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Methodological Shifts in the Field of Anthropology: The Inclusion of Hard Science in the Field of the Social (Research Proposal Sample)


This is an article about the shifts in methodological approach of the social sciences. i wrote this as a precursor for my thesis proposal

Methodological shifts in the field of Anthropology: the inclusion of hard science in the field of the social
Anthropology (American) was once dominated by the use of a four-point approach/method that includes; linguistics, archaeology, cultural, and physical anthropology. These approaches are mainly focused in the study of existing social systems, institutions, and/or trying to find general laws that govern how culture and societies form. But even the one that is considered to be the most scientific among them does not include much hard science (physical anthropology) in its methodological approach. Also, it focuses to study humans, antiquities, and the reason for their existence (Archaeology in studying remains of the past, while others focus on their continued existence in the modern day). Thus, a methodological and paradigmatic shift from the humanistic approach was inevitable especially in the face of an ongoing technological advancement. This led to the rise of a more scientific approach – Biological anthropology. This anthropological paradigm is an offspring of physical anthropology but it gives a more distinct taste to it by employing more technologically advanced tools, experimental techniques and the process of "repatriation”. This new field is as current as its own unit of analysis. Unlike its predecessors that focuses on antiquities and the relationship of the past to the present (in the case of existing social institutions). This new field focuses on the present and even tries to predict the future of these existing social systems. It also differs in the sense that, while others try to collect information (artifacts, data, interview) in its original field or place, this one tries to redistribute them. A process called repatriation.
In terms of paradigmatic and educational method the, old and the new differs in terms of using the evolutionary synthesis as compared to the use of comparative functional anatomy. The four field method studies classical works – Taylor, Malinowski, Morgan, Boas, etc. – and at the same time students in the field are expected to know the classic anthropological history. Biological anthropology, on the other hand, tries to distance itself from these previous theories by studying more recent works of theorists and pioneers in the field such as Alesˇ Hrdlicˇka, E. A. Hooton, Eugen Fischer, Arthur Keith, Leonce Manouvrier, or Rudolf Martin. It also requires a lot of technical training in the natural sciences, these include; skeletal training, skeletal biology, molecular genetics, and forensic science. In terms of the tools used in gathering, storing and analyzing data, while the four-point method has its own – calipers (more particularly in physical anthropology and archaeology), field notebooks, recorders, etc. – Biological anthropology uses more sophisticated tools such as reflectometers, spirometers, thermometers, etc.
Contrary to the belief that this field is relatively new, its roots can be traced back in times of ancient Greece (although it was not named as such before). Thinkers such as Anaximander, Albertus Magnus, Tocqueville, and even Mark Twain greatly contributed to its genesis.
Biological anthropology and its functions
As we have already discussed above biological anthropology is more inclined in the hard sciences rather than the social. But even if one of their biggest tools employ DNA studies, this has not replaced the primacy of human beings and cultures (in the present and future) as its unit of analysis. Throughout its history, its focus on problem-solving theories have led to great results which were not answered (or was vaguely answered) by the traditional four-point method. Disenfranchised groups such as the Ainu people of Japan, had their rights validated when studies in the field proved that they were part of the indigenous people of the country. It also provided quantitative analysis free from any history that is tainted by typological racism (one of the critiques of previous theories and approaches). Previous theories/approaches were used by individuals or groups to justify racism and slavery. Biological Anthropology, on the other hand, could help in challenging injustice ...
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