System of methods of social anthropology, general scientific...

System of methods of social anthropology

The scientific method is a method of research, a set of techniques or operations aimed at obtaining and substantiating scientific knowledge. Its task is to provide the most effective process of obtaining objective knowledge about that area of ​​reality that is being investigated. The French philosopher R. Descartes clearly demonstrated the importance of the scientific method: "It is better not to think about finding any truths whatsoever, than to do it without any method, for it is absolutely certain that indiscriminate occupations and dark philosophies darken the natural light and dazzle mind .

It is advisable to separate the theory of the method & quot ;, i.e. knowledge of the researcher about how, by what algorithm the particular scientific problem or problem is solved, and the "practice of the method" I.e. implementation of this kind of knowledge in practice. In other words, even the most reliable method can be discredited if the researcher makes mistakes or negligence in its practical implementation.

The theory and method are closely interrelated. The theory, reflecting reality, is transformed into a method by formulating the principles, rules and so-called following from it. The main differences between theory and method:

a) the theory is the result of previous research activity, the method is the starting point and the premise of the subsequent scientific research;

b) the main functions of the theory are explanation and prediction (for the purpose of finding the truth, laws, causes, etc.), the method is the regulation and orientation of cognitive activity;

c) theory - scientific knowledge ; method - a set of regulatory further knowledge: rules, regulations, algorithms;

d) The theory is aimed at solving a scientific problem, the method is to identify the methods and mechanisms of such a solution.

In order to perform a methodological function, theoretical abstractions must be transformed from the explanatory provisions of the theory into the regulatory principles of the method: requirements, prescriptions, settings.

The system of research methods, which social and cultural anthropologists address, can be divided into several groups:

• general philosophical methods relating to any science;

• general scientific methods with an interdisciplinary field of application, used in all or most sciences;

• Private-science methods that operate within a particular branch of social and humanitarian knowledge; as a rule, this is a concretization of the general scientific method in relation to the needs of social anthropology.

General scientific methods in socio-anthropological research.

Three levels are distinguished in the structure of general scientific methods: empirical, theoretical and general.

Empirical level of scientific knowledge is a direct investigation of sensuously perceived objects. Theoretical level of scientific research is the disclosure of the essence of phenomena, the identification of laws on the rational (logical) stage of cognition. The general level characterizes the logic of rational thinking chosen by the anthropologist at both the theoretical and the empirical levels of research.

Consider the methods of empirical research.

Observation - a purposeful study of the object of investigation (social group, personality, people, culture), based on the data of the sense organs: sensations, perceptions, representations. Observation is not just a passive contemplation of the subjects studied; it is active and involves a special preliminary organization of its objects, which provides control over their "behavior."

Observation can be either direct with the help of the sense organs, or mediated by various instruments and technical devices; photo- and video camera, dictophone, etc. The main requirements for scientific observation:

- unambiguous design;

- the presence of a system of methods and techniques;

objectivity, i.e. the possibility of control by either repeated observation, or by other methods (for example, social experiment);

- an adequate interpretation of its results: transcripts, analysis of photo and video recordings, etc.

Special difficulty is observed in social anthropology, where its results largely depend on the personality of the observer, his life attitudes and principles, on his interested attitude to the subject. The included observation forms the basis of the most important level of empirical research of anthropologist - field research. Thus, modern British anthropologist P. Harvey emphasizes: "British social anthropology is traditionally proud of its empirical tradition, focusing on long-term field studies .

Field research. Ethnography is often characterized as a method based on included observation. Through field research, anthropologists "directly participate in people's everyday activities, watching how they eat, argue, dance, listen to their usual or worried conversations and gradually begin to live just like them, and understand life from their point of view." .

Field research involves studying a group of people (community) in the process of their daily existence, in the process of a specific socio-cultural existence. Depending on the purpose of the scientific search, the types of field research are distinguished: search , which is mainly descriptive or descriptive; analytical (i diagnostic ), aimed at determining the state or changes of the object; the experimental investigation is connected with the verification of the hypotheses put forward.

