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Sociology and Cultural Anthropology

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Different methods and designs are applied by sociologists in the study of society and social behavior. Two of the most popular methods used to carry out sociological research are survey research and observational research. In survey research, questionnaires are administered to large numbers of people. The person in charge of the investigation then carries out data analysis from the surveys to get information about similarities, differences, and trends. The investigator then makes predictions concerning the population under study.

Under observational research, the subject’s reactions are observed directly. This is carried out either in laboratory or in a natural setting. The method is advantageous because the possibility that honest accounts of the experiences will not be given by subjects is reduced. However, this method may not be reliable due to biasness of the subject. This is because sometimes the general public is not represented by volunteer subjects. The philosophical justification for survey as a method in sociological research is that it can be used to gather a large amount of information quickly. It also gives room for subjects under survey to remain unknown and helps to reduce prejudice in the analysis of the outcome. Provided the researcher is very careful, survey as a method of research is highly reliable, especially for statistical studies where a large pool of subjects is required.

Research Method Used in Cultural Anthropology

Anthropology is a social science that involves the study of evolution and cultural practice of human beings. It uses various methods of the collection of information and its analysis. Anthropologists get to know the culture of other people by involving themselves in those cultures and taking part in the lives of the subjects under study; this is also known as ethnology. They may also conduct interviews and carry out written material reviews. From this research, qualitative data that are highly detailed are generated. Besides this, anthropologists may also use quantitative methods in their research which include statistical techniques that help in summarizing information collected in the field research. Under document analysis, anthropologists use multiple techniques of data collection in their research. In some studies, they undertake to review written materials, while in other studies, observations and interviews are used to collect information about people’s culture. Anthropologists may also employ the use of content analysis techniques which help in the reduction of textual material with many details to more manageable data.

According to Bales (1966), ethnology as a method involves researchers immersing themselves in the culture they are studying. Anthropologists make use of observation, photographic records, interviews, and voice recording while performing their research to record information as they are learnning about a culture. Anthropologists usually live within the society where the study is taking place for the duration of the study. During their stay, they will learn about the society’s culture through witnessing or participating in its life. They may also take part in various ceremonies including rituals and listen to stories and legends. Other techniques employed include videotaping local people and taking photographs of costumes worn by them.

The philosophical justification for using ethnology as a method of research is that immersing into a culture for a long period of time enables the researcher to learn more. Also, the people being studied will build their trust in the researcher, which will enhance accuracy of the information. Ethnographies are important as they serve as a historical record of an endangered culture.

Comparison between Sociology and Cultural Anthropology

Sociology and cultural anthropology are similar in the manner that they both study the behavior of human beings. However, the two disciplines differ in several ways. For example, sociology is the study of society and the way they function, while anthropology is the study of human beings. On the other hand, sociologists will have more interest in some topical questions, for example, why some racial groups of people are richer than others, while anthropologists will be more concerned about how societies evolve in the first place.

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