Comparison Of Interviewing With Two Other Data Gathering Methods

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Comparison Of Interviewing With Two Other Data Gathering Methods

Comparison Of Interviewing With Two Other Data Gathering Methods


The various ways anthropologists conduct research in naturalistic settings, or in the field, are called field methods. They include participation in social life and various forms of observation. Anthropology relies on field methods as its ultimate source of information. Research in the field, known as fieldwork, involves collecting primary data on humans, other primates, and the objects and processes relevant to their lives. Through further examination, analysis, and comparison in library, laboratory, or office settings, researchers produce the discipline's general principles and theoretical advances.

Various field methods are used, depending on the data available, to illuminate a chosen problem. The diverse range of interests in anthropology is usually represented in the North American tradition by reference to its four subfields, namely, physical or biological anthropology; archaeology; sociocultural anthropology, also known as cultural or social anthropology or ethnology; and linguistic anthropology. There is, however, significant overlap in the kinds of data, and therefore the field methods, used in each of the subfields.

Methods of the Four Subfields

Biological Anthropology

Physical or biological anthropology makes use of field methods combined with laboratory work to understand aspects of humankind as a biological species. The place of humans in nature, their anatomy, physiology, evolution, similarities and differences with related species, physical adaptations to various environments, and biological diversity are all topics of interest to biological anthropology and are studied in the field.

Biological studies of deceased individuals and past groups make use of archaeological techniques to acquire fossil, bone, and other tissue samples and record the context in which they are found. Genetic and medical studies use blood, other physical samples, and anthropometric data, such as weight and height, collected from living or deceased individuals. Ethological or animal behavior studies of nonhuman primates make use of social observation and limited participation in animal groups.


Archaeological anthropology uses field methods to understand all aspects of the human past, with particular emphasis on what can be learned from remaining material culture, including artifacts and stratigraphic contexts. Field archaeologists conduct landscape surveys and sampling to locate sites of past human activity and identify patterns of occupation of the landscape. They conduct controlled excavations to collect artifacts and human remains, from which they assemble detailed data about particular sites.

In ethnoarchaeology, living people are observed and joined by means of participant-observation and conversation in order to learn how ...
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