Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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A Multistage Strategy for Integrating Ethnographic and Qualitative Methods
Mark Woodward

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 707
Date: 2019-07-26 08:00 AM – 09:30 AM
Last modified: 2019-07-01


Anthropology and Political Science typically employ different methods to address similar issues. Since the 1980s the gap between the two disciplines widened as the moved in nearly opposite methodological and epistemological directions. Many Anthropologists moved away from rigorous data collection and analysis and towards interpretive cultural analysis theoretically formulated by David Schneider and popularized by Clifford Geertz. Political Science moved towards ever more complex statistical methods to demonstrate that it is “genuinely” scientific. The result is that inter-disciplinary conversation, let alone collaborative research, has become increasingly difficult.

One of the reasons for this is the tendency to confuse method and theory. Popper and others have argued that theories are explanatory devices that explain, but do not emerge directly from, empirical generalizations. The classic, though probably mythic, example is Newton’s apple. Interdisciplinary research requires analysist to recognize the validity of empirical generalizations produced by observational procedures ranging from surveys to what Geertz called “deep hanging out.” Furthermore, observations resulting from one method can, and should, be used in formulation of research questions and hypotheses for others.  Finally, theories can be falsified by but not proved by empirical observation. In most cases, multidisciplinary falsification tests are appropriate.  As Kuhn notes, scholars tend to cling to paradigms and theories for reasons that have little to with intellectual concern. The same is true of the occupants of methodological silos. A commitment to interdisciplinary research requires us to abandon this intellectual arrogance.