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Introduction to Anthropology

2.5 Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

Introduction to Anthropology2.5 Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis

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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 What Is Anthropology?
    1. Introduction
    2. 1.1 The Study of Humanity, or "Anthropology Is Vast"
    3. 1.2 The Four-Field Approach: Four Approaches within the Guiding Narrative
    4. 1.3 Overcoming Ethnocentrism
    5. 1.4 Western Bias in Our Assumptions about Humanity
    6. 1.5 Holism, Anthropology’s Distinctive Approach
    7. 1.6 Cross-Cultural Comparison and Cultural Relativism
    8. 1.7 Reaching for an Insider’s Point of View
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Bibliography
  3. 2 Methods: Cultural and Archaeological
    1. Introduction
    2. 2.1 Archaeological Research Methods
    3. 2.2 Conservation and Naturalism
    4. 2.3 Ethnography and Ethnology
    5. 2.4 Participant Observation and Interviewing
    6. 2.5 Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
    7. 2.6 Collections
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Bibliography
  4. 3 Culture Concept Theory: Theories of Cultural Change
    1. Introduction
    2. 3.1 The Homeyness of Culture
    3. 3.2 The Winkiness of Culture
    4. 3.3 The Elements of Culture
    5. 3.4 The Aggregates of Culture
    6. 3.5 Modes of Cultural Analysis
    7. 3.6 The Paradoxes of Culture
    8. Key Terms
    9. Summary
    10. Critical Thinking Questions
    11. Bibliography
  5. 4 Biological Evolution and Early Human Evidence
    1. Introduction
    2. 4.1 What Is Biological Anthropology?
    3. 4.2 What’s in a Name? The Science of Taxonomy
    4. 4.3 It’s All in the Genes! The Foundation of Evolution
    5. 4.4 Evolution in Action: Past and Present
    6. 4.5 What Is a Primate?
    7. 4.6 Origin of and Classification of Primates
    8. 4.7 Our Ancient Past: The Earliest Hominins
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Bibliography
  6. 5 The Genus Homo and the Emergence of Us
    1. Introduction
    2. 5.1 Defining the Genus Homo
    3. 5.2 Tools and Brains: Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, and Homo erectus
    4. 5.3 The Emergence of Us: The Archaic Homo
    5. 5.4 Tracking Genomes: Our Human Story Unfolds
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  7. 6 Language and Communication
    1. Introduction
    2. 6.1 The Emergence and Development of Language
    3. 6.2 Language and the Mind
    4. 6.3 Language, Community, and Culture
    5. 6.4 Performativity and Ritual
    6. 6.5 Language and Power
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  8. 7 Work, Life, and Value: Economic Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 7.1 Economies: Two Ways to Study Them
    3. 7.2 Modes of Subsistence
    4. 7.3 Gathering and Hunting
    5. 7.4 Pastoralism
    6. 7.5 Plant Cultivation: Horticulture and Agriculture
    7. 7.6 Exchange, Value, and Consumption
    8. 7.7 Industrialism and Postmodernity
    9. Key Terms
    10. Summary
    11. Critical Thinking Questions
    12. Bibliography
  9. 8 Authority, Decisions, and Power: Political Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 8.1 Colonialism and the Categorization of Political Systems
    3. 8.2 Acephalous Societies: Bands and Tribes
    4. 8.3 Centralized Societies: Chiefdoms and States
    5. 8.4 Modern Nation-States
    6. 8.5 Resistance, Revolution, and Social Movements
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  10. 9 Social Inequalities
    1. Introduction
    2. 9.1 Theories of Inequity and Inequality
    3. 9.2 Systems of Inequality
    4. 9.3 Intersections of Inequality
    5. 9.4 Studying In: Addressing Inequities within Anthropology
    6. Key Terms
    7. Critical Thinking Questions
    8. Bibliography
  11. 10 The Global Impact of Human Migration
    1. Introduction
    2. 10.1 Peopling of the World
    3. 10.2 Early Global Movements and Cultural Hybridity
    4. 10.3 Peasantry and Urbanization
    5. 10.4 Inequality along the Margins
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  12. 11 Forming Family through Kinship
    1. Introduction
    2. 11.1 What Is Kinship?
    3. 11.2 Defining Family and Household
    4. 11.3 Reckoning Kinship across Cultures
    5. 11.4 Marriage and Families across Cultures
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  13. 12 Gender and Sexuality
    1. Introduction
    2. 12.1 Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in Anthropology
    3. 12.2 Performing Gender Categories
    4. 12.3 The Power of Gender: Patriarchy and Matriarchy
    5. 12.4 Sexuality and Queer Anthropology
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  14. 13 Religion and Culture
    1. Introduction
    2. 13.1 What Is Religion?
    3. 13.2 Symbolic and Sacred Space
    4. 13.3 Myth and Religious Doctrine
    5. 13.4 Rituals of Transition and Conformity
    6. 13.5 Other Forms of Religious Practice
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  15. 14 Anthropology of Food
    1. Introduction
    2. 14.1 Food as a Material Artifact
    3. 14.2 A Biocultural Approach to Food
    4. 14.3 Food and Cultural Identity
    5. 14.4 The Globalization of Food
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  16. 15 Anthropology of Media
    1. Introduction
    2. 15.1 Putting the Mass into Media
    3. 15.2 Putting Culture into Media Studies
    4. 15.3 Visual Anthropology and Ethnographic Film
    5. 15.4 Photography, Representation, and Memory
    6. 15.5 News Media, the Public Sphere, and Nationalism
    7. 15.6 Community, Development, and Broadcast Media
    8. 15.7 Broadcasting Modernity and National Identity
    9. 15.8 Digital Media, New Socialities
    10. Key Terms
    11. Summary
    12. Critical Thinking Questions
    13. Bibliography
  17. 16 Art, Music, and Sport
    1. Introduction
    2. 16.1 Anthropology of the Arts
    3. 16.2 Anthropology of Music
    4. 16.3 An Anthropological View of Sport throughout Time
    5. 16.4 Anthropology, Representation, and Performance
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  18. 17 Medical Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 17.1 What Is Medical Anthropology?
    3. 17.2 Ethnomedicine
    4. 17.3 Theories and Methods
    5. 17.4 Applied Medical Anthropology
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  19. 18 Human-Animal Relationship
    1. Introduction
    2. 18.1 Humans and Animals
    3. 18.2 Animals and Subsistence
    4. 18.3 Symbolism and Meaning of Animals
    5. 18.4 Pet-Keeping
    6. 18.5 Animal Industries and the Animal Trade
    7. Key Terms
    8. Summary
    9. Critical Thinking Questions
    10. Bibliography
  20. 19 Indigenous Anthropology
    1. Introduction
    2. 19.1 Indigenous Peoples
    3. 19.2 Colonization and Anthropology
    4. 19.3 Indigenous Agency and Rights
    5. 19.4 Applied and Public Anthropology and Indigenous Peoples
    6. Key Terms
    7. Summary
    8. Critical Thinking Questions
    9. Bibliography
  21. 20 Anthropology on the Ground
    1. Introduction
    2. 20.1 Our Challenging World Today
    3. 20.2 Why Anthropology Matters
    4. 20.3 What Anthropologists Can Do
    5. Key Terms
    6. Summary
    7. Critical Thinking Questions
    8. Bibliography
  22. Index