As a rule, in field studies, the observer mixes with the group and carries out the included observation, and some members of the group give him explanations and behave in the role of observer participants.

Experiment - active and purposeful interference in the course of the studied process, changing the object or its reproduction in specially created and controlled conditions. In the course of the experiment, the object under study is actually isolated from the side effects that obscure its essence, and is represented in the "pure form".

Comparison - revealing the similarities or differences of objects (or stages of development of the same object) on the grounds essential for this consideration.

The outstanding role of this method in the system of anthropological research was drawn to the attention of the outstanding scholar of primitive cultures M. Meade, arguing that "anthropology is a comparative science." We draw conclusions by comparing the actions of people in different cultures. Even specially send students to the environment of exotic peoples, where they see sharply different from our customs, and sometimes so that, no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to impose the patterns observed on the well-known in your native culture .

Description - fixing the results of experience, observation or experiment - with the help of certain systems of signs adopted in science: texts, graphs, figures, diagrams, etc. In social anthropology a particularly important role is played by a thorough and detailed description at the stage of field research.

Measurement - Find the numerical value of the measured value in the accepted units using the appropriate instruments and tools.

It should be emphasized that the methods of empirical research are never implemented "blindly", but are always "theoretically loaded", guided by certain conceptual ideas. So, before something is observed, preliminary theoretical ideas are needed about what this "something" is. is.

Expert opinion

"In social anthropology has a long tradition sociohistorical experiment, the essence of which - in the historical reconstruction of tools of work, life, social relations. Thus, at one time the German scientist A. A. Rode (1682-1724) produced and tested a replica (modern repetition) of the flint ax, and his compatriot J. von Medlen (1659-1743) reconstructed the ancient ceramics of Northern Germany. In 1922, settlements of the Stone and Bronze Ages were reconstructed in Switzerland on the shores of Lake Constance, and since 1936 the experimenters have been investigating various archaic economic processes: they live in ancient houses, cook food, hunt and cultivate the land with the help of ancient tools.

Experiments play a special role in ethnomethodology. Her experiments are paradoxical and aim to put the partner in an extreme situation and thus to find out the hidden reactions. In one experiment, the founder of ethnomethodology G. Garfinkel (1917-2011) students at the request of the experimenter, having eaten at home, did not thank their parents, and paid money with them. The aim of the experimenter is to find out the reaction of the parents who were taken aback. Once in an unusual situation, they discovered those hidden motives in the subconscious mind that formed their behavior .

Let's characterize some methods of theoretical knowledge.

Formalization - displaying meaningful knowledge in sign-symbolic form. The advantage of formalization is that it is possible to perform logical operations on formulas of artificial languages, to obtain new formulas and relations from them; Operations with judgments about objects are replaced by actions with signs and symbols. The application of this method in social anthropology is possible when it comes to symbols, linguistic analysis, etc. In particular, this method is actively used in cognitive anthropology , where a rigorous formalized method of field research is developed.

A hypothetical deductive method is a method of scientific knowledge, the essence of which is to create a system of deductively connected hypotheses from which statements about empirical facts are deduced.

The ascent from the abstract to the concrete - the movement of scientific thought from the initial abstraction (one-sided, incomplete knowledge) through the deepening and widening of knowledge to the result - holistic reproduction in the theory of the object under study. Thus, the ascent from the abstract idea of ​​evolution made it possible to formulate conceptual concepts of social development in various anthropological schools of evolutionism and neo-evolutionism.

Among the general methods and methods of research, the following can be distinguished.

Analysis - the actual or mental separation of the object into its component parts, and synthesis - their unification into a single organic whole; the result of synthesis is a new, previously unknown knowledge. The analysis method requires taking into account that in each specific case there is a limit of the object's division , after which a different world of properties and regularities begins (depending on the level of social systems under study: genus, tribe, or individual, or artifact and m.).

