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Ethnography - Book Report/Review Example

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Before understanding the influence of an anthropologist's personal background and subjective experience in fieldwork on his/her ethnographic writing, let us discuss the meaning of ethnography and its technique. The research method of studying intensively a small social collectivity over a period of time by joining it and participating in its activities is known as ethnography or field research…
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Ethnography Book Report/Review
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"Ethnography"

Download file to see previous pages Researcher uses scientific method in anthropological studies, that is, one requires taking a detached, impersonal and dispassionate view towards the phenomena being studied. Objectivity exists when an observation is uninfluenced by one's personal biases, prejudices, beliefs or values. Social scientists are committed to investigating, analyzing, and describing what is, not what they think should be. However, when one begins to consider oneself, one's friends, one's entire style of life etc. objectivity becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Studies have indicated that there is a definite tendency of people to see what they want to see or what they expect to see, or what they have been conditioned to see within their cultural context.
Here we should be clear that value-judgement and value-interpretation are two different perspectives. As social scientists, anthropologists should avoid making ad hoc, personal value-judgments on social phenomena. The point of value-interpretation is to establish the values towards which an activity is directed; it is not to judge such activities as either good or bad.
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In anthropology, value-freedom has a variety of meanings: (1) anthropologists can successfully exclude ideological or non-scientific assumptions from research; (2) anthropologists should not make evaluative judgments about empirical evidence; (3) value-judgments should be restricted to the anthropologist's area of technical competence; (4) anthropologists are indifferent to the moral implications of their research; (5) anthropologists should make their own values open and clear; (6) anthropologists should refrain from advocating particular values.
The philosophical treatment of values is part of ethics, political philosophy and aesthetics. The problems raised have reached no agreed solution and the answers offered range from the timeless metaphysical status awarded value by Platonism to the dismissal of questions of value as meaningless and indiscussable. This is not to dismiss philosophical analysis. Nihilism and relativism about values are de facto untenable. At the least philosophy has disposed of many plausible and slippier errors and value. Perhaps a philosophy which engaged itself directly with the data of anthropology, sociology and psychology can do more. In all these disciplines philosophical as well as factual questions about values are found to be inescapable and fundamental.
It is also contended that those who plead on behalf of value-free anthropology are not sure that anything fruitful could be achieved by it. True, the loftiest motives might produce the most sterile research, while idle curiosity might result in challenging findings. But this does not confirm that value-free research is great since the other way round can also be true. What one can ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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