Cultural anthropology –Background
Cultural anthropology is a scientific study focusing on the study and analysis of cultural variation among people across the world. On the contrary social anthropology perceives cultural diversities as a part of the anthropological constant.
Cultural Anthropology methodology in fieldwork includes Participant observation, Ethnography, Cross-cultural comparison and Multi-sited ethnography.
The theoretical foundation of cultural anthropology is based on cultural relativism. It is a theory that was established by Franz Boas in 1887. He stated that “civilization is not absolute but is relative”; he states further “our ideas and beliefs are correct fact as far as our civilization goes”.
Cultural relativism involves specific epistemological and methodological claims. Whether or not these claims require a specific ethical stance is a matter of debate. This principle should not be confused with moral relativism. (Franz Boas ,1963) defines culture as “the totality of the mental and physical reactions and activities that characterize the behavior of the individuals composing a social group collectively and individually in relation to their natural environment, to other groups, to members of the group itself, and of each individual to himself.”
Anthropology is considered to be the study of whole human conditions hence it is holistic. Holism is the concept where all the attributes of a given system which might be physical, biological, and other factors cannot be evaluated by its elementary parts alone. Instead, the whole system determines an important way to decide how the elementary parts behave. Holistic anthropology compares data from different areas of populations and time periods, thus evaluating and formulating the beliefs.