Fwd: Re: Elementary Question

Timothy Mason (mason@CIE.FR)
Mon, 12 Aug 1996 23:26:13 -0500

-- [ From: Timothy Mason * EMC.Ver #2.5.02 ] --

: Elizabeth Becker asks

>What would you say is the difference between social-cultural anthropology
and sociology? I surfed >the 'net, and the only quasi-definitions I found
were at the UW-Superior web site, and those were >incredibly vague.

>Could it possibly be that the major differences are ones of methodology?
For instance, grossly <stated, anthropologists tend to use ethnographic
methods, whereas sociologists tend to use >surveys?

If I may (over)simplify Gerard Leclerc's argument in 'Observing mankind'
(L'observation de l'homme) it could be that the fundamental difference
between anthropology and sociology, rather than being one of methodology is
one of founding object. Sociology grows from the identification/construction
of the urban proletariat as a source of danger and a problem to be solved,
whereas anthropology grows from the identification/construction of the
colonial savage as source of danger and a problem to be solved. Differences
in methodology arise from the mode of encounter between the knowing and
(would-be) controlling subject on the one hand, and the object on the other.

Modern sociologists use methods similar to those developed by
anthropologists, and some anthropologists use surveys.

I don't really have the time to do Leclerc's argument justice. There is far
more in the book than I have suggested here - read it if you have the time.
He goes on to suggest how both disciplines emancipated themselves from their
more immediate concerns to become university subjects. What gains, what

Best wishes
Timothy Mason