Anthropologists conduct firsthand observation and fieldwork while seeking to learn about the culture of a certain society. Such kinds of studies are referred to as ethnography. The fact that culture relate to the manner in which individuals interact means that it is difficult to make reliable observations while in a laboratory setting. The best way to learn about the culture of a society is by living with individuals who belong to that society. For instance, an anthropologist may opt to live with a typical Latin American family and study through observation, rather than relying on the responses given by, say, a family member who studies at a certain university or college (Stade, 2001).
It is appropriate for cultural anthropologists to conduct systematic comparisons of cultures, especially those which appear to be similar. Such a comparison is referred to as ethnology. For instance, an anthropologist may undertake an ethnological study for the purpose of comparing the cultures of societies which rely on, say, hunting and gathering as opposed to agriculture. The most reliable sets of data would be those which are acquired from ethnographies which already explicate the way of life of the people in question. In essence, ethnology refers to the synthesis of the studies which have been completed by several ethnographers (De Mai & Muzzio, 1996).
A Research Methodology
The essence of a research methodology is in the attempt to answer the basic question which is: how can reliable information be acquired with regard a certain practice or behavior of a culture, community, or culture? This does involve two questions which are closely related (Stade, 2001):
- How can a researcher investigate a phenomenon in an endeavor to come up with the useful and true information? and
- How can other stakeholders understand what was meant by the researcher as he/she assert ideas, theories, and propositions? Should the researcher be believed?
The first issue relates to the conditions and techniques which are necessary for the purpose of completing the study or exploration. The several and varied phenomena which may be studied necessitate special techniques and tools which are appropriate for the purpose of gathering the relevant information about them. The study of behavior and culture requires the utilization of the same strategy. The primary data that is utilized in social science research studies are acquired from three main sources: direct observation of the human behavior; listening to and taking notes of the contents of the human speech; and examining the resultants of human behavior, especially those which have been documented and kept in libraries and archives. In essence, the fieldwork methods of studying culture include observation of the population, questionnaires and interviews, participants’ observation, life histories, as well as participatory approach (Geertz, 1973; De Mai & Muzzio, 1996).
Each of the methods listed above has its strengths and weaknesses. The observation of the population has the advantage of ensuring that none of the individual residents is discriminated against. However, it may require a significant amount of time and resources, especially in cases where the population is large. Questionnaires and interviews have the advantage of being timely, and are also important since the researcher is able to interact with the sampled participants. However, it may be challenging to utilize them in cases where the respondents are illiterate, do not understand the language used in the study, or if they choose to withhold some information (Matsumoto, 2006).
The observation of the participants saves time since the number of participants is usually manageable. However, this may raise validity issues in case the selection of the participating individuals is biased. Dwelling on life histories facilitates the acquisition of accurate and timed accounts of a certain culture. It may, nonetheless, be disadvantageous in case the histories happen to have been compiled wrongly. Participatory approach is the best methodology since the researcher is able to observe and interact with the members of the society in question as they live their lives normally. The weakness of this methodology is that it may take a long time to complete, especially because it may take some time before the individuals being studies consider having the researcher in their midst being normal (Matsumoto, 2006).
Studying Commentaries within Online Social Media
The study of commentaries within online social media can be best accomplished through participation. The researcher may participate just like anybody else so as to make other participants as comfortable as possible. Indeed, participation enables the researcher to interact with other players, and he/she may even ask questions or request clarification where possible. In addition to participation, the researcher may just observe as others interact. The use of the participatory approach enhances the reliability of the data as well as the results/findings of the study. This is due to the fact that the researcher is able to live the life that the subjects being observed live. With regard to commentaries on such social media avenues as Facebook and Twitter, the researcher is able to interact and reason with other players, and this means that the reliability of the data and the findings is enhanced (Horowitz, 2009).
With regard to the replacement of David Letterman by Stephen Colbert, most observers may tend to support the move. Firstly, David Letterman has been a host for a significant amount of time and after such a time has elapsed, the audience tends to get used to the individual in question. The audience has a progressive mind and, therefore, they may be impressed by the replacement of David Letterman. Nevertheless, that is speculative; and it is important to avoid speculations while undertaking any kind of study. Speculations compromise the reliability of the results.
De Mai, B. & Muzzio (1996). “Dial-In Democracy: Talk Radio and the 1994 Election”.
Geertz, C. (1973). “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture” from the Interpretation of Cultures
Horowitz, D. M. (2009). A review of consensus analysis methods in consumer culture, organizational culture and national culture research. Consumption Markets & Culture, 12(1), 47-64.
Matsumoto, D. (2006). Culture and Cultural Worldviews: Do Verbal Descriptions about Culture Reflect Anything Other Than Verbal Descriptions of Culture?. Culture & Psychology, 12(1), 33-62.
Stade, R. (2001). The Fate of “Culture”: Geertz and Beyond; Culture: The Anthropologist’s Account:The Fate of “Culture”: Geertz and Beyond.;Culture: The Anthropologist’s Account.. American Ethnologist, 28(2), 449-450.