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify differences between quantitative and qualitative information.
  • Provide an example of how an anthropologist might model research findings.
  • Describe the steps of the scientific method.

Differences between Quantitative and Qualitative Information

Quantitative information is measurable or countable data that can provide insight into research questions. Quantitative information is one of the most direct ways to understand limited, specific questions, such as how often people in a culture perform a certain action or how many times an art form or motif appears in a cultural artifact. Statistics created from quantitative data help researchers understand trends and changes over time. Counts of cultural remains, such as the number and distribution of animal remains found at a campsite, can show how much the campsite was used and what type of animal was being hunted. Statistical comparisons may be made of several different sites that Indigenous peoples used to process food in order to determine the primary purpose of each site.

In cultural research, qualitative data allows anthropologists to understand culture based on more subjective analyses of language, behavior, ritual, symbolism, and interrelationships of people. Qualitative data has the potential for more in-depth responses via open-ended questions, which can be coded and categorized in order to better identify common themes. Qualitative analysis is less about frequency and the number of things and more about a researcher’s subjective insights and understandings. Anthropology and other fields in the social sciences frequently integrate both types of data by using mixed methods. Through the triangulation of data, anthropologists can use both objective and frequency data (for example, survey results) and subjective data (such as observations) to provide a more holistic understanding.

Modeling

Many anthropologists create models to help others visualize and understand their research findings. Models help people understand the relationships between various points of data and can include qualitative elements as well. One very familiar model is a map. Maps are constructed from many thousands of data points projected onto a flat surface to help people understand distances and relationships. Maps are typically two-dimensional, but we are of course all familiar with the three-dimensional version of a world map known as a globe. Maps and globes are built on data points, but they also include qualitative information, such as the colors used to represent various features and the human-assigned names of various geographical features. Other familiar types of models include graphs, calendars, timelines, and charts. GPS is also a significant modeling tool today.

GPS, or the Global Position System, is increasingly used in archaeology. A model of a research site can be created using computer programs and a series of GPS coordinates. Any artifacts found or important features identified within the site can mapped to their exact locations within this model. This type of mapping is incredibly helpful if further work is warranted, making it possible for the researcher to return to the exact site where the original artifacts were found. These types of models also provide construction companies with an understanding of where the most sensitive cultural sites are located so that they may avoid destroying them. Government agencies and tribal governments are now constructing GPS maps of important cultural sites that include a variety of layers. Layering types of data within a landscape allows researchers to easily sort the available data and focus on what is most relevant to a particular question or task.

Wild food plants, water sources, roads and trails, and even individual trees can be documented and mapped with precision. Archaeologists can create complex layered maps of traditional Native landscapes, with original habitations, trails, and resource locations marked. GPS has significant applications in the re-creation of historic periods. By comparing the placements of buildings at various points in the past, GPS models can be created showing how neighborhoods or even whole cities have changed over time. In addition, layers can be created that contain cultural and historic information. These types of models are an important part of efforts to preserve remaining cultural and historic sites and features.

The Science of Anthropology

Anthropology is a science, and as such, anthropologists follow the scientific method. First, an anthropologist forms a research question based on some phenomenon they have encountered. They then construct a testable hypothesis based on their question. To test their hypothesis, they gather data and information. Information can come from one or many sources and can be either quantitative or qualitative in nature. Part of the evaluation might include statistical analyses of the data. The anthropologist then draws a conclusion. Conclusions are rarely 100 percent positive or 100 percent negative; generally, the results are somewhere on a continuum. Most conclusions to the positive will be stated as “likely” to be true. Scholars may also develop methods of testing and retesting their conclusions to make sure that what they think is true is proven true through various means. When a hypothesis is rigorously tested and the results conform with empirical observations of the world, then a theory is considered “likely to be accurate.” Hypotheses are always subject to being disproven or modified as more information is collected.

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