Re: Naive question

Shannon Adams (
Mon, 09 Dec 1996 09:38:17 -0800

Ted wrote:
> katherine petrie ( wrote:
> : Ted ( wrote:
> : ...
> : > In cultural anthro, under what sort of circumstances would an 'emic'
> : > description or analysis be preferable to an 'etic' description or
> : > analysis, assuming both were available?
> :
> : What is this, take-home final exam time? ;^)
> Nope. Actually, I'm studying anthro entirely on my own, in my free time,
> gearing up for a full-time program. Like I said, I have no background,
> but I would like to get into the field. No take-home finals; personal
> interest. I hope you don't mind.
> : One way to get started is to ask yourself: in what circumstances would
> : *you* find an 'emic' or 'etic' analysis of your life preferable?
> Rrr... I was asking about cultural anthro, not about my personal life.
> But, if you want me to answer, I've always been better served by analyses
> which might be called 'etic'; i.e. analyses (made by myself or others)
> which stress the actual situation I'm in rather than how I _feel_ about
> the situation. The few times I've taken an 'emic' approach, whether
> deliberately or unwittingly, I've generally 'frozen up', and found myself
> unwilling or unable to act.
> So, in my personal life, an 'etic' analysis is preferable. So, in
> cultural anthro (to restate the question), is there _any_ circumstance
> under which an 'emic' approach is preferable to an 'etic' approach?
> BTW, I'm not trying to make a point. I'm asking. I'm honestly confused
> about these terms. Any answers would be most appreciated.
> Ted

I was always taught that both should appear in the same work (with a
leaning toward the emic). Emic perspective does not automatically
assume an emotional perspective. Instead it assumes that the author
attempts to describe the culture, ideology, behavior from a native
perspective (instead of social science).