IB Cultural Anthropology/The Nature of Anthropology/Paradigm of Anthropology

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All disciplines have assumptions. Empirical sciences are data-based and assume that theories can be formulated to explain that data. Empirical sciences also assume that data is neutral- which it is not. A paradigm is a result of these assumptions- it is the existing beliefs, practices, and general perspective of a discipline. The paradigm of a discipline is expressed through various products of the discipline such as laws, theories, generalizations, methods of collecting data, and methods of evaluating data.

Paradigm Shift[edit]

Findings that do not fit within the existing paradigm may cause a paradigm shift may occur. This happened with Einstein’s theory of relativity. It was previously believed that time was constant throughout the universe. Einstein showed that it was not, so the paradigm shifted- now the belief is that time is a dimension like space.

The Paradigm of Cultural Anthropology[edit]

  • Anthropology is comparative.
    • It is comparative synchronically and diachronically.
    • Ethnography is the short term goal of data. Ethnology is the long term goal.
  • Anthropology and culture are holistic.
    • A change of one small aspect of a culture will ripple through to the rest of the culture.
  • Multiple systems and processes for an action.
    • E.g. there are many reasons why different people don’t do the same action of smoking- health, affordability, cosmetic reasons, etc.
  • Emic & Etic
    • To wholly understand a culture, it must be observed through both an emic and etic perspective.
  • Case studies must be made using participant observation.

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