Re: Naive question

Shannon Adams (
Mon, 16 Dec 1996 08:42:24 -0800

Fcattus wrote:
> The problem with "getting inside the head of an informant" for an emic
> analysis is that it is virtually impossible! (Look at the difficulty even
> in intense psychotherapy) And what is IN there may be confused, deluded,
> etc. --which can be very interesting to know about but of limited
> usefulness in predicting and explaining culture.

You're not asking the informant to explain social science but his own
culture (at which he IS THE EXPERT), so I don't understand the comment
about "limited usefulness."

A great example of emic analysis is article by G. Witherspoon on Navajo
weaving. I talks about how the patterns in Navajo weaving have
religious significance because the represent the primal woman and man.
That's emic description and analysis. He wasn't asking the Navajo why
they inhabit the southwest, why they herd sheep, or why the speak the
language they do. He was asking them "What does this mean?" They are
the best people to answer that question, don't cha think?