Anthropology encompasses a holistic view of a person and their environment by blending sociology, linguistics, biology and psychology into a more complete picture. It embraces an inductive approach to understanding and starts from a cultural perspective. Anthropology is also “comparative” and “cross-cultural”. It is a comparative field in that it examines all societies, ancient and modern; simple and complex. It systematically compares data from different populations and time periods. However, the other social sciences tend to focus on a single society whereas anthropology offers a unique cross-cultural perspective by constantly comparing the customs of one culture with those of others, rethinking what culture means according to the context in which it is studied. Again, this stems from taking an inductive approach to understanding. But what does it mean to take an inductive approach?
Observation begins with specific things – observations or discussion with informants. Based on the accumulation of observation, you may want to build a general idea on that observation – everything is data.
- Inductive reasoning moves from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories.
- Start with specific observations and measures, begin to detect patterns and regularities, formulate some tentative hypotheses that we can explore and finally develop conclusions or theories.
- Inductive reasoning is more open-ended, holistic and exploratory, especially at the beginning.
- Uncover the unexpected activities, intrusions, and interactions that ultimately impact decision making, use and performance.
- Attempts to understand why, not simply what. Attempts to understand the contexts (processes) in which people live and work.