Basic Characteristics of Field Work Method: Fieldwork Tradition in Anthropology

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Fieldwork Tradition in Anthropology

  • Fieldwork is study of people and their culture in their habitat.
  • Characterized by the prolonged residence of investigator, his/her participation in and observation of the society and his/her attempt to understand the inside view of native people and to achieve the holistic view of a social scientist.

Characteristics of Field Work

They determine the perspective and direct theory and models of research.

Following are the characteristics:

  • Culture
  • Holism
  • In-depth studies
  • Chronology
  • Interactive-Reactive Approach
  • Humanistic Perspective
  • Cross-cultural frame of Reference


  • Detailed study of culture
  • Study culture as an entity in itself
  • First-hand information
  • Goes beyond the specific topic
  • Long term participant observation
  • Does not create and investigate experimental situations
  • Study of single community with small population


  • Context of the whole system
  • Critical ethnography employed by many feminists – oppression and exploitation of women in family and society.

In-Depth Studies

  • By living for a longer period
  • Naturalistic observation


  • Anthropologists: Primate culture, sociologists: Modern society
  • Despite this, ethnography still employed by anthropologists irrespective of chronological orientation.

Interactive-Reactive Approach

  • Employ a dynamic form of data collection
  • Enables to adjust the approach, design, and method

Humanistic Perspective

  • Research towards humanistic concerns and values
  • Focus on essence of culture in which people live and experiences.

Cross-Cultural Frame of Reference

Use of previously collected info to understand other cultures and environments.

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