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Thick Description

According to Bogdan & Biklen (2003), almost every single book on qualitative methods during the past three decades includes at least one entry on 'thick description'. The concept of thick description is one of the most significant concepts in anthropological qualitative research. Schwandt (2001) cited Geertz (1973) in his definition of 'thick description', describing it as a process that does not only amass relevant details, but also interprets these, focusing on the circumstances, meanings, intentions, strategies, motivations and so on that define a particular social action (Ponterotto, 2006).

Clifford Geertz remains to be one of the most influential and controversial anthropologists in the past three decades in the United States. Geertz (1973) suggests that thick description is simply ethnography. The ethnographer must collect routine data, which is basically complex in its structural nature, may or may not be superimposed upon one another with irregular patterns. The ethnographer needs to contrive these in order to grasps these complicated concepts before rendering them. Geertz emphasizes on the fact this data is full of transient, shaped behavior, making interpretation particularly taxing. Geertz argues that the ethnographer's job is not gathering lost data and bringing it home, but trying to tell the its story and “reduce the puzzlement” (Geertz, 1973, p.8) surrounding incomplete tales. 'Thick description' is used in a variety of research methods, including both qualitative and quantitative.

Some critics of 'thick description', such as Sidky (2004), maintain that theoretically, thick descriptions are practically useless. They imply that when the ethnographer has failed to do a thorough job, he or she will need to resort to thick description.

Scientific Knowledge

Even scientists who staunchly favor scientific anthropology agree that every individual in human societies has a unique, rich assortment of not only emotions, but also aspirations demanding detail. Beyond this premise, many anthropologists agree that simply observing society does not help the understanding of culture. These anthropologists maintain that anthropology is an empirical social science that entails not only information about humans, gathered through observation, but also intuition and faith. Anthropology has a number of diverse options of scientific research, marking it as substantially distinctive from other disciplines.

Anthropologists begin their research in the same way as other scientists - with a hypothesis. This hypothesis examines the relationship among observed facts. The anthropologist gathers diverse, but relevant, data and tries to come up with a theory based on the correlations formed from the gathered evidence. Occasionally, the anthropologist may even stumble upon new knowledge through scientific examination of known facts (Haviland et al., 2012).

To explain how scientific knowledge differs from other personal, religious or other knowledge, it is important to understand the concept of doctrine. A doctrine or dogma suggests asserting an opinion or belief that an authority has passed down. Usually, this authority is considered indisputable. The most relevant example of the indisputable authority is the creationist doctrine that recounts humans' origins in Holy Scripture on the basis of religious autonomy. Individuals accept them as faith and there exists no room for questioning ...