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New Ethnography

New Ethnography is a recent development in the field of Anthropology. It is also known as Cognitive Anthropology or Ethnoscience.It accords special importance to empirical data as well as theoretical abstraction.

The goal of new ethnography is to arrive at a description and analysis of a culture as a member of that culture would see it, free from the biases of the outsider. It tries to achieve the precise and highly operationalised paradigmatic renderings of cultural phenomena which have come to be associated with the linguist's description of phonology and grammar. The cultural behaviour is studied and categorized in terms of the inside view of human events. The ethno scientist seeks to understand a people's world from their point of view. Many ethno scientists think that if we can discover the rules that generate correct cultural behaviour we can explain much of what people do and why they do it. Ethno science thus accounts for cultural items and cultural relationships in terms of the information used by members of a culture in their own linguistic categories.

Ethno science is identified in three directions.

  • Towards better field techniques where there is adequate knowledge of native terms and it has a close link to the anthropologists who are concerned with the principles of naming.
  • Toward extension of ethno science to areas beyond the vocabulary.
  • Towards a restriction to the vocabulary but containing a strong interest in a theoretical integration with anthropological theory in general.

There are two basic structural models of ethno science:
The componential models which contain an emphasis on components and at least an implicit hope that universal component independent of particular cultures will be forthcoming. This model generates an optimal system of taxonomics in which every level is further structured by a symmetrical paradigm.

The lexical /semantic field model that emphasizes lexical /semantic relations. A relatively small set of universal lexical/semantic relations forms a complex algebraic structure. The formal characteristics of some of the relations like taxonomy are relatively known. Most are virtually unknown or known only informally. The relation of likeness is known only informally although it may be the key for opening the metaphoric level of language to ethno science. This model is also known as the Relational Model.

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