A variety of analysis is the division of classes of objects into subclasses - their classification and periodization. In this case, the subject of analysis is not a separate object, but a class of objects. The method is actively used, for example, in diffusionism in the classification of cultural objects when they are distributed among cultural circles.

Abstraction is the process of mental abstraction from a number of properties and relations of the phenomenon under study with the simultaneous isolation of properties of interest to the researcher. As a result of this process, abstract objects - as separate concepts and categories ("tribe", "cultural circle", "artifact", etc.), as well as a system of concepts and categories. Developing, science, including social anthropology, goes back from one level of abstraction to another, higher.

Generalization - the process of establishing common properties and attributes of objects and fixing them in the general concepts of science. The limit of generalization is the philosophical categories (as the most common, universal), which do not have a generic concept and therefore they can not be generalized (that is, to find a more general concept). The operation opposite to generalization is instantiation , i.e. the identification of a particular object, along with general, special and singular features. In the logical aspect, the operation opposite to the generalization of a concept is its restriction, i.e. transition from gender to sight. So, the extremely general concept of "culture" is specified for historical periods ("archaic", "modern" cultures), for specific subjects (culture of a specific tribe or other social community), etc.

Idealization is a mental procedure, close in content to abstraction and associated with the formation of abstract (idealized) objects that are in principle not feasible in reality ("dot", "ideal gas", etc.). ). In developed scientific theories, it is usually not the individual idealized objects and their properties that are considered, but the integral systems of idealized objects and their structures.

Deduction is the ascent of the process of cognition from the general to the individual, bringing the individual cultural phenomenon under a general pattern. Induction - the movement of thought from the individual (experience, facts) to the general (their generalization in the conclusions). These are mutually complementary directions of scientific thinking.

L. Radcliffe-Brown emphasizes the special role of the inductive method in social anthropology: "The inductive method is based on the postulate that all phenomena are subject to natural law, as a result of which it is possible to open and prove general laws by means of logical procedures; The latter are general - i.e. which have more or less degree of community - statements, each of which relates to a certain category of facts or events ... We have to apply these methods to studying the phenomena of culture, or civilization: law, morality, art, language and all sorts of social institutions. " .

Analogy (Greek analogia - correspondence, similarity) - transfer of knowledge obtained from consideration of an object ("model") to another less studied and a less accessible object for exploration.

Simulation . The model (from Latin modulus - the measure, the sample, the norm) is the analog of the original as a certain fragment of reality, the product of human culture, etc. This analogue serves as a kind of "representative" original in cognition and serves to expand knowledge about the original. In social anthropology, ideal modeling is most often realized, much less often mathematical.

System Approach - collection of scientific methodological guidelines, which are based on examination objects like systems This approach orients anthropology disclosure integrity emerging object. , to detect multiple types of connections of a complex object and bringing them into a single theoretical picture for analysis of system qualities, that are not like the individual elements of the system, and at the subsystems considered individually.

Structured-functional method is focused on revealing in their integral systems their structure - a set of stable relationships and relationships between its elements and their functions. In British social anthropology, this method was actively used in the cultural and anthropological functionalism of B. Malinowski and the structural functionalism of A. Radcliffe-Brown, in American sociology and cultural anthropology he was actively used by T. Parsons and R. Merton.

Students should pay special attention to the complementarity of many scientific methods. Such their nature is conditioned by the objective contradiction of the surrounding world, which can be adequately disclosed only with the help of methods mutually complementing each other. Therefore, they often say, for example, about a single analytical-synthetic method, about the complementarity of historical and logical methods, abstraction and concretization.

The complementary meaning of the methods of social anthropology is specially emphasized by the representative of psychological anthropology J. Devereaux: "Sociocultural and psycho-psychoanalytic explanations are in complementary relations to each other. Each phenomenon must be explained in its entirety in two ways ("double rationale") .

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