Essay on Etic vs. Emic Approaches in Anthropology

Words: 1690
Pages: 7

Adrian Simons-Wilson

Working in the field as a cultural anthropologist requires participant observation, interviews, and observation. (Knight) The etic and emic-orientated styles are two different styles that applied anthropologists use in their field work. The etic-orientated approach is a perspective that in ethnography uses concepts and categories for the anthropologists culture to describe another culture. (Ferraro/Andretta) The emic-orientated approach is a viewpoint in ethnography that uses the concepts and categories that are relevant and meaningful to the culture under analysis (Ferraro/Andreatta). There has been much debate on whether the etic or emic-orientated techniques of research should be used in the field. Cultural
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This is made clear by him stating he will not be involving himself in any way, as far as food is concerned, with the !Kung. I am not sure if he was able to gain subsistent economy of hunting and gathering of the !Kung because it was never mentioned later in the article. He gained further knowledge none the less by emic techniques. “The Christmas ox was to be my way of saying thank you for the cooperation of the past year...” (Lee) Lee is referring to the ox he bought for the !Kung for Christmas. The !Kung called the ox weak, and the meat useless. This was obvious not true though and Lee became very confused and hurt by their words and the situation. After talking to villagers through emic techniques he discovered; “There are no totally generous acts. All “acts” have an element of calculation…” (Lee) Lee’s gift of the ox was what the Bushmen do for each other every other day and him doing it once does not make up for other times he never presented meat to the !Kung. The !Kung do this as to teach one humility. The anthropologist came in with an etic approach only to use an emic one to understand the culture further. Etic and emic approaches are