Article

Ethnography

John L. Jackson

in Anthropology

ISBN: 9780199766567
Published online January 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199766567-0001
Ethnography

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Ethnography is a term that often is employed to describe both a recognizable literary genre within the social sciences (writings that attempt to holistically capture people’s cultural beliefs/practices) and a brand of qualitative fieldwork that produces such social scientific accounts (the collecting of sociocultural data based on long-term, face-to-face interactions). Anthropology’s disciplinary emphasis on ethnography is still considered one of its most distinctive features. Even in an age when human genomics and statistical analyses of massive data sets are popularly considered, in some circles, as more compellingly “scientific” and “objective” techniques for analyzing social life, ethnographic research and writing have continued to occupy a central place in anthropology’s methodological toolkit, a means of constructing nuanced and detailed descriptions of people’s cultural worlds. Ethnography has a long and robust history in the discipline, but it is not a concept without controversy or conflicting characterizations. Moreover, anthropology is far from the only discipline with a stake in the definition and future of ethnography, and the term morphs (in big and small ways) as it travels across traditionally disciplinary dividing lines—and even well beyond the academy.

Article.  8732 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology ; Human Evolution ; Medical Anthropology ; Physical Anthropology ; Social and Cultural Anthropology

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