started increasingly more intensive.The most important of these was A R Radcliffe Brown's study of the Andaman Islanders in 1906-08.His fieldwork was the first prolonged study for a duration of two years.He was the first social anthropologist to investigate sociological theories in a primitive society. The 20th century saw professionalism in anthropological fieldwork methods and techniques.A leader in this movement was Bronislaw Malinowski who conducted extensive fieldwork.

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