Modernizing Questionnaire Survey Research and Ethnography

Traditional research methods for studying culture in the humanities and cultural anthropology were qualitative, rather than quantitative, and early anthropologists tended to assume that each distinct culture was uniform within itself and thus ethnography did not require statistical sampling procedures. However, for 70 years, the Human Relations Area Files at Yale University have collected quantitative data “to promote understanding of cultural diversity and commonality in the past and present.”1 The journal World Cultures emphasizes a related methodological approach, the analysis of “aggregate cultural data in coded form on a large sample of societies.”2 For decades, cultural ...

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