Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ethnography


Ethnography was initially developed in anthropology in the early twentieth century. It generally involved the researcher living with a group of people for an extended period, perhaps a year or several years, in order to document their distinctive way of life, beliefs and values.

Ethnography has been influenced by a range of methodological and theoretical movements. Within anthropology, it was shaped by German ideas about the distinctive character of history and the human sciences, by Wundt’s folk psychology, and even by positivism. 

Subsequently, in the form of the casestudy approach of the Chicago School, it was also influenced by philosophical pragmatism, while recently Marxism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, structuralism, critical theory, feminism, and poststructuralism have all informed its character.
 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ethics in Fieldwork


Ethics in fieldwork draws on the perspectives of philosophy, law, and psychology to guide moral decisions. Field researchers make ethical decisions whenever they gather, interpret, or present their data. However, ethical practice in fieldwork cannot simply rely on the guidelines for laboratory research.Informed consent has been the core of ethical review. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Symbolic Exchange- View of Jean Baudrillard


Jean Baudrillard developed his analysis of symbolic exchange from a critical reading of Mauss, John K. Galbraith and Thorstein Veblen. Symbolic exchange for Baudrillard was a way to escape the consumer society and the political economy of the sign. 

He demonstrated in his early writings how the code of consumption and the system of needs had completed the system of production. The use value of the commodity provided an ‘‘alibi’’ to exchange value. 

Consumers were even more alienated in their private lives than they were at work. They were unconscious of the process of semiosis that led through their acts of consumption of commodities with their coded differences to the reproduction of the capitalist mode of production. 

The only way out of this system was a return to symbolic exchange where the accumulation of wealth and power was impossible and where exchanges were reciprocal and reversible. 

Baudrillard, J. (1988) Symbolic Exchange and Death.    

Symbolic Exchange- View of Marcel Mauss


Symbolic exchange is the organizing principle, the cellular structure, of the earliest forms of society. The exchanges that take place within and between clans, within and between tribes and between chiefs and other members of the tribe are more than economic exchanges as we know them in modern societies, and their circulation integrates the members of these societies. 

Marcel Mauss conceptualizes these exchanges as a form of gift giving, and the gift is a ‘‘total social phenomenon.’’ They are multi-dimensional- economic, moral, religious, mythological, juridical, political, aesthetic and historical.

Mauss created his concept from the work of nineteenth and early twentieth century anthropologists in Melanesia, Polynesia, and northwest America.He  wanted to demonstrate the social basis for exchanges as a refutation of the utilitarian notion that individual interests were the foundation for the creation of market relations. There was no natural economy that had preceded political economy. Further, while the tribes of the Americas, Africa and Asia seemed so different to Europeans, Mauss wanted to demonstrate through comparative analysis the underlying similarities as well.

Gift giving was obviously an economic phenomenon, although it did not involve the exchange of equivalent values as it does in market economies. The complex structure of the gift made it more difficult for Europeans to see these groups as inferior primitives whose annihilation or assimilation would be of no loss to humanity.


Gift giving also involved a relation with nature and created a balanced reciprocal relation between society and nature. The domination of nature is a modern phenomenon  these tribes lived in nature.


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