Cultural anthropology is the study of human society and culture, a sub-field that describes, analyzes, interprets, and explains social and cultural similarities and differences. Cultural anthropology examines cultural diversity of the present and recent past and has the largest membership of the sub-fields. To research and interpret cultural diversity, cultural anthropologists engage in two forms of activity.
Ethnography provides an account of a particular community, society, or culture based on fieldwork. During ethnographic fieldwork, the ethnographer gathers information that they organize, describe, analyze, and interpret to build and present that account. Traditionally, ethnographers have lived in small communities and studied local behavior, values, customs, social life An Artist Portrait (Part Two) - This is the Part Two (and final part) of the true life story as artist written by Frank V. Cahoj for our Weblog. (Part One) An Artist Portrait (Part Two) I give an unbelievable amount of credence to these two early periods in my life: one of everlasting creation, one of analysis and disillusionment. The… , economic activities, politics, and religion.
Since culture generally relates to the way people interact with each other, it is impossible to adequately observe it in a laboratory setting. The firsthand, individual research of regional cultural setting is ethnography. Traditionally, the task of becoming cultural anthropologists has required a field experience in another society. Early ethnographers lived in small-scale societies with simple technologies and economics. Ethnography, therefore, appeared as a research approach in societies with better cultural uniformity and less social differentiation than are found in large, contemporary, industrialized countries. In such non-industrial settings, ethnographers have needed to consider fewer paths of enculturation to understand social life.
Ethnology examines, interprets, analyzes, and compares the results of Ethnography – the information gathered from different societies. Ethnology is basically a synthesis of the work of several ethnographers. It uses this information to compare and contrast and to create generalizations about society and culture. Looking beyond the specific to the more general, ethnologists attempt to identify and explain cultural variations and similarities, test hypotheses, and build theory to improve our understanding of how social and cultural systems work. Social Anthropology is concerned with the cultures and ways of life of all the world’s societies in both the present and recent past – from remote tribal communities to industrialized societies.
Culture and society are not the same thing. While cultures are complexes of learned behavior patterns and perceptions, societies are groups of interacting organisms. People are not the only animals that have societies. Schools of fish, flocks of birds, and hives of bees are societies. In the case of humans, however, societies are groups of individuals who directly or indirectly interact with each other. People in human societies also usually perceive that their society is distinct from other societies in terms of shared traditions and expectations. While human societies and cultures are not the same thing, they are inextricably connected because culture is built and transmitted to others in a society.
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