About British Social Anthropology

B. Malinowski (1884-1942)

Fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands during World War I

Wrote Argonauts of the Western Pacific in 1922

Emic perspective is an insider view of culture. Etic perspective is an outsider perspective.

Participant-Observation is a process of fieldwork in which observer learns the language and customs of group that is being represented in published study. The observer lives full-time with group and writes extensive field notes.

Three ideas promoted by British School and adopted by some into academia:

  1. Can’t study a cultural item in isolation or out of context.
  2. Can’t rely on formal informant’s version of worldview. Cultural phenomena must be experienced by studied observer.
  3. The indigenous are not to be labeled savage. All humans react rationally to their physical and social environment. There is an underlying logic behind cultural group phenomena.

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